Laws & Regulations

 

CONSTITUTION

Cambodia’s Constitution was adopted by the Constitutional Assembly on September 21, 1993. It is the supreme law of the Kingdom of Cambodia and organizes Cambodia’s government and institutions. All laws and regulations derive from the Constitution’s provisions and must conform to it.1 The Constitution addresses questions of sovereignty, the role and status of the king, the fundamental rights of the Khmer citizens, the economy, education, culture and social affairs, the functioning of the National Assembly, the Senate, congress and the government, the functioning of the judiciary, Constitutional Council and the administration.

Cambodia's Constitution and Constitutional Council

Revision of the Constitution

The Constitution can only be amended or revised when an initiative is undertaken. The king and the prime minister can submit an initiative on their own accord. The president of the National Assembly can also submit such an initiative, but only after the initiative was requested by at least one-fourth of the National Assembly.2 The revision or amendment must be enacted in a law passed by the assembly with a 2/3-majority vote. Revisions or amendments are prohibited if the country is in a state of emergency (a notion that is not legally defined), or if the amendment in question intends to affect the system of liberal and pluralistic democracy or the regime of the constitutional monarchy.

The Constitution has been amended 5 times:

·     in 1994 (delegation of power from the king’s signature to the acting head of state)

·         1999 (institution of the Senate)

·         2001 (creation and conferring medals by the king)

·         2005 (amendment of the quorum of the session and the adopting vote of the National Assembly and the Senate)

·         2006 (amendment of quorum of the session and of the adopting vote of the National Assembly and the Senate).

HIERARCHY OF LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Law and regulations are classified in order of importance. There are numerous legal norms adopted by the legislative and executive powers: Constitution, laws, decrees, decisions, and so on. There is a strict hierarchy between them, so that each norm of a lower level must conform with those of a higher value. This prevents conflict between norms.

Cambodia's categories of laws and regulations
Constitution: The supreme law of the Kingdom of Cambodia
International treaties: The king signs and ratifies international treaties and conventions after their approval by the National Assembly and the Senate. After such ratification, international treaties and conventions become laws and may be used as the basis for judicial decisions. (Article 26 of the Constitution)
Chbab/law: Laws adopted by the National Assembly
Kram and kret (royal kram and royal decree): Decrees issued under the name of the king in execution of his constitutional powers
Anukret/sub-decree: Are signed by the prime minister after adoption by a cabinet meeting. In case the cabinet meeting has not adopted the sub-decree, countersignature by the minister(s) in charge is required. The prime minister can use this in execution of his own regulatory powers.
Prakas/proclamations: Are issued by members of the government in execution of their own regulatory powers.
Sechdei samrech/decision: Individual decision(s) made by the prime minister, minister or governor (prakas-deika), which are made in execution of his own regulatory powers
Sarachor/circular: In general, a circular is issued by the prime minister as the head of government, and by a minister as an official of the relevant ministry either to explain or clarify legal regulatory measures or to provide instructions.
Deka/provincial ordinance: Orders issued by a governor within the territorial limits of his province.

Despite this hierarchy, laws and regulations often contradict each other. Since there is no power or entity in charge of overseeing or reviewing inconsistent laws and regulations, confusion often arises as to which law or regulation should be followed.

THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS

The National Assembly and the Senate share the legislative power. Senators, members of the National Assembly and the prime minister have the right to initiate legislation by making draft laws or proposed laws.11 The legislative process usually takes a few months to be completed. However, in cases of emergency the process is shortened and laws can be approved within days.

Laws are enacted after an absolute majority (50% + 1) of the National Assembly votes to adopt the law.12

about Cambodia's legislative process

Most of the texts that come into form are draft laws (initiative of the government). When the draft/proposed law is an initiative of the Senate, the National Assembly can propose amendments only if they do not reduce citizens’ income or increase the burden on people.

A large proportion of laws are issued from the shortened procedure based on the invocation of a state of emergency, which means they are adopted within a few days and leave very little time for reflection or perfection of the law. For example, the Law on the Aggravating Circumstances of Crimes (2002), the Law on the Duration of Pre-trial Detention (1999), the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Constitutional Council (1998) and the Labor Law (1997) were adopted through the emergency legislative process.

When the National Assembly examines the request of modification made by the Senate, it can only decide on the provisions that have been proposed for modification by the Senate. It then either rejects the proposed modification(s), or adopts it entirely or partly.

The process of sending the draft/proposed law back and forth between the Senate and the National Assembly must be completed within one month. This period is reduced to 10 days in the case of national budget and finance laws, and 2 days for an urgent law.

When the Senate rejects the draft/proposed law (nullifying it), the National Assembly cannot take it into consideration for a second time before a period of one month has expired. This period is reduced to 15 days in case of national budget or finance laws, and 4 days if urgent.

Promulgation occurs with the king’s signature. Laws enter into force in Phnom Penh 10 days after promulgation, and throughout the country 20 days after promulgation. However, if the law is declared urgent is shall enter into force throughout the country immediately.

All laws shall be published in the Royal Gazette and announced throughout the country in accordance with the time frame set out above.

THE JUDICIARY AND COURTS

The Cambodian judicial system is composed of courts of first instance, appeals courts, and a Supreme Court.

According to article 128 of the Constitution, the judiciary is independent, guaranteeing and upholding impartiality and protecting the rights and freedoms of the citizens. The Constitution also states that judicial power should not be granted to the legislative or executive branches and should cover all lawsuits, including administrative ones. The Constitution of Cambodia leaves the functioning of the judiciary to be determined in a separate law. The law on the organization and the activities of the adjudicate courts was promulgated in 1993.

Trials are conducted in the name of the Khmer citizens in accordance with the legal procedures and laws into force. Only judges have the right to adjudicate. A judge must fulfill this duty with strict respect of laws, wholeheartedly and conscientiously.

Fair trial rights are embedded in a wide range of laws and procedural rules. The presumption of innocence, burden of proof, and rules governing the admissibility and exclusion of evidence are examples of codified fair trial rights afforded to all.

1. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 150
2. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 151
3. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, articles 86, 152 and 153
4. Data available on the Constitutional Council of Cambodia’s official website: www.ccc.gov.kh/English/history.php; last consulted on July 23, 2013
5. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 137
6. Constitution of the kingdom of Cambodia, article 136
7. Law on the Organization and the Functioning of the Constitutional Council, March 23, 1998, articles 17 and 18
8. Law on the Organization and the Functioning of the Constitutional Council, March 23, 1998, article 19
9. http://www.ccc.gov.kh/english/, last consulted on July 20 2013
10. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, articles 90 and 99
11. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 91, par.1
12. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 90
13. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 91, par.2
14. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 113, par.3
15. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 113, par.4
16. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 113, par.6
17. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 93, par.1
18. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 93, par.2
19. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 129
20. Law on the Organization and Activities of the Adjudicate Courts of Cambodia, February 8 1993, article 2
21. Koy Neam, Introduction to the Cambodian Judicial Process, The Asia Foundation, 1998
22. Law on the Organization and Activities of the Adjudicate Courts of Cambodia, February 8 1993, article 5, par.1
23. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 131
24. Law on the Organization and Activities of the Adjudicate Courts of Cambodia, February 8 1993, article 6
25. Law on the Organization and Activities of the Adjudicate Courts of Cambodia, February 8 1993, article 7
26. Law on the Organization and Activities of the Adjudicate Courts of Cambodia, February 8 1993, article 3
27. S. Sok and D. Sarin, Legal System of Cambodia, The Cambodian Legal Resources Development Center, 1998, p.54–55
28. Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, article 133
29. United Nations, Report: Kingdom of Cambodia: Public Administration Country Profile, Phnom Penh, 2004, p.6
30. Cambodia Office of the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner Human Rights, ‘Notes on the legal and judicial reform for the mid-term consultative groups of donors meeting’, Phnom Penh, 2003, p.5
31. Law on the Organization and Activities of the Adjudicate Courts of Cambodia, February 8 1993, articles 2 and 9
32. Law on the Organization and Activities of the Adjudicate Courts of Cambodia, February 8 1993, article 9.

 

http://www.moj.gov.kh

http://www.cambodiainvestment.gov.kh/laws-regulation.html