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From proposal to royal seal: how the law is made

One half of Cambodia’s legislature, the National Assembly is comprised of MPs representing each of the country’s provinces. Meeting for at least three months, twice a year, its purpose is to make laws and to scrutinise the executive.

Individual lawmakers, groups of lawmakers and commissions designated to issues like human rights, finance and culture also have the right to propose, as well as review and amend bills.

Last year, for example, one of the commissions drafted the bill that made it illegal to deny the Khmer Rouge regime’s crimes, after a request from Prime Minister Hun Sen. In practice, it is the Council of Ministers that proposes most of the legislation.

Much of the power within parliament lies with the standing committee, which is comprised of the National Assembly president, two deputy presidents and 10 commission chairs.

The standing committee sets the agenda and passes bills on to be scrutinised by commissions. These have the power to call ministers to answer questions about new bills and proposed amendments.

Once legislation is approved by an absolute majority in each commission, it is put to the rest of the National Assembly in a plenary session. Another absolute majority vote is required for it to pass.

The legislation is then sent to the Senate, the other half of the legislature which serves as an advisory body, and, if relevant, to the Constitutional Council.

This check is made by a group of nine high-ranking individuals close to the government. Sometimes, they will send draft legislation back to the National Assembly. But controversial legislation on the judiciary passed recently was not.
After the bill is approved, it is rubber stamped by the King.

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