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UN Envoy Critical of Judicial Reform Laws

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, shakes hands with Surya Subedi, right, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, before their meeting at Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, file photo.
Ruling party lawmakers are dismissing criticism by the UN’s special envoy for human rights over their passage of three judicial reform laws.

The three laws, passed without opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly, have been rounding criticized for failing to meet international standards and for moving too much authority to the executive branch’s Justice Ministry.

Surya Subedi, the UN’s special envoy for Cambodian human rights, said in a statement Tuesday the lawmakers failed to include enough outside review prior to passing all three laws.

The quick passage of the laws should not come at the cost of transparency, accountability and participation, he said. Subedi also echoed concerns that the independence of the judiciary could be hampered by executive branch oversight.

“We can’t accept his view,” Cheam Yiep, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said Wednesday. “We want him to study Cambodian laws.”

The three laws underwent thorough discussion, he added. “Some people working for civil society sometimes don’t know the law.”

The three draft laws now have 30 days to be passed by the Senate before they go to the king to be signed into law.