Constitution of Cambodia

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The current constitution of Cambodia has been adopted a policy of liberal democracy and pluralism since after the agreement on the comprehensive settlement of the Cambodian conflict and the national elections of the people’s representatives to the National State Assembly supported by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). Since then, Cambodia became a constitutional monarchy. The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country.

History of Cambodian Constitution

The Constitution of 1953 - 1975

In the article 1 of the Constitution (1953-1970) Cambodia was recognised as a monarchy, and all powers were derived from the king (Article 21). The legislative, executive and judicial powers were exercised in the name of the king (Articles 22, 23 and 24). The National Assembly alone should pass the laws. It might not delegate this right (Article 65). The judicial organisation should be regulated by a special law (Article 113). A high council of judiciary should ensure the discipline and independence of judges in accordance with the law. This council should be presided over by the law (Article 114).

The Constitution of 1970 - 1975

Cambodia was recognised as an independent democratic and social republic. Its motto was "liberty, equality, fraternity and social republic." The Constitution affirmed the principle of the government of the people, by the people and for the people. All powers should be derived from the people (Article 3). No one should be both a member of Parliament and a member of any other institution of the republic established by the Constitution except the High Court of Justice (Article 50). The Parliament should make the laws (Article 64). Justice should be administered in the name of the people according to a procedure fixed by the law (Article 80). The judicial branch should be independent. It should be the guerdon of impartiality. It should protect the rights and freedoms of the citizens. It should be vested in the Supreme Court and lower courts (Article 81). The Supreme National Council should ensure the independence and discipline of the branch (Article 91).

The Constitution of 1976 - 1978

The State of Kampuchea was an independent, unified, peaceful, neutral, non-aligned, sovereign and democratic State enjoying territorial integrity. The State of Kampuchea was a State of the people, workers, peasants and all other Kampuchea labourers (Article 1). The people’s representatives assembly is responsible for legislation and defining the various domestic and foreign policies of the Democratic Kampuchea (Article 7). The administration (executive) was a body responsible for executing the law, the political line and all activities inside and outside the country (Article 8). Justice was administered by people’s courts, representing and defending people’s justice, as well as defending the democratic rights. The justices should be chosen and appointed by the National Assembly (Article 9).

The Constitutions of 1979 - 1993

The National Assembly was the supreme organ of State power and the sole legislative organ (Article 45). The government was responsible to the National Assembly and reported its work to the National Assembly (Article 64). The objectives of judgement and application were to protect the power of the people and democratic legality, to preserve public security and social order, to protect public property and the rights, freedoms, life and legal interests of citizens (Article 79).

The Constitution of September 1993

The National Assembly (Articles 76-103), the Royal Government (Articles 99-108), the judiciary (Articles 109-116) - the legislative, executive and judicial rights - shall be separate (Article 51).

The paragraph 4 of article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia states: "The legislative, executive and judicial powers shall be separate." But during the first mandate, those three branches were not separated and the supreme power was in the hand of the ruling party. Several institutions stated in the Constitution were not established until close to the elections of 1998. Besides, Cambodia was close to have a new civil war after the coup in July 1997.