Access to information is part of a fundamental human rights

Present certificate to TraineesThe seminar "Publication of Forum Results on Women in Access to Information", held on December 13th, 2012, at Sunway Hotel, was a wrapping event of the project called "Promote Access to Information For A Better Participation of Women". 55 participants attended (24 females, 31 males). They were representatives from Sangkats, Ministries and NGOs. The specific objectives of the seminar were to share the experiences and dissemination of the two forum results about " Access to Information with Gender Perspective" and "Female Commune/Sangkat Councilors and Access to Information" organized in August and October 2012.
Ms. Chim Manavy, Executive Director of Open Institute, opened the seminar by emphasizing that access to information is part of freedom of expression. It is recognized as a fundamental of human right by Resolution 59(I) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946. Access to Information as well as Freedom of Expression have been stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is supported by Cambodia, Article 19 reads that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek; receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of the frontiers." Moreover, she stated that the right of access to information gives citizens legal entitlement to access government-managed information related to public services or the private sector. Access to Information is very important for democratic governance, participation of citizen, economic development, human rights protection, and promotion of freedom of information and transparency and so on. Access to Information will enable citizens to express and voice their opinions as well as fully participate in decision-making which will impact their daily lives. She also stressed that, because of the importance of ICTs in the current era, women use them to find support and promote information in their community. For instance, ICTs are used in Gender Based Violence Prevention Campaigns and in ensuring access to relevant information. In his keynote speech, Dr. Raymond Leos, member of the board of directors at Open Institute and Dean of Faculty of Communications and Media Arts, Pannasastra University of Cambodia, noted that the right to access to information is part of the fundamental freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR). In many developing countries around the world, laws protecting access to information have been enacted. This is not so for Cambodia, however, the Royal Government realizes the need for such legislation.
Dr. Leos ended his speech by reiterating the importance of the access to information and how cooperation between government and civil society is extremely important in implementing laws regarding access to information. He said that rules, regulations, and procedures should be consistent and that the long-term benefits in enacting an effective access to information law outweigh any difficulties that may be involved. Mr. Pheap Sophea, Consultant of the Demand for Good Governance (DFGG) project, Ministry of Interior, delivered a presentation on "Strengthening partnering mechanisms to promote access to information". He introduced that DFGG project runs from 2009 to 2013 with the purpose to promote the demand by the people for good governance in local communities. The project works on three levels: partnerships with governmental institutions and civil society organizations in order to promote policies, to build capacity for civil society organizations so they can more effectively provide services for the people, and through the sharing of experiences and lessons learned in regard to good governance. An important element of good governance is transparency, or openness to the discussion on the implementation of political endeavors. The dissemination of information by councilors at meetings should be transparent. This information includes development plans, service provisions, and budgets. Within the Communes/Sangkats, there must be different means to provide information to the public. These means include village meetings, forums, radio, and other news.
Ms. Kaing Sanary, Project Manager of "Promote Access to Information for A Better Participation" of Women Project at the Open Institute (OI), introduced that the project was supported by the Open Society Institute and ran for one year. She then gave a summary of the first forum, called "Promotion of the Access to Information (Related to Election) for Women", held on August 21st in the collaboration between the Open Institute and the National League of Communes/Sangkats (NLC/S). There were 36 people (23 females, 13 males).  The purpose of the first discussion was to promote the right of women to access information and the understanding by women of the importance of this access. Questions were posed regarding the access to information on elections, benefits from the access to information on elections, strategies needed in order to promote access to information for women regarding future elections. Next, challenges were described: knowledge of women in general is limited if compared to men. Women do not understand the importance of elections. Besides, women do not have confidence or do not dare to ask for information and feel that they do not have the opportunity to receive information. The means for access to information is not available for women. Then, advantages of access to information regarding elections were emphasized: if women have access to information, more women would make correct decisions in selecting good leadership. This would strengthen the development of the country and empower the women confidence. She then presented the possible recommendations to ensure that women get more information such as promote the information via video display, speakers, group discussion for rural women according to their free time, mainstreaming the information through comic actors, TV hosts, singers, provide the trainings to the women working in the companies, factories, markets, equip ICT equipments in the public, and motivate women to attend the trainings, meetings, and conferences.
In addition, Ms. Kaing Sanary shared results of the second forum. The second forum, held in cooperation between NLC/S and OI on October 19th, gathered 28 participants (17 females, 11 males) from Sangkat, Government Ministries, and NGOs. It aimed to provide opportunities for female councilors to share experiences, stories and challenges related to access to information for their daily work and the strategies to promote broader access to information for female commune/sangkat councilors. Six questions regarding women's access to information, information sources, obstacles, strategies, and policies were addressed. The results were as follows: women have better communication with members of councils than men but they receive less information compared to men, particularly in remote areas. Information is received through TV, radio, newspaper, municipal meetings, city meetings, police meetings, commune meetings, and council meetings. Most information received by women includes health, migration, domestic violence, reproductive health, vaccinations, elections, and commune safety policies. Challenges were discussed and the conclusion was that the mindset must be changed so women will take on more responsibilities and not be limited by traditional roles. It was also concluded that the law/policy is necessary because it promotes transparency and good governance.
Ms. So Yan, a member of Sangkat Kantouk councilors and a representative of participants who attended two trainings on "Access to Information with Gender Perspective" and "Using ICTs to Access and Disseminate Information" shared her impression and reflection on the training courses she had attended with "Promote Access to Information" Project.  Thanks to the trainings, she said, all of the participants gained new knowledge and new experiences in regard to information (public and private), the disclosure of information, public information, regulatory frameworks, and the scope for developing the action plan. They understood what information and news were, where they could get this information, and how to write news stories and articles. They also learned how to use images, computer technology, and the internet without infringing on copyrights and sensitive material. All of this knowledge has been implemented in daily works of the trainees to meet the needs of members of Communes/Sangkats. ( For more information please read

  1. Agenda of Seminar
  2. Speech Madam Manavy
  3. Keynote Speech of Dr. Raymond
  4. Impression of Sangkat Councilor
  5. Presentation on Partnership of Access to Information
  6. Summary Result of Forum 1
  7. Summary Result of Forum 2


Guest Speakers in Seminar on "Publication of Forum Results on Women in Access to Information” Phnom Penh, December 13, 2012 Photo: Open Institute
Participants in Seminar on "Publication of Forum Results on Women in Access to Information” Phnom Penh, December 13, 2012 Photo: Open Institute

Ms. So Yan, Sangkat Kantouk's Councilor showed about the reflection impression on two training of trainees in the Seminar on "Publication of Forum Results on Women in Access to Information” Phnom Penh, December 13, 2012 Photo: Open Institute
Ms. Pheap Sophea, Representative of Demand For Good Governance Project of Ministry of Interior, presented about "Strengthening the Partnership to Promote Access to Information” Phnom Penh, December 13, 2012 Photo: Open Institute