PHNOM PENH —
The National Assembly has received three draft laws on judicial reform that were approved by the Council of Ministers earlier this month.
Cheam Yiep, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, told VOA Khmer that the Assembly’s permanent committee is set to discuss the drafts, despite an ongoing boycott of the legislature by opposition lawmakers-elect.
The discussion will conclude in two weeks, he said, when officials from the Ministry of Justice will be called in for questioning. Following that will be a full debate of the laws.
Critics say the long-awaited drafts do not go far enough to reform the judicial system, widely viewed here as corrupt and politically biased.
Outside legal experts say they are prepared to read the drafts and give comments to the National Assembly for their improvement, if requested.
“In making these laws, we must be cautious,” Sok Samoeun, head of the Cambodian Defenders Project, told VOA Khmer. “They remain for hundreds of years. And although there will be reforms in 10 or 20 years, there will be a flashback about society today, this year, and in those years there will be questions about this justice system and who made this.”
Sok Samoeun told “Hello VOA” on Thursday that the king of Cambodia should retain oversight of the courts, as head of the Supreme Council of Magistracy.
The current drafts put executive power in the hands of five out of nine members of the council.
“That means it can be, in my point view, opposite of the principle of the division of powers that is stipulated in the constitution,” he said.