April 2014 Human Rights Spotlight: A Need for an Open and Transparent Legislation and Judiciary Reform in Cambodia
Cambodians are observing the in-depth reform promised by the ruling government—formed according to election result that has been contested by the opposition party who has now still boycotted the national assembly since September 2013 when the first session convened.
While it would be too early to assess the in-depth reform agenda here; however, it is not difficult to track down key concerning element and voice out our concern at early stage to ensure the government could now mirror itself to the promise.
Legislation and its process in spotlight: A number of new pending laws include the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO), the Law on the Supreme Council of the Magistracy, the Law on the Status of Judges and Prosecutors, the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Courts, the Law on Trade Unions, and the Cybercrime Law—all of these given the exception to the LANGO has been so far secret and three laws concerning to the judiciary reform has already received approval from the Council of Minister, right after the Khmer New Year holiday, without prior publication and open and broad consultations although civil society has repeatedly requested so. The parliamentarian member from the ruling party confirmed the three draft laws related to the judiciary reform has now arrived at the National Assembly and this shall be discussed and to be adopted in coming June.
All the mentioned law will highly impact human rights. With the purpose of the laws to promote and protect the Cambodian people interest, it becomes more necessary that the draft laws shall be made public so that relevant stakeholders and concerning civil society could offer input to reflect that purpose. By designing in such secretive manners, it only adds up to the public curiosity and question on the real intention of the government over the laws.
Amid current political deadlock and the last election result that shows the decline in number of people support, the ruling government would be able to restore people trust by implementing what it has promised within its political platforms and the rectangular strategy-phase III that highlight the necessity in “strengthening governance and capacity of public institutions in order to improve the efficiency of public service delivery” via “continuing legal and judicial reforms to ensure social justice and promote rights of people along with INTEGRITY, TRANSPARENCY, and ACCOUNTABILITY of civil service.” The government has also voiced its commitment to mirror themselves by listening to civil society more.
“We have many mirrors to use if we want to use them and we learn to accept the reality, including a platform for public consultation with the people that must be done regularly to listen to people’s opinion,” said Prime Minister Hun Sen during his talk on reform promise.
For the opposition party, the current political deadlock and its boycott to national assembly cannot be an excuse for them to stay silent on the issue neither. They has the obligation in the name of a political party who gain a large number of votes, meaning people are in trust with them to ensure their role in check and balance, to ensure a proper development of legislation and judiciary reform and other issues in the country—the role that more beyond their focus on political negotiation.