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Opposition to boycott law hearing in Senate

Opposition to boycott law hearing in Senate

Opposition senators will boycott today’s scheduled session, where a controversial Khmer Rouge crimes denial law is set to be addressed by the ruling party dominated body.

The Senate’s nine-member permanent committee is set to meet today and decide whether to put the denial law, which was last week passed by the National Assembly, up for vote.

Kong Korm, president of the Sam Rainsy Party and one of two SRP senators who make up the Senate’s permanent committee, told the Post yesterday that the party would abstain from the session following last week’s expulsion of opposition lawmakers from the National Assembly.

“We will absolutely not attend this session,” Korm said, adding that the law was made without proper consultation.

According to a statement from Um Sarith, secretary-general of the General Secretariat of the Senate, the committee will hold the session to inspect the law and set a date for its debate.

On Friday, two days after the National Assembly expelled all 27 opposition lawmakers, it rammed through a hastily drafted Khmer Rouge crimes denial law. Although the law will not go on the books until it is passed by the Senate and approved by the king, both steps are generally seen as little more than a rubber stamp.

The law makes denial of Khmer Rouge crimes an offence punishable by up to two years in prison and by fines of up to $1,000. Political parties and legal entities can also be held criminally liable if their representatives are found guilty, and face fines, suspension and dissolution. Rights groups have criticised the law, calling it hastily drafted, overly vague and most likely a tool for silencing dissent.

The law was proposed by the premier just days after the government leaked a tape of opposition leader Kem Sokha allegedly claiming the notorious Tuol Sleng security centre was staged.

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