Government Tells UN Not To Interfere in Anticorruption Law

The government has blasted the UN country team in Cambodia for “flagrantly interfering” in the country’s internal affairs after the UN ex­pressed concern that the anticorruption draft law was brought to de­bate too swiftly.

In a Wednesday statement, the UN “noted with concern” that the debate on the anticorruption draft law, which has been more than 15 years in the making, was scheduled for only a few days after it was disseminated to lawmakers. The law breezed through the National Assembly on Thursday with no al­terations after just a day and a half of debate.

The UN country team—which refers to the heads of all UN agencies working in Cambodia, and is not a single entity—said in the statement that more time was needed for “a transparent and parti­cipatory consultation process” with donors and civil society.

But in a scathing statement is­sued Friday, the Ministry of For­eign Affairs rejected the UN’s call for a longer deliberation period, saying the government would “not accept lessons given by a few individuals comprising this Team.”

“Through the media, the ‘UN Country Team’ commented on the adoption process of the Cambodian Anti-Corruption Law as though it were lecturing the Royal Govern­ment of Cambodia on what to do about the law,” the statement read.

“This so-called “UN Country Team” should not act out of its man­date, in flagrantly interfering in the internal affairs of a UN member state,” the Foreign Ministry statement continued.

“Furthermore, it should refrain from acting as if it were the spokes­person of the opposition parties.”

Opposition lawmakers and civil society leaders have also expressed deep frustration with the swiftness with which the anticorruption law was debated and passed by the CPP-majority Assembly.

On Friday, the Coalition of Cam­bodian Civil Society Organizations —a group of more than 200 local NGOs—issued a joint statement condemning the brevity of the de­bate and drawing attention to what it said are key flaws in the long-awaited legislation.

The coalition said there had been “insufficient time for any significant public involvement and comment” and “inadequate public consultation with respect to the new draft [law].”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Friday the new law would be “substantial enough to encourage people to walk away from corruption.”

“This is a law for the people, not a law for the people’s enemies,” he said.

Mr Siphan went on to suggest that the UN had been feeling “pan­ic and overreaction” when it made its statement on Wednesday.

“I think the UN felt like panic on that one—they just looked through the cover only, but if they took the time to sit down and listen to all the debating in the National Assembly, they would feel great, they would feel encouraged that the government would implement that law, and that at least we do have that law,” he added.

Margaret Lamb, spokeswoman for the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator, declined to comment on the Foreign Ministry’s statement when contacted on Friday.



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