Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Freedom of secrecy of correspondence in Cambodia started to be tiny

Through Cambodia Daily Newspaper issued on March 26th, 2012 “Internet Cafes, Phone Kiosks Told to Install Security Cameras”, page 17 stated about directive of Ministry of Interior (MoI) and Ministry of Telecommunication (MoT) issued its guideline for internet café and public phone operators shall install the security camera, and also record the identity and also shoot picture who phoned at their shop. The decree was raised aim to secure the PUBLIC SECURITY; afraid the TORRORISTS conduct activity and also reduce the crimes in Cambodia.

Law Journal of Cambodia (LJC) could not yet find the original source from the competent authority. However our team just would like to provide information and some impacts regarding issue that it is a type of restrictive the freedom of expression and also abusive the private communication of each individual person.

Is it reasonable or any legal bases for government to issue this direction? How about the impact of this decree to the human right context?

Social Context

ASEAN:The Cambodia is a host country for ASEAN summit in early April this year so the government may concern about security for world leaders who attend this significant event. Is it a good methodology to prevent the terrorist acts or crime happening in Cambodia? How effective of this method? How about the price of our poor people to comply with this government responsible?

The instalment of camera: Why the government doesn’t reserve budget for installing the public camera rather than put the burden for the shop owner to install the camera in their shop?

Public Security:The government also has reason that this decree is for reducing the crimes happening in Cambodia, what is the cause of booming of crime in Phnom Penh and elsewhere? Is it the incompetent authority to crackdown the crimes or offenses or what?

Through MoT's and MoI's directive, the opposition people, human activists might think that the government wants to identify person who oppose the government’s idea because it’s closely commune election and National Election in July this year and next year. It’s also to eliminate the contradict opinion if s/he has seriously criticize against the government policy. However, LTC thought that the government will not use this measure to put pressure against the people who have contradict idea.

Legal Context
The directive of MoT and MoI are violating the Cambodian constitution of article 40 (3) “The rights to privacy of residence, and to the secrecy of correspondence by mail, telegram, fax, telex and telephone shall be guaranteed”

The word “Guarantee” means all the correspondence in private between individual people cannot be recorded or taken pictures. If someone who records the communication individually will be subjected punishable.

The Cambodian Criminal Code punished person listen or record the privately announced or confidential speeches without the consent of the concerned person, s/he shall be imprisoned for one month to one year and a fine between 100,000 (one hundred thousand) Riels to 2,000,000 (two million) Riels”, Article 301 said.

The acts of taking picture of a person in a private place without the consent of the latter, is punishable, except for the cases where it is authorized by law, by an imprisonment of between 1 (one) month and 1 (one) year and a fine of between 100,000 (one hundred thousand) and 2,000,000 (two million) Riels.”, article 302 said.

Principles for the protection of persons with mental illness and the improvement of mental health care
Adopted by General Assembly resolution 46/119 of 17 December 1991

Principle 13
Rights and conditions in mental health facilities
1. …….
(c) Freedom of communication, which includes freedom to communicate with other persons in the facility; freedom to send and receive uncensored private communications; freedom to receive, in private, visits from a counsel or personal representative and, at all reasonable times, from other visitors; and freedom of access to postal and telephone services and to newspapers, radio and television

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Adopted by General Assembly resolution 61/106 of 13 December 2006
Article 22 
Respect for privacy
1. No person with disabilities, regardless of place of residence or living arrangements, shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence or other types of communication or to unlawful attacks on his or herhonour and reputation. Persons with disabilities have the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
2. States Parties shall protect the privacy of personal, health and rehabilitation information of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.


In order to crackdown or eliminate crimes in the society, the government has many ways to do it such as to strengthen capacity of its authority to fight against crime offenders, or install camera for watchdog the crimes at the public and or issue some regulations to protect people rights.

The idea of installing security camera for monitoring crime is good but it should not be burden for people. It’s under the government policy therefore the government shall have obligations to guarantee national security and also public interest.

The government should have budget to install the public camera to watchdog the crime.

However, LJC would like to express our opinion that all government’s decision should be reflect the constitution spirit because it’s a supreme law for nation that all people shall comply with. By the ways, Cambodia also the member of many international covenants such as international covenant on civil and political rights, declaration of human rights…

Please find the real article of Cambodia Daily below:

 Law Journal of Cambodia(LJC) is a non-political and independent team who volunteer working for disseminating laws and informaton regarding development and human rights situation in Cambodia. All comment or idea of LJC cannot be claimed in front of court and other purpose. LJC just provide ways for people to understand the context of law and other issues. LJC wants people to understand the law and live in peaceful means.
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