Discipline Addressed by Draft Law

A draft law drawn up by the Su­preme Council of Magistracy this week establishes disciplinary

ac­tions for misconduct by judges, sources familiar with the draft said Thursday.

Depending on the misconduct, the draft states that judges could be warned, fined, sent to another court, or receive stiffer penalties, sources said.

The draft, which was finished Tuesday, was sent to the Minis­try of Justice for discussion. It will then be sent to the Council of Min­is­ters for approval before be­ing forwarded to Cambodia’s parliament.

Several council members on Thurs­day declined to comment on the draft.

Sources said the proposed law also increases salaries for judges depending on their qualifications and years of service, and establishes a retirement age.

The hierarchy of judges and terms of appointment, such as how long a judge should stay at one court, are also addressed in the draft.

The nine-member Council, which convened last Wednesday for only the third time since the body was created in 1993, is charg­ed with ensuring the independence of the courts and overseeing the conduct of judges.

Several legal experts, including Thomas Hammarberg, the UN hu­man rights envoy to Cambo­dia, have criticized the Council for being ineffective and meeting too few times.

“It’s much too early to say whe­th­er the Council has really done something,” one legal ex­pert said. “I really want to see the outcome of this draft.”

For this session, the Council has met three days, and its fourth meeting was postponed to next Wednesday.

Experts said one of the most important aspects of the draft is disciplinary action for judges, especially since Cambodian courts have been labeled as having a culture of impunity and judges have been accused for taking bribes. (Additional reporting by Im Sophea)

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