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Assembly Resumes Demonstration Debate


The National Assembly on Monday restarted debate on a demonstrations law that critics charge will erode freedoms of speech and assembly.

Seventy-six of 103 lawmakers, all of them from the dominant Cambodian People’s Party, approved the second chapter of the draft law, with members of the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties voting against.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said the law would allow the government to oppress “democrats.”

Proponents of the law, which sets rules on when demonstrations can and can’t be held, say it is necessary for preventing unrest.

“This law is important, important for us to follow the law and carry it out for people who do not respect the law,” Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly, told reporters after Monday’s session.

Critics find faults in places like Chapter 2, Article 7, which requires the announcement of peaceful demonstrations five days ahead of its scheduled date, and Article 14, which limits the number of demonstrators in any gathering to 200 people.

“This law closes democracy for those who want peaceful demonstrations,” Sam Rainsy said.

Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said the law remained unclear on the precepts of national security and public disorder that would be used by authorities to allow or prevent demonstrations.

Debate on the demonstration law follows the passage earlier this month of a modern penal code.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, rights group and opposition members urged the passage of two laws that would strengthen the judiciary.

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