PHNOM PENH —
CPP lawmakers on Wednesday began debating the first of three judicial reform laws, ignoring an opposition boycott of the National Assembly and calls from outside legal experts for outside review of drafts they say are substandard.
Critics say the draft laws will not improve the widely mistrusted judicial system, but instead moves too much power over courts and judges into the hands of the executive branch.
The discussion took place without members of the opposition, who have boycotted the Assembly since 2013 elections they say were marred by fraud.
Three CPP lawmakers took about an hour at the Assembly on Wednesday to express their support for the continuing debate on the law.
CPP lawmaker Chheang Von told the Assembly that members of civil society organizations were “trying to interrupt our work” with their criticism of the law.
Chak Sopheap, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, rejected those claims.
Outside organizations have spent a lot of time analyzing the laws and providing feedback for lawmakers, he said. “The question is whether the lawmakers have looked at our analysis.”
Wednesday’s debate also came despite a call from the UN’s office of human rights in Cambodia for further discussion with outside experts.
Brusha Rahman, a spokesman for the office in Phnom Penh, said Wednesday it is “crucial” that the three draft laws comply with international standards of judicial independence. “The adoption of these laws is a unique opportunity to lay down solid legal foundations for the independency and integrity of the judicial system.