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Pen Bona: Freedom of Expression and Crime Are Not the Same

Phnom Penh, July 3, 2024 - Government Spokesman Pen Bona, via social media on July 2, clarified the distinction between freedom of expression and violations of the law, which he stated have caused confusion in society. He emphasized the need for clear understanding and differentiation between expressing opinions and committing crimes.

To provide clarity, he cited provisions from the Cambodian Constitution, international conventions, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all recognized and implemented globally:

Article 41 of the Cambodian Constitution: Cambodian citizens have the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. However, these rights cannot be used to harm the honor of others, the good traditions of society, public order, and national security. The press regime is determined by law.

Article 19 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: The exercise of the rights set forth in paragraph 2 of this Article entails special duties and responsibilities. Therefore, the exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, as provided by law and necessary to respect the rights and reputations of others and to protect national security, public order, health, or public morals.

Article 22 (2) of the International Covenant: The exercise of this right may be restricted only by law and necessary in a democratic society for the interests of national security, public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 29 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: In exercising their rights and freedoms, all persons shall be subject to the limitations determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others, and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order, and the general welfare in a democratic society.

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