Update: The bill passed the Senate on March 19, and goes to the King for signature before becoming law.

The Anti-Corruption Law is the hot topic of debate these days, as anyone who has opened a newspaper knows. After various drafts over the past 15 years, last Friday the National Assembly passed the bill, some say with too little debate. The draft now goes to the Senate for debate, and then to the King to sign before becoming law. The draft is available here in Khmer and English. This law doesn’t actually define or prohibit corruption – that was done in the new Criminal Code, passed late last year, but not fully implemented until November 2010.

What it does is set up two anti-corruption agencies – the National Council Against Corruption and the Anti-Corruption Unit appointed by the Prime Minister. Why two? Well, the law spells out different functions for each – the Council is more of an oversight body, and the Unit implements and investigates cases. But the list of their respective duties seems to overlap to a fair degree, so it remains to be seen how it plays out in practice. Two enforcement agencies is not necessarily a bad thing, inter-agency competition works well in antitrust enforcement in the US, and conceivably one body can keep the other in check.

Cambodia has been criticized for corruption, and hopefully this law will mark a turning point.

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