Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Immunity question moves to fore

Immunity question moves to fore

CNRP lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua
CNRP lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua seen here Tuesday after a rally turned violent. She was one of several charged yesterday. Vireak Mai

Immunity question moves to fore

The night before violence broke out at Freedom Park on Tuesday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak took pains to assert that opposition lawmakers-elect, who have not taken their seats at the National Assembly in protest, do not have parliamentary immunity and could, therefore, have the law “imposed with force” against them.

Now, with five Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers-elect in custody, charged with serious offences, the issue of whether they have immunity is being put to the test.

Mu Sochua, one of those charged, yesterday cited her immunity in calling the detention “unconstitutional”.

CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha said that if the ruling party deems the current National Assembly legitimate, then it’s a double standard to not grant all elected assembly members immunity. He also said that before arresting or detaining lawmakers with immunity, two-thirds of parliamentary approval is needed.

Political analyst Kem Ley agreed: “It is contradicting what [the CPP] said before”.

The CNRP has long argued the assembly is illegitimate because only 68 ruling party lawmakers were sworn in despite the Constitution saying the assembly “shall comprise at least 120 members”.

But numerous analysts and lawyers have questioned that reasoning, arguing that by being elected, lawmakers become official “members” of the assembly, thereby satisfying the requirement, though they cannot commence their duties until they take their oaths.

A top lawyer from a local firm who requested anonymity said yesterday that because the constitution states that “members” of the assembly enjoy immunity, the CNRP should also have it.

“In my reading of Article 80 of the constitution, I believe that the lawmakers-elect should have their parliamentary immunity even though they have not sworn in, because literally they are members of the parliament,” he said.

But a Cambodian constitutional law expert at a respected local university, who also declined to be named, disagreed. Opposition lawmakers-elect would have to be sworn in to “confirm their validity”.

“In short, an elected member is not immediately an MP, not until provision of Article 82 of the constitution and Provision 2 and 3 of the internal rules of the National Assembly are observed,” he said.

The internal provisions involve elected candidates being declared as “full-rights MPs” by the Assembly president at the first meeting of every parliamentary session and having their names publicly posted to “determine the validity”.

Article 82 says that after opening, the National Assembly “shall declare the validity of each Member’s mandate”, with members having to take an oath.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Bosba: The first Khmer woman composer from UK’s Cambridge

    Bosba Panh is just 25 years old, but she’s already accomplished some impressive milestones for herself and the Kingdom. On July 24, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge as the first Khmer woman composer and Khmer music graduate ever at

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway