With strong bipartisan support, the National Assembly on Wednesday passed the country’s first animal health and production law, which sets out rules for the humane treatment of livestock and the safe processing of animal meat.
Without any amendments or complaints from the floor, the law passed with 100 votes from the 102 lawmakers who showed up.
After the vote, opposition lawmaker Yem Ponhearith said the law was created to prevent the outbreak of animal diseases and to stop tainted meat from reaching consumers.
Thousands of pigs and poultry have been culled across the country in recent years to deal with the outbreak of blue-ear pig disease, avian flu and other animal viruses.
“Obviously there is not enough care in the raising of animals for their meat,” Mr. Ponhearith said. “So, for example, the law will require production to follow some standards, like proper hygiene, to get meat for people to eat without affecting their health.”
Until now, he added, the country also lacked specific penalties for farmers and abattoirs using dangerous practices.
“Now, the law covers this point …including the suspension of licenses for farms that do not follow the standards and that torture animals.
“And the law requires veterinarians to check for and track animal diseases to prevent the diseases from spreading to other animals, and to humans who eat the meat of those animals.”
Speaking from the Assembly floor, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Cambodia also needed the law to consolidate a patchwork of related regulations that have been poorly enforced.
“Since Cambodia gained independence there has not been a law addressing the health and production of animals…only sub-decrees, circulars, proclamations and guidelines,” he said. “But the implementation has not been complete, so the National Assembly cannot reject [this law].”
The law will have to be approved by the Senate and signed by the king, both formalities, before taking effect.
Wednesday’s Assembly session was the first attended by the CNRP after the party boycotted parliament for the past two months, citing safety fears in the wake of the October 26 beating of two of its lawmakers just outside the Assembly compound.