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Assembly vote on penal code expected to occur in October

Assembly vote on penal code expected to occur in October

Senior CPP official says Anticorruption Law will follow by March 2010.

SENIOR Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Wednesday that the National Assembly would likely vote on the new penal code next month and that it would be formally adopted later this year.

Speaking outside a workshop on the code, Cheam Yeap said passage of the long-awaited Anticorruption Law, which officials have said could not go forward until the penal code was adopted, would come early next year.

“I would predict that the Anticorruption Law would be approved during the first three months of 2010,” he said.

At the workshop, more than 200 lawmakers, government officials and civil society legal experts gathered at the National Assembly to discuss the penal code, which was approved by the Council of Ministers in June.

Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana, who attended the workshop, told reporters that approximately 20 items in the penal code pertained to the Anticorruption Law, though he said he could not remember details about specific penalties.

“I don’t remember the types of penalties, but I can say they will cover all civil servants and court officers who commit corruption,” he said.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann, who was among the lawmakers at the session, said he did not believe the penal code provided concrete definitions of and appropriate penalties for defamation and disinformation offences.

“I am concerned that these crimes are still not clear, and the code will allow judges to interpret the law in order to intimidate individuals – perhaps those who file corruption-related complaints,” he said.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said anti-corruption legislation should provide for strict punishment of officials who take bribes and focus less on people who offer bribes.

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