Law on Civil Law Infraction Penalties Approved

The Council of Ministers on Friday approved a draft law outlining penalties for civil law infractions, including a measure that allows authorities to fine parents for failing to get birth certificates for their children, according to a Council of Ministers’ statement.

The maximum fine for parents who fail to obtain birth certificates for their children is 10,000 riel, or $2.50, Justice Secretary of State Long Phol said Sunday.

The draft law, which must be approved by the National As­sembly and Senate and signed by King Norodom Sihamoni, also details fines for forging sworn statements, failure to comply with court warrants, and lying under oath in civil cases.

SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said that the law should punish corrupt officials who demand bribes in exchange for issuing birth certificates, rather than poor parents who cannot afford to pay bribes to get official documents.

“People understand and they want to get birth certificates, but the real obstacle is the authorities who fail to disseminate information and demand bribes from people,” he said. “The law should apply first against corrupt authorities.”

Long Phol emphasized that authorities would only levy fines on parents in cases of neglect, not poverty. “Authorities can apply a symbolic penalty by making a fine of only 100 riel,” he said.

Sok Sam Oeun, director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, broadly commended the draft law for setting penalties commensurate with the crimes.

“The law is good because civil offenses must have civil penalties,” he said, adding: “Laws must have penalties; otherwise laws do not have the strength to force people to comply.”

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