Freedom of expression

A demonstrator exercising his right to freedom of expression
A key principle of fundamental freedoms, right to freedom of expression plays an important role in fostering a democratic society. Everyone shall have the right to freely express their concern and opinions without interference from the government. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia (article 41) explicitly guarantees this right for all Khmer citizens, stating that: “Khmer citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly. No one shall exercise this right to infringe upon the rights of others, to effect the good traditions of the society, to violate public law and order and national security.”

The right to freedom of expression is also guaranteed under international human rights treaties, which Cambodia accepted and incorporated into its national legislation, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Article 19 of the UDHR and Article 19 of the ICCPR guarantee the right to freedom of expression and opinion for everyone, stating that “this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.” 

Restrictions, however, are permitted to protect various interests, including individuals’ reputation. Article 19 (2) of the ICCPR makes the right to freedom of expression subject to restrictions: those which are provided for by law and are necessary for the respect of the rights or reputation of others, or for the protection of national security or public order, public health or morals. The rights set forth in the ICCPR are applicable not only to citizens but to all individuals within a State's jurisdiction.

The CRC also recognizes children’s rights to freedom of expression (Article 13), subject to the same limitations provided for in the ICCPR. It also recognizes, however, the principle that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children (Article 3) and that the state has a duty to protect a child from physical or mental violence, injury, abuse and exploitation (Article 19).

Listen to OHCHR-Cambodia's radio shows on freedom of expression:

- Programme on Freedom of Expression