Cambodia: again discussion on conscription

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Already in 2006, War Resisters' International reported on plans to introduce conscription in Cambodia, which so far did not materialise (see CO-Update No 24, November 2006). It remains to be seen if the new announcement by a senior Cambodian Defence Ministry official on 1 August 2010 that the ministry is poised to introduce a military conscription soon after the military reservist conscription sub-decree was signed by the king, is more real.

According to the report, Gen. Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Defence Ministry, said that conscription is necessary to prepare the military force for the defence of the country. He said the conscription will start as soon as the sub-decree was signed by King Sihamoni.

He said the military reserve conscription will include recalling of contracted soldiers, professional retired soldiers or those who retired from the military before retiring age. The new conscripts will be required to perform military duties between 3 to 4 months.

Gen. Chhum Socheat said there is no decision of how many reservists will be conscripted or recruited, saying it all depends on the budget approved by the parliament.

The Compulsory Military Service Act states that all male Cambodian citizens between 18 and 30 years of age, without distinction as to religious belief, national origin or social status, must serve in the armed forces. However, until now, compulsory military service did not exist in practice. According to Gen. Chhum Socheat, the ministry will not fully implement the Compulsory Military Service Act yet, saying that the recruitment will be based on a voluntary basis at this stage because the Defence Ministry did not have enough budget yet.

Source: Radio Free Asia: Cambodian Defence Ministry to introduce military conscription soon, 2 August 2010

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