CCHR Slams Approval of Judicial Reform Laws

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) issued a statement Sunday condemning last week’s approval by the Council of Ministers of three long-awaited laws on judicial reform, citing a lack of proper public consultation on the laws.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday presided over a meeting of the Council of Ministers that approved the three new laws on the functioning of the courts, the country’s judicial oversight body and the role of judges and prosecutors.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said on Friday that the three laws would be presented to the National Assembly for approval today or on Tuesday. The CCHR statement says that no such move should be made until there is an agreement for the opposition CNRP to end its boycott of its 55 National Assembly seats.

Failing that, the statement says, the full laws should be immediately released.

“It is crucial that the [National Assembly] makes the draft legislation public to allow for relevant stakeholders including civil society, legal professionals and the general public to give feedback and make comments,” the statement says.

Mr. Siphan was critical on Sunday of CCHR’s claim that the government was pushing through the three laws with little consultation outside the ruling CPP.

“Why is this human rights [organization] condemning the government?” he said of CCHR, which was founded by Kem Sokha, who is now the vice president of the CNRP.

“It’s only a small NGO,” Mr. Siphan said. “The government is legitimate.”

“We do what the law allows us to do, and we have discussed [the three new laws] with international legal groups,” he added, declining to identify the groups.

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