Open Letter Discussion on Legal Rights related to Cooperation between Cambodian Civil Society Organizations for the purpose of Election Observation

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Open Letter Discussion on Legal Rights related to Cooperation between Cambodian Civil Society Organizations for the purpose of Election Observation

To Samdech KRALAHOM SAR KHENG Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Ministry of Interior

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL) and the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), with support from other civil society organizations (CSOs), issue this open letter to seek an opportunity to meet with Samdech KRALAHOM or representatives of the Ministry of Interior and to share our perspective on legal rights and need for the collaboration of non-governmental organizations for supporting non-partisan observation of election activities. Previously, COMFREL and NICFEC asked for audience from Samdech KRALAHOM through a joint letter issued on 3rd July 2017 clarifying the purpose and activities of the project of 2017 election observation called The Situation Room. On July 4, 2017, a day after submitting the joint letter, COMFREL and NICFEC received a letter from Samdech KRALAHOM’s issued by the Ministry of Interior over the Situation Room for 2017 commune council election observation. However, in accordance with the  content of the letter, we have  learned that associations and civil society organizations have a legal right to participate actively in political life and social activity, a right to freedom of expression, of assembly, and of association, as well as a right to take part in mass organizations for mutual benefit as stipulated in Article 35, Article 41 and Article 42, of the Constitution, and in Article 19, Article 21 Article 22 and Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Cambodia is a State Party. In particular, Article 21 of the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations establishes that associations or non-governmental organizations that have registered or signed the memorandum have the "right to sign cooperation contracts with partners in the implementation of action plans" in accordance with the law of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Elections Laws state that associations and non-governmental organizations have the right to participate as observers in the electoral process.

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