Council of Ministers Approves Draft Law on Weapons Ban Approves Weapons Ban Law, Women’s Rights Pending

The Council of Ministers on Friday examined two documents re­lated to the application of international treaties signed long ago by Cambodia and already en­shrined in the Constitution, ac­cording to statements released by the Council of Ministers.

The Council approved Friday the Draft Law on the Ban of Chem­­ical, Nuclear, Biological and Radiation Weapons, which will now be sent to the National As­sem­bly, said a Friday statement from the Council of Ministers. The law is a blanket ban on the production, presence, maintenance, transit and use of such weapons on Cambodian territory, according to the statement.

Cambodia has been party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty since 1972, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention since 1983, the Southeast Asian Nuclear Non-Proliferation Zone Treaty since 1997 and the Chem­ical Weapons Convention since 2005. Article 54 of the Con­stit­ution also prohibits the “manufacturing, use, storage of nuc­lear, chemical or biological weapons.”

“We preserve the right to get foreign aid such as military aid, explosive weapons, military force training and other assistance to defend and ensure public order and security in the country,” the statement read.

The law, if passed, would give the Ministry of Defense the ap­propriate tools to manage such weapons if they were introduced in Cambodia, said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Si­phan. Peaceful nuclear operations to produce electrical power would remain a legal option, he said.

The Council of Ministers also submitted to Prime Minister Hun Sen, though it did not have time to discuss or approve, an “optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women,” Phay Siphan added. Cambodia signed that treaty in 1992, and in 1993 wrote in Article 45 of the Constitution that “men and wo­m­en are equal in all fields.”

A second Friday statement from the council mentioned, with­out detailing them, the creation of procedures to allow women to lodge complaints in in­stances of discrimination.

Promoting CEDAW and facilitating legal recourses for women is important, said Ros Sopheap, executive director of Gender Development in Cambodia.

“In the first mandate of the commune councils, there were many instances where women felt discriminated against and they didn’t know where to go,” she said.

But complaints will still need to be carried through by the police and judicial system, which so far often consider women’s rights issues to be part of the private, family sphere and not of their concern, she added.


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