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All Three Judicial Reform Laws Now Passed by Assembly

Ruling party lawmakers on Friday passed two more judicial reform laws with little debate.

All three laws must now be signed by King Norodom Sihamoni before they are promulgated.

Critics say the law, passed without opposition lawmakers in the Assembly, will put more power in the hands of the executive branch and will do little to allay widespread mistrust of the courts.

The laws outline the organization of the courts, the roles of judges and prosecutors and the functions of the Supreme Court and an oversight body called the Supreme Council of Magistracy.

Lawmakers for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party have spent most of this week discussing the laws, but with very little critical debate. Many dismissed criticism that too much power was being transferred to the Ministry of Justice, which is an executive branch agency in the prime minister’s cabinet.

However, CPP lawmaker Loy Sophat did question Justice Minister Ang Vong Vattana, asking whether he would “ensure” equal justice to all Cambodians.

The minister responded by saying it was the job of the Supreme Council to monitor judges, and the ministry would not interfere.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said the laws were passed unconstitutionally and will be amended “when our party gets enough voice in the Assembly.”