Friday, March 12, 2010

Cambodia Approved a Long-Waited Anti-Corruption Law

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The National Assembly of Cambodia has unanimously approved a Draft of Anti-Corruption Law within 82 votes. The session of a long-waited Anti-Corruption Law debate was under the presidency of Samdech Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly of Cambodia on March 11th.

Samdech Heng Samrin announced that the National Assembly and the Royal Government of Cambodia has agreed to maintain the meanings of original texts of the Draft on Anti-Corruption Law as they are meaningful for the legislature implementation in Cambodia.

He added that the Draft of Anti-Corruption Law will become a legal tool for the Royal Government of Cambodia for its implementation in fighting against the corruption in Cambodia.

“The National Assembly has unanimously passed the draft of Anti-Corruption Law after being conducted for a three-day session. The Law will be sending for the Senate to discuss the final approval and I hope that after it is passed and comes into effective, it will become a legal tool to implement in Cambodia,” he said.

Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen appreciated the National Assembly’s adaptation of the Anti-Corruption Law. He said those who had criticised the timing of debate on the long-awaited Anti-Corruption Law were hypocrites and urged the National Assembly and Senate to pass it as soon as possible to combat corruption in Cambodia.

The Royal Government of Cambodia did not consider some recommendations from civil society and opposition parties because this would have complicated the articles that had already been drafted.

“Many People, particularly the opposition party and civil society’s members recommended to do this or to do that, so the solution is to follow the decision made by the majority voice from the parliament and Senate,” he said. “Therefore, I would like to appeal that those who are concerned or not satisfied with the current draft of the Anti-corruption law should put their efforts into winning the 2013 election. If they win the 2013 Election, they can amend it but I am sure they will not win the election,” he stated during opening remarks at the National Conference on the Dissemination of the Penal Code on March 10th.

The Prime Minister added, when the Anti-Corruption Law comes into affect, those who have two nationalities, will be resigned from their positions because they are required to publicly declare about their own assets both in Cambodia and the other foreign country.

Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Sok An, Minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, said that the Anti-Corruption Law is legal to every person relating with corruption activities in Cambodia.

“Every person is legally with Anti-Corruption Law and the law is required all public individuals including government officials, opposition leader, and civil societies’ leaders to publicly announce about their own properties both in Cambodia and abroad especially those who have more nationalities,” he said.

H.E. Sok An stated that under the Anti-Corruption Law, all government leaders, parliamentarians, senators, and those where appointed by sub-decrees (Starting up from Department Directors or chiefs) and also including NGOs presidents and opposition party leaders are required to declare about their properties.

According to Anti-Corruption Law, the National Anticorruption Commission consisting of 11 members have chosen by the King, Senate, National Assembly and eight other government institutions. The commission will report directly to Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen who will be responsible for the government’s overall anti-corruption strategy.

H.E. Sok An said that he has also called for the establishment of a separate Anti-corruption Unit, operating under the Council of Ministers, which will be responsible for the day-to-day investigation of corruption and maintain a secret register of assets belonging to government officials, political party leaders and some members of civil society.

He added that the law will not be carried out until December 2011 because it will take time for the disseminations and educating the people about it before is completely exercised in Cambodia.

The Anti-Corruption Law has a total of 9 chapters and 57 articles. According to the Law, those who are involved in committing the corruption, will suffer from 7 days up to 15 years imprisonments and will also be fined from 1 million up to five millions riel.

To support the debate of Anti-corruption law, the UN country team in Cambodia issued a statement to welcome the consideration by the National Assembly of the long-awaited Anti-Corruption law.

“The UNCT has been actively supporting the enactment of this significant piece of legislation since 2004. The Anti-Corruption Law should undergo a transparent and participatory consultation process to ensure that it is consistent with international standards as required by the Constitution and contain sufficient safeguards to protect the rights and duties of Cambodian people who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this law,” said UN statement.

The statement stated that given the high interest manifested for this law by many stakeholders, the UNCT hopes that it is not too late, and encourages the National Assembly to allow sufficient time for Parliamentarians, civil society, donors and the UN to study the law so that if and where deemed necessary, amendments may be proposed for consideration. The UNCT also hopes and encourages the National Assembly and the Senate to debate the law, with the possibility to amend the draft if and where considered relevant. It is in the interest of the legislative, and its positive contribution to the reconstruction effort, that this and future legislations are effectively debated both inside and outside parliament prior to adoption. ////

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