Cambodian ministry decries calls for delays to election law amendments

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin made the assertion after nearly 30 CSOs, associations and trade unions expressed “grave” concerns.

Kim Yutharo

Kim Yutharo

The Phnom Penh Post


Justice ministry spokesman Chin Malin. CHIN MALIN VIA FB

June 30, 2023

PHNOM PENH – A request for the postponement of amendments to the Kingdom’s election law by civil society organisations (CSOs) in the run-up to the July 23 general election is not based on the Constitution, as the amendments are clearly in the public interest, said Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin.

He made the assertion on June 27, the day after nearly 30 CSOs, associations and trade unions issued a statement expressing “grave” concerns about the amendments.

The CSOs’ statement claimed that the amendment was made in a hasty manner, and did not go through a consultation process with relevant stakeholders including CSOs, in what it said was a departure from the democratic path that requires their input. It added that the amendments were made at an inappropriate time, as the election draws near.

“We request that the Senate and the Constitutional Council delay the proposed amendments to the election law until after the [July 23] parliamentary election, to allow enough time for the thorough study and deliberation on its impacts on free democracy, the electorate’s freedom of expression as well as the right to vote and to stand as a candidate,” said the statement.

It also suggested that the amendment appeared to be aimed at depriving politicians of their right to stand for election in the event of not casting a ballot, while some citizens and politicians may not be able to perform their voting duties. The amendment would negatively impact the right to vote and stand for election, which are protected by the Constitution and international human rights laws.

They called on the government, the NA and the Senate to make the law available for a wide-ranging dialogue on democracy, rights, and broad participation in freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association as well as the right to run for election, and the right to vote for Cambodian people living or working abroad to enable them to exercise their rights in accordance with the Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Cambodia ratified in 1992.

The CSO statement signatories include the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL), rights groups ADHOC and LICADHO, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL) and the Cambodian Institute for Democracy.

Bu Malin explained: “Their suggestions and interpretations lack legal grounds, and are not based on constitutional aspects at all. The amendments to the election law were based on the new Article 34 of the Constitution.”

He added that the Constitution stipulated that the right to vote or stand in an election are not absolute, but may be restricted in order to ensure a quality election, with quality candidates.

National Election Committee (NEC) spokesman Hang Puthea said on June 27 that the statement did not concern the body as it is an independent law enforcement institution.

“After the National Assembly [NA] and Senate approve this law and it is promulgated by the King, we will act accordingly,” he said.

The Senate issued a June 27 press release, saying its standing Committee was due to convene a June 28 meeting to examine and approve the amendments.

The press release said the meeting followed a unanimous vote in favour of the amendments by the NA on June 23.

scroll to top