The National Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a provision that would allow commercial inspectors more latitude to search a business if they suspect laws are being broken.
Seventy-nine out of 90 lawmakers voted in favor of the much-debated provision, which is part of the new Law on Quality of Goods and Services.
Under Article 29 of the law, commercial inspectors would be allowed to search a business, even if it is located inside a person’s home, without a court order. A court order would be required when the search takes place outside business hours.
CPP lawmaker Ek Sam Ol criticized the provision, saying it goes against the penal code and the Constitution, which say a person’s home cannot be searched until a court prosecutor gives permission.
“It’s very risky to go against [Untac’s] transitional penal law and international standards,” Ek Sam Ol said. “This won’t help the protection of human rights for our people.”
Funcinpec lawmaker Khlok Buddhi agreed, and noted that the majority of Cambodians have businesses inside their homes.
“If we pass this provision, we are walking toward the abuse of human rights,” he said.
Khlok Buddhi added that the provision will discourage investment because foreign companies will not want to establish offices in a country whose laws don’t meet international standards.
Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, however, supported the provision and stressed that inspectors would be allowed to search a business only if they have evidence of illegal activities.
“This is another guarantee for social safety,” said Son Chhay, chairman of the Public Works and Commercial Commission at the National Assembly. “We cannot let people use their home to hide illegal activities.”
Khek Ravy, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, agreed. “This provision will not be implemented to contradict current legal principles,” he said.
The National Assembly is continuing to debate the commercial law, with about 20 articles still under consideration. About 50 articles were passed during the As-sembly’s last session in December before the lawmakers went on holiday.