Cambodia Regression?

October 23, 2009

After signs of hope in moving towards liberty, especially in promoting religious diversity, the Cambodian government appears to be taking measures to limit free speech. As reported by the Financial Times, the parliament has passed a law restricting public demonstrations:

The Cambodian parliament, which is dominated by the Cambodian People’s party of Hun Sen, the prime minister, passed the law limiting public demonstrations to a maximum of 200 people with the aim of ensuring “public order and national security”.

Public demonstrations are a popular form of protest in Cambodia. The opposition, comprehensively outnumbered in parliament, uses them to make political points but they are also a last resort for groups of impoverished farmers and slum-dwellers who say they are the victims in land -disputes with developers and powerful allies of the government. Mu Sochua, an opposition mem-ber of parliament, said: “It is limiting freedom of assembly and that will severely limit freedom of expression.”

Other recent signs of rights setbacks in Cambodia include property evictions and press restrictions via libel laws. As in most Southeast Asian countries, the government is rife with corruption. Pray that God will move the hearts of leadership towards freedom.

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