T HE government is planning a Security Act to introduce new measures against
breaches of national security, including political crimes.
The law, which
one foreign observer warned could be designed to clamp down on political
dissent, is expected to be broad.
Minister of Information Ieng Mouly
suggested it could include a new crime of "genocide" for Khmer Rouge to be
charged with, a new military justice code for government soldiers, and clear
definitions of "national security" and "political stability" for the prosecution
But the substance of the law, unlikely to be drafted for
some time, has yet to be officially decided.
Mouly said the law was
necessary to prevent the incitement of violence against the government or
constitution, or in support of the Khmer Rouge.
"First, we still have to
fight the Khmer Rouge and we must not underestimate their strength, despite that
they are weak militarily.
"They still have a lot of money and we have a
lot of poor people. Those poor people can easily be tempted to take money and do
something against national security."
Though the government already had
legislation outlawing the KR, he said a Security Act could introduce new charges
such as genocide for captured guerrillas.
There could also be new
provisions to punish soldiers who betrayed military secrets to the Khmer Rouge
or foreign governments.
Mouly expected the Security Act would also
include definitions of "national security" and "political stability".
new press law allows journalists to be punished for publishing articles which
"affect" national security or political stability, but leaves both terms
Mouly confirmed that journalists might be prosecuted under
both the press law and the Security Act, but was adamant that freedom of
expression would remain protected.
"If you read the newspapers, every day
there is criticism against the government. I don't see in the future, even with
the Security Act, that people will be put in jail just for criticism of the
Mouly proposed that national security crimes be defined as
acts which betray military secrets or incite war.
political stability, meanwhile, could include inciting people to break the law
to oppose the government or the constitutional monarchy.
constitution, he said people should be free to "form an opinion" that the
constitution should be changed, but not to promote violence to change
Mouly defended the Security Act as part of the government's updating
of its criminal, civil and military codes to replace former State of Cambodia
law. There was nothing unusual about it, he said.
"I think in every
country you have a security act, especially in this region."
he was only expressing his own thoughts on what could be in the law, not
The law was to be drafted by an inter-ministerial
committee, primarily from the Interior and Defense ministries. The main idea for
the law came from the Interior Ministry, he said.
But Co-Minister of
Interior You Hockry said he had not thought about what should be in the law.
"We haven't brainstormed on this. It's too early. I think this is a plan
but nothing much has been done on it as yet."
Minister of Defense Tea
Banh said: "I don't know who is responsible for drafting that law and I don't
know what will be in it."
A foreign human rights lawyer, who would not be
named, said there was no need for a Security Act.
The government already
had a law against the KR, the press law and an adequate criminal code, he said.
The "only ground left" uncovered by the government was "political
"The only thing left for them to do is to try to do something to
deal with political dissent, and that's what this law would be designed
Repressive provisions such as preventative detention, censorship
and restrictions on political parties could be in the law, if Cambodia followed
the example of some neighbors. Malaysia's security law, for instance, allowed
preventative detention and the general suspension of the rights of people
accused of plotting national security crimes.