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Court System Flaws a 'Legacy' of Communism, Analyst Says

Lao Monghay is an independent analyst in Cambodia.
Lao Monghay is an independent analyst in Cambodia.
WASHINGTON DC - Cambodia's "communist legacy" has prevented it from improving its judiciary, independent analyst Lao Monghay told "Hello VOA" on Thursday.

"In the communist system, the court is under the executive branch," he said. "There are not three separate powers, like today."

Many of Cambodia's government officials came up under communist systems, which has meant the courts are not sufficiently independent, he said. And the country still lacks laws that would police the courts.

The courts have come under heavy criticism in recent weeks, ruling on Monday to jail Beehive Radio operator Mam Sonando for 20 years, while at the same time dropping a case to find the killer of environmental activist Chut Wutty.

The courts continually push cases against rights workers, activists and journalists under new laws that criminalize defamation.

Lao Monghay said he had submitted a petition to King Norodom Sihamoni, who ostensibly helps oversee the courts as a member of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, asking for his help in making the courts more impartial. He has asked the same of Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly President Heng Samrin, he said Thursday.

The government is currently drafting a law that would regulate court administration, but that law has been long in the making.

Suy Mongleang, secretary-general for the Council for Legal and Judicial Reform, said the government has done much to reform the courts, but that a fix will take time, thanks to complete destruction of the system by the Khmer Rouge.

Sok Khemara hosts 'Hello VOA' 04 October, 2012 from Washington DC.
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