The law-making process is about making and enacting new laws or revising existing laws.
In the Kingdom of Cambodia, three institutions can initiate the law-making process: any member of the National Assembly, any member of the Senate and the prime minister. 1 Most of the texts presented come from the prime minister. 2
If the draft is initiated/prepared by the Government, the draft is called “draft law”. However, in order to initiate a draft, the Government has to follow these steps:3
- First, the Government has to explain the need for a new piece of legislation. It must address expressly an issue related to social, economic or other matters with an identified policy.
- The Government must then prepare the Introduction or Statement of Causes in two phases. At the first stage, the relevant institution organizes discussions with stakeholders, other affected ministries, sub-national administration officials and civil society, NGOs and the private sector on social, economic and financial issues. At the second stage, the relevant administrative body re-consults on the technical, social, cultural and political aspects.
- A draft law is prepared in accordance with Government institutions: ministries, the Council of Ministers, the Council of Jurists, the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), inter-ministerial meetings and the prime minister.
- When the executive branch has adopted it, the draft law is sent to the National Assembly who then forwards the draft to the Permanence Committee for further review and comment. Once approved, the Permanence Committee can either pass the draft directly to discuss in the plenary session by setting the agenda or refer the draft to one of the ten Specialized Commissions (Expert Committee) whose expertise is related to the content in the draft law for more review. Once considered matter, the Specialized Commission can submit the law back to the Permanence Committee for final review. The Permanence Committee then set the agenda to debate the draft law in the plenary session of the National Assembly.
If the National Assembly or the Senate proposes a law, the draft is call “proposed law”. The proposed law is submitted directly to the Permanence Committee of the National Assembly for review. The next process goes the same in case there is a need to refer the proposed law to its relevant Specialized Commission for further check and comment. Both the Committee and the Commission have three options when reviewing the submitted text: not to consider, to consider, or to consider as urgent.4
In plenary session, before debating on the law, the National Assembly has to first approve the agenda through an opened vote. Once the agenda is approved, members of the National Assembly will debate on the draft or proposed law accordingly to the procedure. After the draft law has been brought to the floor,5 members of the National Assembly can review and amend it. Then, the National Assembly in a full meeting decides to validate the proposed amendments.6 In case of draft law, the National Assembly will invite the submitter from the Royal Government to defense the law. In case of proposed law, the members of the National Assembly who proposed the law can form a group to defense the law. When the law is adopted by the National Assembly, it shall be then sent to the Senate for first review and comment. The Senate can suggest revision or change to the draft/proposed law within 30 days after the submission. If later than a month, the law shall be passed regardless. After the National Assembly sends the first draft of the law to the Senate, the Senate has three options:
- Not to respond within the time limit.7
- Review and approve the law.8
- Review the law and request revisions.9
The process of cross checking between the Senate and the National Assembly happens within a month after the Assembly’s adoption. If the Senate proposes revisions to the law, it is sent back to the National Assembly for the first review. In this case, the National Assembly has three options:
- Accept the revisions and send the revised law directly to the King for promulgation.
- Partially reject or accept revisions and send the law back to the Senate for another review.
- Fully reject revisions provided by the Senate and send the law back for another review.
If the Senate insists on the proposed revisions, the National Assembly can review the proposed revisions for a second time. In this case, the National Assembly can accept the Senate’s proposal for revisions or reject the proposed revisions. Either way, the law will be sent to the King for promulgation. When both sides reach consensus and compromise on the draft/proposed law, the law shall be submitted back to the National Assembly before it is sent to the Council of Ministers. The government shall then prepare supportive documents and send along with the approved draft/proposed law to the King for promulgation through the Royal Code. Law that is signed by the King is in effect and become enforceable 10 days in the capital and 20 days for countrywide after promulgation. Laws declared urgent come into force immediately in the whole country after the King’s promulgation.10
- Law and Judiciary
- Constitution and rights
- SDG 16 Peace, justice and strong institutions
- 1. “Constitution of Cambodia,” art.91.
- 2. Ministry of Justice and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, “Introduction to Legislative Drafting: References and Techniques,” 2016. Accessed in August 2021.
- 3. “Circular No. 03 on implementation and Guidelines on procedures and rules for drafting laws and other legal documents,” signed on 24 May 2013.
- 4. “Internal Regulations of the National Assembly,” principle 24.
- 5. “Circular No. 03 on implementation and Guidelines on procedures and rules for drafting laws and other legal documents,” signed on 24 May 2013.
- 6. “Internal Regulations of the National Assembly,” principle 27.
- 7. “Constitution of Cambodia,” art. 113 II of the Constitution, 1 month or 10 days in case of urgency.
- 8. “Constitution of Cambodia,” art. 113 II of the Constitution.
- 9. “Constitution of Cambodia,” art. 113 III of the Constitution.
- 10. “Constitution of Cambodia,” art. 93.