Cambodia

Judicial Inspectorate Not Expected To Be Effective

Supporters say it will speed up judicial reform, but opponents say it won’t serve the public.

Chea Sim, center, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, Heng Samring, rear left, the party honorary president, Hun Sen, foreground, the party's vice president and the prime minister of the Cambodian government.Chea Sim, center, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, Heng Samring, rear left, the party honorary president, Hun Sen, foreground, the party's vice president and the prime minister of the Cambodian government.
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Chea Sim, center, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, Heng Samring, rear left, the party honorary president, Hun Sen, foreground, the party's vice president and the prime minister of the Cambodian government.
Chea Sim, center, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, Heng Samring, rear left, the party honorary president, Hun Sen, foreground, the party's vice president and the prime minister of the Cambodian government.
Sok KhemaraVOA Khmer
WASHINGTON DC - Prime Minister Hun Sen has approved a new inspectorate office for the judicial system that critics say is unnecessary and potentially harmful.

The 16-member agency, called the Inspection Office of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, was initiated by Supreme Court chief Dith Munthy and Cabinet Minister Sok An, according to government officials and media reports.

It would increase the influence of Sok An, who is also a Deputy Prime Minister and already the co-chairman of the Council for Legal and Judicial Reform, over the Supreme Council of Magistracy, which is an independent oversight body.

Analysts say the new office does not improve government oversight, is lacking laws under which it can work and is not independent from the executive branch of the government. This leaves it open to manipulation, while the courts themselves remain politically biased and susceptible to bribery.

“It affects the independence principle of the court and the division of the power stipulated in the constitution,” independent analyst Lao Monghay told VOA Khmer. The new agency allows for arbitrary punishments of judicial officials, he said, rather than set out statutes for the punishment of corrupt judges, prosecutors and others.

Supporters say it will speed up judicial reform. But opponents say it won’t serve the public.

Son Chhay, opposition lawmaker for the Sam Rainsy Party, said the new body has the power to serve some members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party without checks or balances.

“And this will cause more serious corruption,” he said. The government would do better to strengthen the Supreme Council of Magistracy, which is constitutionally charged with overseeing the judicial branch of government, he said.

Justice Ministry officials could not be reached for comment.

However, Suy Mongleang, secretary-general of the Council for Legal and Judicial Reform, said the institution was created to make it easier to take action against corruption and “to give the court a [good] reputation.” The council will handle investigation and complaints and resolve problems at court, he said.

Suon Bunsak, chief secretary for the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, welcomed government initiatives to reform the judiciary. But he too said the Supreme Council of Magistracy should be the entity to police the judicial system.
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Yearlong Political Deadlock Endsi
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22 July 2014
Cambodia’s political deadlock has ended. For nearly a year, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has refused to join the government, calling for electoral reforms in a system it says was deeply flawed. Following nearly five hours of meetings between top opposition officials and Prime Minister Hun Sen, that deadlock has ended. The two sides finally reached agreement on a formula for selecting the National Election Committee, which the Rescue Party has said was biased toward the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Hun Sen and Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy emerged from talks Tuesday smiling and shaking hands. “Victory,” Hun Sen told reporters after the meeting. “You can all applaud.” (Heng Reaksmey, Phnom Penh)

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