The National Assembly on Friday voted to adopt a law promoting the rights of the disabled more than a decade after NGOs first began pushing for the legislation.
Amendments proposed by opposition lawmakers were rejected during the session, leading 19 Sam Rainsy Party and three Human Rights Party lawmakers to walk out before casting their votes. The bill was approved by a unanimous vote of 75 lawmakers from the Cambodian People's Party, the Norodom Ranariddh Party and Funcinpec.
An SRP statement issued Friday said the rejected amendments included "measures to protect women and children with disabilities from violence and exploitation", issues the party claims the approved law fails to address sufficiently.
Sem Sokha, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, said the law includes a range of provisions designed to prevent discrimination against disabled people and to ensure their access to health care, education and other services.
He said NGOs first began advocating for such a law in 1996 and that his ministry first established a working group to draft the law in 2001. But before this, officials needed to assess the conditions facing Cambodia's disabled population, he said, adding that they also wanted to solicit feedback from foreign experts and NGO partners.
He dismissed opposition claims that the law was weak, saying, "We are proud that the National Assembly passed the law. This law is useful for disabled people."