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Council says state of emergency draft law in line with Constitution

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During a plenary session held Monday, the Constitutional Council of Cambodia unanimously approved the new draft law. Ministry of Justice

Council says state of emergency draft law in line with Constitution

The Constitutional Council of Cambodia (CCC) unanimously approved a state of emergency draft law at a plenary session on Monday night, before it was sent to the Royal Government by the National Assembly for approval.

The assembly’s general secretary and spokesman Leng Penglong confirmed to The Post on Tuesday that the law was sent to the government to propose that the King sign a Royal Kret, or decree, to be able to implement it.

“This law can only be implemented if the King declares a state of emergency,” Penglong clarified.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post on Tuesday that he has not obtained the draft law yet.

He explained that normally when the CCC approves a draft law, it must be sent to the Ministry of Justice or the Council of Ministers before it is sent to the King requesting his signature.

“I believe the National Assembly forwarded the proposal to the Ministry of Justice, which is the main headquarters of the government, to process it according to legal procedure.

But as of Tuesday afternoon, I have not received legal documentation attached to the resolution,” he said.

Ministry spokesman Chin Malin could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

CCC spokesman Taing Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that after listening to government representatives’ explanations of the draft law at Monday night’s meeting, the CCC unanimously decided the law was in the spirit of Cambodia’s Constitution.

The government first drafted the state of emergency law on March 31, based on Article 22 of the Constitution, which states: “When the nation faces danger, the King shall make a proclamation to the people putting the country in a state of emergency after agreement with the prime minister and the president of the National Assembly and president of the Senate”.

The law was first approved by the National Assembly on April 10, at its fourth session.

It states that the decision to declare a state of emergency shall be made when the nation faces a threat to its security or public order. Any disaster which might harm the country could trigger the decision, including war, an invasion of enemy troops or a public health crisis due to the outbreak of any illness.

The law states that a state of emergency can’t last for more than three months, but if dangerous conditions persist, a state of emergency can be declared again.

If a state of emergency is declared, the government can issue at least 12 regulations aimed at responding to the emergency.

Anyone caught violating the laws or regulations declared during a state of emergency will be imprisoned for one to five years and fined from two million riel ($500) to 10 million riel. Any criminal charges stemming from a violation would be applied in addition to these penalties.

The law also states that anyone caught inciting public chaos or affecting national security shall be imprisoned for five to 10 years.

For lesser offences which still disrespect the state of emergency, a perpetrator could be imprisoned for one month to a year and fined between 100,000 and two million riel.

If the offence incites public chaos or affects national security, the perpetrator could be jailed for one to five years and fined between two million and 10 million riel.

Perpetrators who commit similar misdeeds before a state of emergency is declared will be charged and tried in the courts.

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