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Groups Seek Audience With Senate Over Judicial Reform Drafts

  • Suy Heimkhemra
  • VOA Khmer

Cambodia national assembly

Cambodia national assembly

Human rights groups and other members of civil society on Tuesday submitted a letter to Senate President Chea Sim, requesting a meeting over their concerns for three draft judicial reform laws passed last month in the National Assembly.

The three drafts must be approved by the Senate before they can be enacted as law, but critics say they fall short of international standards and will not allay widespread concerns about Cambodia’s judicial system.

“Civil society has no intention of interfering in the government’s internal affairs,” Soeung Saroeun, head of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, told a conference in Phnom Penh Tuesday. “We wish to offer recommendations and raise our concerns only. If the law is passed with no corrections, the court’s independence will be affected.”

Critics say the draft laws put too much power in the hands of the Justice Ministry, which is under the executive branch.

“The minister is a politician,” said Sok Sam Oeun, head of the Cambodian Defenders Project. “Constitutional law states the courts must be independent.”

A Senate official said late Tuesday no letter from civic organizations has yet been received.