Press ReleaseCAMBOW disappointed in decision not to allow march
Cambodian Committee for Women (CAMBOW)
May 23, 2003 - The Cambodian Committee of Women (CAMBOW), a coalition of 32 Cambodian NGOs, is very disappointed that the Royal Cambodian government has refused to allow victims of domestic violence and NGO workers to gather peacefully on May 26 to meet their elected members to discuss the draft Domestic Violence law on the members’ first session at the National Assembly.
One in every six women is a victim of domestic violence by their husbands, according to a survey by the Project Against Domestic Violence and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. A proposed new law against domestic violence is scheduled to be debated once more at the National Assembly. CAMBOW strongly supports the new law, but has recommended some changes to it to ensure better protection of victims and their children. CAMBOW urges members of the National Assembly to continue the debate on this important law as a matter of priority.
On May 13, the office of the Governor of Phnom Penh sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior refusing to authorize CAMBOW’s request to gather peacefully at the National Assembly because “it will affect security and public order”. On May 21, the Ministry of Interior sent a letter to the Governor of Phnom Penh agreeing with the comments from the office of the Governor of Phnom Penh. On May 23, CAMBOW received a letter from the office of the Governor of Phnom Penh refusing CAMBOW’s request because “it [ demonstration] will affect security and public order”.
“It is unacceptable to suggest that a group of unarmed women, many of whom have suffered from violence in their homes, present a threat to national security or public order,” said Kek Galabru, President of LICADHO.
“These women simply wanted to meet their elected members of parliament in a peaceful and reasonable manner to make them aware of the depth of the problems of domestic violence in society. The Cambodian government has repeatedly committed itself to protecting the most vulnerable group of society- the women and children” she added.
CAMBOW wishes to remind the Cambodian government that Article 41 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia guarantees freedom of: expression, press, publication and assembly to all Cambodians. Furthermore, the freedom of expression, the freedom of assembly and the freedom of association with others is also outlined in the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights ratified by Cambodia on May 26, 1992. Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also refers to the freedom of assembly and association. Both documents, the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have been included in article 31 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
“Members of parliament and Government officials need to listen to the concerns of the people to ensure the new Domestic Violence law provides greater protection of victims,” said Mrs. Minh Navy, Advocacy Manager of GAD.
“Cambodia needs stronger and better laws and the enforcement of laws to fight all forms of violence against women and children.”
CAMBOW has decided not to proceed with the peaceful gathering at the National Assembly because of the risk of arrest and physical harm to the women who planned to participate.
However CAMBOW appeals to all Cambodians and the international community to remind the Cambodian Government of it’s obligations towards its people.
Furthermore, CAMBOW wishes to invite all members of the local and foreign press to attend a press conference to discuss the draft Domestic Violence law on Monday May 26 at 10:00 AM at the Project Against Domestic Violence (PADV) office located at #15, street 105
For more information, please contact:
• Dr. Kek Galabru, President of LICADHO at 012 802 506
• Mrs. Hor Phally, Director of PADV at 023 721 654
• Mrs. Minh Navy, Advocacy Manager of GAD at 011 958 979