Cambodia: ICJ submission to the Human Rights Committee

On 31 January 2022, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) made a submission to the Human Rights Committee on Cambodia’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The submission focuses on the country’s record with respect to the rights to freedom of opinion, expression and information in the digital sphere.

The ICJ’s submission expresses concern about the Cambodian authorities’ failure, in both law and in practice, to respect and ensure the right to freedom of online expression and information online, protected under article 19 of the ICCPR.

In particular, the submission underscores how:

  • Cambodia’s legal framework on freedom of online expression and information does not comply with its obligations under article 19; and
  • The Cambodian authorities have continued their systemic crackdown on online expression and information, relying particularly on the country’s non-compliant legal framework to target and sanction a range of social media users, including human rights defenders, journalists and women; and
  • Arbitrary restrictions on free expression and information online have intensified dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, purportedly to control the spread of “false information” under the overbroad banner of protecting public health.

The ICJ also notes that aspects of the country’s arbitrary restrictions engage other human rights protected under the ICCPR. In particular, they have given rise to violations of the rights to a fair trial (article 14), privacy (article 17), peaceful assembly (article 21) and non-discrimination (article 2 and article 26), protected under the ICCPR.

The submission is based on the ICJ’s previous reports detailing the undue restrictions on the right to online freedom of expression in Cambodia: (i) Dictating the Internet: Curtailing Free Expression and Information Online in Cambodia, published in December 2021; and (ii) Dictating the Internet: Curtailing Free Expression, Opinion and Information Online in Southeast Asia, published in December 2019.

The submission is available in PDF here.

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