Thursday, 02 October 2014

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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Cambodia Foreign Minister UN Speech Touches More on World Issues, Less on Cambodiai
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29 September 2014
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong's speech to the UN’s General Assembly on Monday in New York touches more on world issues and less on Cambodia. Before delivering his speech at UNGA, Hor Namhong told VOA Khmer that Cambodia was now enjoying peace and political stability after the two winning political parties in 2013 election had agreed to work together. His speech comes as Cambodia’s profile on the world stage has expanded in recent years. Cambodia has and improved economy and a growing participation in UN missions around the world. But Hor Namhong’s speech also comes amid deep criticism of Cambodia’s human rights record and a controversial agreement with Australia to help it resettle refuges in exchange for aid money. (VOA Khmer's Pin Sisovann, Washington)

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