Cambodia: Parliament adopts 20 laws, transparency questioned.

.The lawmakers approved the laws during session. NA

The National Assembly yesterday said it passed 20 laws from October to January, the first three months of its third session.

However, civil society organisations said the process for the passing of the laws lacked transparency and input from relevant stakeholders.

According to a National Assembly’s statement issued yesterday, during its three months of work and besides adopting laws, its leaders and lawmakers had visited their constituents across the country.

It noted the third session began on October 4 last year and ended on Saturday.

The passed laws covered construction; e-commerce; social security funds; national budget 2020; payment guarantees on four solar projects; an amendment to the Trade Union Law; and ratification of the 1985 supplementary treaty and 2005 agreement on border demarcation Cambodia-Vietnam.

The statement said that the National Assembly also built up parliamentary diplomatic affairs to boost ties and cooperation with many countries around the world.

Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said that the National Assembly’s composition, along with weak state institutions, threatens an acceleration to the enactment of repressive legislation, prevents the advancement and achievement of human rights obligations.

“The lawmaking process lacks transparency and meaningful consultation with relevant stakeholders, including civil society, which results in the passing of laws that do not sufficiently protect the human rights of all citizens,” Ms Sopheap said.

Ms Sopheap added that one of the legislative developments unanimously approved by the National Assembly is the draft amendments to the Trade Union Law.

“The one-party composition of the National Assembly has weakened its ability to scrutinise problematic laws resulting in the approval of TUL amendments that fall short of international labour rights standards and violate international human rights law,” she said, referring to the ruling CPP sweeping all 125 parliamentary seats in the 2018 national election.

In November, the National Assembly unanimously passed amendments to the Trade Union Law to promote workers’ rights and ensure union freedom.

The Trade Union Law became effective in 2016, but unions decried some articles, saying they restricted union freedom.

National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long yesterday said that all laws included inputs from all relevant stakeholders.

“Every law such as Trade Union Law, we consulted with all stakeholders, including international partners,” Mr Peng Long said.

“Those critics have always criticised the laws but they have done nothing for the nation,” Mr Peng Long said, adding that all laws are being carried out to serve the public’s interest and to spur the Kingdom’s development.

“For example, the Law on Social Security Funds is to promote our people’s livelihoods,” he said.

Government Spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday echoed Mr Peng Long’s remark.

“Those adopted laws will serve people’s interests, including protection of the public interests and building of investors’ trust to develop Cambodia’s economy,” Mr Siphan said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said that the passed laws failed to serve people’s interests.

“When the legitimacy of the parliament is questionable and when there is little popular participation in the lawmaking, laws adopted do scarcely represent the will of the nation,” he said.

“They are little different from decrees enacted by the government. Such laws do not have much majesty and authority,” Mr Mong Hay said.