Gov’t Official Calls Immunity Law ‘Ridiculous’

Constitutional Council member Son Soubert said Tuesday that the law passed last week by the National Assembly limiting the speech of parliamentarians is “ri­diculous” and likely unconstitutional.

Son Soubert’s remark was directed at Article 5 of the law, which crim­inalizes statements by lawmakers that “abuse an individual’s dignity, social customs, public order and national security.”

The law is farcical because it fails to define exactly what abusing an in­dividual’s dignity means, said Son Sou­bert, adding that he doubted such a definition is even possible.

Son Soubert’s comments come as Sam Rainsy claimed that his party has submitted a petition to the Constitutional Council asking that Article 5 be ruled unconstitutional.

The SRP petition states that the provision violates Article 80 of the Constitution, which states that As­sembly members cannot be ar­rest­ed or prosecuted for any opinions ex­­pressed while exercising their duties.

The petition contained the signatures of 15 SRP parliamentarians—more than the 10 percent of As­sembly members required to compel the Constitutional Council to re­view the law.

Sam Rainsy, who admitted Mon­day that 10 of his SRP lawmakers had actually voted in favor of the law, said that most of the lawmakers who signed the Constitutional Council petition were not present when the law was passed.

Despite the 10 SRP members voting for the law, Sam Rainsy said that all 24 SRP Assembly members now want Article 5 annulled.

Son Soubert said that he has not yet seen the SRP petition but added that if Article 5 does restrict the speech of parliamentarians, it is likely unconstitutional.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap reiterated his stance that the law was designed to prevent lawmakers from abusing their immunity. He also said that it was “shameful” for SRP lawmakers to vote for a law and then seek its annulment.


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