A SENATOR from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party has written to the Senate requesting that it review certain articles of the new Penal Code to ensure the law is in line with the Constitution and international standards on freedom of expression.
In a letter dated Friday, Senator Kong Kom repeated concerns made by local and international critics that the law contains a number of excessive restrictions on freedom of expression and imprisonment for some forms of defamation.
“We are looking for the Senate to reconsider the recommendations of the national and international civil society groups because freedom of expression has not yet been fully realised in accordance with the Kingdom’s Constitution,” he said by phone Monday.
Kong Kom said that after being passed by the National Assembly earlier this month, the Penal Code was in the hands of the Senate’s Legislation and Justice Commission and would be reviewed for a month before the Senate votes to approve the bill. King Norodom Sihamoni is expected to sign the law at most one week after its approval by the Senate, he added.
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of Cambodia Defenders Project, said Monday that about 20 articles of the new code had been reviewed by a group of 30 NGOs, and that a written request for amendments would be submitted to the Senate within the next few days.
“We are not optimistic that our recommendations will be accepted, and that there will changes in the criminal code when the Senate reviews the law,” he said.
“But if there is no change, we will keep following it up when the law comes into force, and we will monitor our concerns.”