The Cambodian government is mulling an amendment to the criminal law to make insults to the King a criminal offence similar to Thailand’s lese majeste law, The Phnom Penh Post Online reported on Thursday.
Interior Minister Sar Kheng held a meeting with top ministry officials on Wednesday to discuss introducing the legal amendment to ban insults to the King and to protect the King, according to a statement on the Interior Ministry’s website.
“Somdech Kralahom Sar Kheng decided to request the government to amend some points in the Criminal Code…In the Criminal Code there is no part that states how long an individual should be sentenced, said Khieu Sopheak, spokesman of the Interior Ministry.
The Constitution only says the King is inviolable, but it does not forbid disparaging him and insulting the King is not specifically outlawed in Criminal Code.
Sopheak said several countries already have such law such as Thailand, Japan and the Netherlands. “We are a monarchy, but there is no such article,” he added.
Despite the absence of the law, former deputy prime minister Lu Lay Sreng is already facing a lawsuit for insulting King Norodom Sihamoni whom he called a “castrated chicken” for failing to intervene in the country’s political situation.
Human Rights Watch’s Asia division Brad Adams took a strong stance against the proposed legal amendment, saying that it is profoundly troubling to bring back the antiquated practice of the medieval past.