Protected Areas Draft Law Snags on Self-Defense Article

National Assembly President Heng Samrin sent the much-anticipated protected areas draft law back to the drawing board Wednesday following concerns by lawmakers over an article that would give environmental officials the right to use weap­ons in self-defense.

Heng Samrin ordered the Min­istry of Environment and the As­sembly’s legislation commission to re­work chapter nine of the law, in the hopes that debate could continue on the law today.

Chapter 9, Article 48 states that the relevant environmental officials, “in their role as judicial police, shall have the authority to use weapons [in] self-defense against physical violence by offenders.”

Funcinpec lawmaker Soth So­thon said that giving environmental officials this power would only lead to more violence, as too many officials already use their weapons irresponsibly.

He cited specifically the many rubber plantation guards in Kom­pong Cham province that have shot and killed scavengers, but have never been brought to justice.

When SRP lawmaker Kim Suor Phirith then raised the issue of forestry officials in Ratanakkiri province taking bribes from illegal loggers, Heng Samrin told him to keep to the topic.

In response, Kim Suor Phirith said that it is very hard for lawmakers requesting changes to draft laws to make themselves heard in the Assembly.

Heng Samrin said lawmakers should stay on topic and make comments that forward the discussion.

Funcinpec lawmaker Monh Sa­phan complained that lawmakers’ requests often fall on deaf ears. “We just give recommendations to improve the Ministry of Environ­ment,” he said.

Shortly thereafter, Heng Samrin ordered for the draft to be revised.

Reached by telephone later in the day, Monh Saphan said that it was the first time since Heng Samrin became Assembly president in March 2006 that he has ordered a reworking of a draft law.

“This is the first time. I am happy. This shows that the president listened to the minority,” he said.

Related Stories

Exit mobile version