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New accountability in disaster management

New accountability in disaster management

New articles may be added to a draft law on disaster management, including punishments for officials who break the law.

The current draft includes prison sentences and small fines for people who, for example, enter restricted areas during a disaster.

But the proposed new stipulations would also cover government officials who fail to respond adequately to natural disasters.

CNRP lawmaker Pol Ham, head of the National Assembly’s environment committee, said he had asked the government to add an article to the law before it is passed.

Under the current draft, people entering restricted areas will face up to a year in jail and a fine between $25 and $500. The committee has asked for this to be reduced to a maximum of six days behind bars and a $125 fine.

People found to have hindered a disaster management operation will face up to a year in prison and a $500 fine.

The new article would make disaster management authorities culpable for any negligence, leading to up to two years in prison and a $1,250 fine.

Nhim Vanda, vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), said the new article would be included in the law, and urged parliament to approve it as soon as possible.

NCDM estimates that 136 people died as a result of natural phenomena last year, down from 300 in 2013, a year of disastrous flooding.

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