[Sent to the Phnom Penh Post and Khmer Times on May 31, 2016. Not Published.]
Since NGOs, the CNRP and other critics of the government regularly recommend that Cambodia follow the “best practice” of Western governments, it might be of interest to consider how that practice relates to the current carry-on about parliamentary immunity for Kem Sokha.
For example, the CNRP asserts that Sokha has immunity from questioning or charging in regard to allegations of procuring a prostitute. Would a parliamentarian in the United States have such a right? No.
Senators and members of the House of Representatives have immunity only for speech or actions connected with their role as legislators. (Whatever one may think of some US politicians, none of them are required to procure prostitutes or to engage in prostitution.)
Nor are US legislators immune from being sued in civil proceedings for things they say or do outside the Congress. If Cambodia followed US rules, Sokha could not refuse to answer the lawsuit by Thy Sovantha charging him with slander, because the alleged defamation did not occur in the National Assembly.
Will our local advocates of Washington-knows-best therefore urge Kem Sokha to answer the two court summonses?