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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Leaky maritime law reform on course

Leaky maritime law reform on course

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leaky.jpg

Efforts to reform Cambodia's internationally scorned shipping registry are on the

right track but amendments to draft legislation governing the country's maritime

practices are now a matter of urgency, European consultants said at a workshop in

Phnom Penh.

Consultants from the Belgium government's Maritime Administration of Flanders conduct a workshop in Phnom Penh on new legislation aimed at raising Cambodia's shipping laws to international standards. Jacky Dezeure, left, says Cambodia is on the right track but amendments to the draft laws are a matter of urgency.

"It becomes clear that the Cambodian reputation as a maritime nation is at stake

and already seriously damaged. However, Cambodia is on the right track and taking

the right steps forward," said Jacky Dezeure, an engineering consultant from

the Maritime Administration of Flanders (MAF) in Belgium.

The one day workshop on July 5 was organized by the Cambodia Ministry of Public Works

and the MAF to screen two legislative proposals designed to bring the shipping registry

- Cambodian Shipping Corporation - up to international standards.

Dezeure said fine-tuning the legislation was a matter of urgency while the two drafts

- the Cambodian Merchant Maritime Act and the Cambodian Ship Registry - should be

rolled into one overall maritime legislative framework to prevent ambiguities.

He also said Cambodia must ratify international conventions on sea laws and harmonization

of international regulations, then focus on safety and enforcement.

The quality of a country's shipping reflected the quality of a country's trade mark,

Dezeure said.

Cambodian Shipping Corp, renowned as a flag of convenience, has persistently fallen

foul of international authorities amid accusations it has become a cheap flag under

which unscrupulous ship owners can operate.

That reputation prompted a government review and sparked the reform process, but

at sea Cambodian-flagged vessels have remained a cause for great concern.

In December last year, Europe for the first time issued a list of the world's worst

10 ships that will never again be permitted to dock in the continent's ports. Eric

Van Hooydonk, of the MAF, said 40 percent of those ships flew the Cambodian flag.

The list was issued amid heightening fears of a sea-borne terrorist attack and followed

a decree from the United Nations that countries whose registries fail to meet international

safety, policing and reporting standards will be suspended from operations.

The UN's criteria for a responsible registry included: a genuine link between the

state and the ship; and an obligation by the state to control the ship's safety at

sea, and to investigate and report when a ship has been involved in a collision or

accident.

However, Hooydonk said any decision to close Cambodia's registry - if the reforms

fail - is a matter for the politicians.

The Secretary of State for Public Works and Transport, Tram Iv Tek, said the government

understood that it lacked legal experts specializing in maritime law and that "Cambodia

seems to have no maritime legislation/laws" which are the fundamental basis

for managing maritime transport.

However, once the legislation was approved and adopted Cambodia would establish the

required maritime facilities and services, he said.

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