Absent Lawmakers Stall Debate on Draft Law

The long-stalled draft law on domestic violence has been de­layed at the National Assembly once again. This time because 45 parliamentarians were no-shows. 

If passed, the law would be the first to legally define domestic violence in Cambodia and give victims of spousal abuse legal re­course. Although the law was scheduled to be discussed Tues­day, debate was postponed for lack of a quorum. A quorum requires 86 lawmakers; only 77 showed up on Tuesday.

The session was canceled be­cause the absent lawmakers were off visiting constituents in their respective provinces, said Heng Samrin, first vice president of the Assembly.

Heng Samrin attributed the absences to lawmakers making preparations for the upcoming national elections. He said absenteeism could become rampant this session, especially during campaigning, which begins June 26.

It’s going to be tough to have a quorum, he said, but lawmakers will try to find one, at least to pass the domestic violence law.

“I understand that parliamentarians should visit and help people, but they can’t forget national issues. The domestic violence law is the most important to be ap­proved. We must help the Khmer women who are suffering,” said As­sembly member Keo Remy, who recently defected from Fun­cinpec to the Sam Rainsy Party.

It is unfair that some political leaders have started campaigning on television and radio because the campaign period hasn’t officially started, Keo Remy said.

One of the draft law’s chief proponents, Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua, didn’t see this latest delay as a sign the domestic violence legislation won’t be passed during this session. Most  members have pledged their support for the draft law, she said.

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