THIS REPORT IS ENGLISH ONLY – GERMAN here

Phnom Penh. Cambodia’s National Assembly on Friday adopted a law to criminalize the denial of crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime. 

The bill was adopted unanimously by the 86 members who attended the session. Opposition parties were excluded from the debate and the vote.

NachrichtenagenturThe legislation would punish people who refuse to acknowledge crimes, who deny or challenge the existence of crimes, or people who promote crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge regime.

People convicted under the law could be imprisoned for up to two years, or pay fines of up to 4 million riel (1,000 dollars).

Human rights groups have criticized the law, saying that it was drafted too rapidly. The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) said the timing of the debate in parliament, less than eight weeks before national elections, „suggests that it is politically motivated.“

“[CCHR] believes that the Denial Law is unnecessary and [is] contrary to provisions protecting freedom of expression,” it said.

However Cheam Yeap, a lawmaker from the ruling Cambodia People Party said the law was not intended to punish people who simply want to talk about the Khmer Rouge regime.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly permanent committee stripped 28 opposition lawmakers from the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party of their parliamentary status and salaries.

Independent political analyst Kem Ley said this decision may affect the legitimacy of the law in the eyes of the people.

“[The] population and all stakeholders should be involved in the discussion of this law,” he said. “The draft was not carefully developed and remains without clear purpose and framework. However, I think such a law is important for Cambodia.”

Author | Sarah Thust

Last Update | 07.06.2013

Licensed | dpa – German news agency

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The Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa is a German news agency founded in 1949. Based in Hamburg, it has grown to be a major worldwide operation serving print media, radio, television, online, mobile phones, and national news agencies. News is available in German, English, Spanish, and Arabic.