The Council of Ministers is to discuss the new and long-awaited penal code on Friday, a 678-article law that government officials say is the reason for the delay in passing the long-awaited anti-corruption law, officials said Wednesday.
Phay Siphan, Council of Ministers Secretary of State, said that once the Council meeting, which will be presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen, approves the 50-chapter draft, it will be sent “right away” to the National Assembly for approval.
“If there is support from the full session meeting, the draft would be next sent to the National Assembly right away,” Mr Siphan said, adding that the term “right away” means “a few days.”
Once parliament approves the penal code, the government will begin working on the anti-corruption draft law, Mr Siphan said, but he didn’t say exactly when that would take place.
“Corrupt acts are regarded as a felony, so when the penal [code] succeeds, [the anti-corruption draft] will follow behind,” he said.
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the free legal aid Cambodian Defenders Project, said that news of Friday’s discussion on the code “is a good sign,” as it would move the government one step further toward an anti-corruption law.
Mr Sam Oeun, however, also recommended a measure of caution.
“Let’s see when the penal code is finished. What comes next?” he said.