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Immunity Vote Will Hurt Parliament: Expert

The National Assembly’s vote to take parliamentary immunity from two opposition lawmakers will lead to a deterioration of lawmakers’ expression, a leading democracy expert said Monday.

Without a guarantee of immunity, lawmakers will be less likely to express their opinions, said Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“They express their opinion, that is their main task—voicing support or criticism on policy, its implementation by the government, the ruling party, a draft law—that’s the role of the [parliamentarian],” he said.

Truly democratic countries rarely stripped immunity of its lawmakers, he said, but wrongdoers often themselves resign. The constitution provides for strong protections of parliamentarians, he said.

One of the Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers, Mu Sochua, who is a facing a lawsuit for defamation from Hun Sen, spoke live on “Hello VOA” before her departure from Phnom Penh International Airport, saying she had not had any problem with the police and would return July 6.

The court dropped Mu Sochua’s own suit against the prime minister, for allegedly degrading remarks during the 2008 campaign, following Hun Sen’s countersuit.