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Senate set to review emergency law

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National Assembly (NA) president Heng Samrin said a state of emergency shall be declared by the King on the agreement and advise of the prime minister and presidents of the Senate and NA. NA

Senate set to review emergency law

The Senate’s Standing Committee is set to convene a meeting on Monday to review the state of emergency draft law after it was unanimously passed by the National Assembly (NA) on Thursday.

Senate spokesman Mam Bun Neang said the committee will put the law up for deliberation and approval during a plenary session on Friday.

“After a review by the Standing Committee and specialised commission, we will have a second Standing Committee meeting before holding a plenary session to approve it on April 17,” he said.

The bill now consists of five chapters and 12 articles after the NA’s approval.

In a Facebook post on Friday, NA president Heng Samrin said the law was drafted under Article 22 of the Constitution.

“The decision to put the country in a state of emergency is made when the nation faces dangers, war or invasion of foreign forces, a public health emergency due to disease outbreak, chaos that undermines national security and social order, and disasters that may wreak havoc throughout the country,” he said.

In any of these cases, he said a state of emergency shall be declared by the King on the agreement and advice of the prime minister and presidents of the Senate and National Assembly.

A copy of the draft law seen by The Post on Sunday said a state of emergency may not exceed three months, though it can be prolonged under the same conditions as when it is declared.

Article 5 stipulates that certain measures would be taken in a state of emergency including restrictions on the people’s rights, freedom of movement, gatherings, jobs and occupations.

It allows the state to impose a lockdown, quarantine, conscription and evacuation. The state can also manage, seize and handle properties when necessary to respond to an emergency.

The article stipulates that the state can set prices on necessities and services, shut down public or private venues, conduct surveillance and monitoring by all means to receive information through telecommunication systems, prohibit dissemination or publication of information that may cause fear or social chaos.

The draft law imposes penalties on both the public and authorities in case of violations.

It stipulates a maximum 10-year imprisonment and a fine of up to 10 million riel ($2,500) for anyone caught breaking it or hindering its enforcement.

Article 10 states: “Officials found abusing their power by violating this law arbitrarily, causing bodily harm or damage to the property of another person shall be held accountable in accordance with the laws of the land.”

Former opposition lawmaker Ou Chanrath welcomed the law, but called on the government not to use it as a pretext to abuse human rights.

“The law enables the government to contain the pandemic, but I hope it will not use it to suppress the people’s freedom,” he said.

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