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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NA gears up for new session

NA gears up for new session

T WO non-controversial laws will be the first to be considered by the National Assembly when it meets for its next session in the second week of October. The start of the session has been delayed by about ten days because repairs are still being carried out on the roof of the National Assembly building

The first agenda for the session, due to begin on Oct 11, was decided at a meeting of the NA's Permanent Committee on Oct 3. The Committee consists of the chairpersons of the nine parliamentary commissions and is headed by NA Chairman Chea Sim. It decides which laws are ready to be debated in the House.

The first law to be considered will be the Statute for Civil Servants. This will determine the procedures for applicants wishing to enroll in the civil services and will also deal with procedures for the services' functioning.

The second law on the agenda will deal with pensions and retirement for military personnel.

However, despite the low-key start, several important draft laws could come up for discussion later in the session, which will run to the end of December.

Interior Minister You Hockry stated in parliament during the debate on the Immigration Law that the draft Nationality Law was almost ready and would be passed before the end of the year.

MP Ahmad Yahya, a member of the NA's Permanent Standing Committee, also said it would probably be considered in December.

The Permanent Committee has received a draft Labour Law, according to Yahya.

The draft will be voted on in the Assembly after it has been reviewed by the relevant Commissions of the National Assembly. "There is a good chance it will be on the next agenda," Yahya said.

Another important law which is expected to be passed this session is the draft Commercial Code, which will be essential for investors. It will also be introduced after review and amendment by parliamentary commissions.

The Permanent Committee has also received a new draft of the Supreme Council of Magistracy Law, according to Yahya.

An earlier draft was introduced in parliament in April this year but was withdrawn before it went to a vote. Contoversy flared because several members of parliament opposed Minister of Justice Chem Sngoun also becoming vice chairman of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, which the draft proposed.

The council will have the power to decide appointments of judges, as well as their conditions of work, complaints and dismissals.

The MPs felt that if the minister wore two hats he would exercise too much power over judges and might violate their independence.

Some 32 MPs tabled an alternative draft law in April without the minister on the council. Both drafts were then withdrawn so that a compromise could be worked out.

But the new government draft still includes the controversial article concerning the Minister of Justice, according to Kem Sokha, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission.

"There were no discussions, no compromise. The same law has been sent back by the government; the only change is that the minister is an ordinary member of the council instead of the vice-chairman," he said.

Sokha added that the dissident MPs had not yet decided on a new course of action.

Two draft laws to combat corruption have also been submitted to the Committee and could come up for discussion after they have been reviewed by the Commissions, according to Yahya.

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