Cambodia: delay debate on judiciary draft laws
A joint statement from civil society groups, including ICJ, calling on Cambodia’s National Assembly to delay debate on the three draft laws related to the judiciary.
Phnom Penh – May 16 — We, the undersigned civil society organizations, labour unions, the International Commission of Jurists and Human Rights Watch, call on the National Assembly (“NA”) to delay the debate on the three draft laws related to judiciary, namely the Law on the Organization of the Courts, the Law on Organization and Functioning of the Supreme Council of the Magistracy, and the Law on the Statute of Judges and Prosecutors, which have been placed on the agenda of the plenary session of the NA scheduled for 20 May 2014, and which have not yet been publicly released for public consultation with civil society and relevant stakeholders.
According to Article 35 and Article 49 of the Constitution of Kingdom of Cambodia (the “Constitution”), Khmer citizens have the right to participate actively in the political life of the nation and have a duty to take part in national reconstruction.
After reviewing unofficial copies of the three draft laws, we have found that provisions of the draft laws jeopardize the independence of the judiciary, which is guaranteed under Article 128 of the Constitution and under international law and standards including Article 14(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, United Nations Basic Principles on Independence of Judiciary, Singhvi Declaration and Beijing Statement of Principles.
The draft Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Supreme Council of the Magistracy provides excessive power to the Minister of Justice to control and lead the decision-making process of the Supreme Council of the Magistracy. The Law on the Organization of the Courts empowers the Minister of Justice to govern and control and manage the budgets of all tribunals.
The Law on the Statute of Judges and Prosecutors empowers the Minister of Justice to advance and promote judges and prosecutors as well as placing judges and prosecutors under the central administration of the Ministry of Justice.
These issues, among others concerns, undermine the independence of the courts and the impartiality of judges and prosecutors. As such, these three draft laws cannot guarantee the separation of power between legislative, executive and judicial branches in accordance with Article 51 of the Constitution. The Supreme Council of the Magistracy is crucial to the separation of powers. It must remain independent so that it can fulfill its constitutional function to assist the King in ensuring the independence of judicial power (Article 132 of the Constitution).
The above-mentioned concerns and other defective provisions provided in the three draft laws could be resolved through a broad and public consultation with civil society and concerned stakeholders in order to obtain comments and recommendations.
We, the undersigned, therefore call on the NA to delay the debate of the three draft laws and allow for broad and public consultation for prior comments and recommendations.
Suon Bunsak, CHRAC Chief of Secretariat, via telephone at +855 (0) 92 344 357 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Duch Piseth, CCHR Trial Monitoring Project Coordinator, via telephone at +855 (0) 12 71 23 71 or e-mail at email@example.com.
Kingsley Abbott, ICJ International Legal Adviser, via telephone at +66 (0) 94 470 1345 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Joint-Statement is supported and undersigned by the local and international civil society organizations as follows:
- Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC)
- Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC)
- International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
- Human Rights Watch (HRW)
- Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
- Federation Union of Solidarity (FUS)
- Equitable Cambodia (EC)
- International Bridge to Justice (IBJ)
- Community Legal Education Center (CLEC)
- Indigenous Community Support Organisation (ICSO)
- Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
- Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP)
- Center for Social Development (CSD)
- Cambodian Women in Crisis Center (CWCC)
- Khmer Institute of Democracy (KID)
- Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM Cambodia)
- Cambodian Center for Protection of Children’s Rights (CCPCR)
- Cambodian Health and Human Rights Alliance (CHHRA)
- Cham Khmer Islam Human Rights and Development Association (CKIMHRDA)
- Mission of Generous Cambodian Alliance (GENEROUS)
- Human Rights Organization for Transparency and Peace (HROTP)
- Indradevi Association (IDA)
- Khmer Institute for National Development (KIND)
- Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organization (KKKHRO)
- Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights and Development Association (KKKHRDA)
- Khmer Youth Association (KSA)
- Khmer Youth Association (KYA)
- Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC)
- People’s Center for Development and Peace (PDP)
- Protection of Juvenile Justice (PJJ)