THE National Assembly on Wednesday approved a new law governing court proceedings that do not involve lawsuits, a move that drew criticism from observers who described the legislation as unnecessary.
Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana said the new law was intended to improve upon the code of civil procedure adopted in 2007, and that it would assist the courts in resolving civil issues more efficiently.
He went on to describe the law as an example of positive judicial reform.
“I would like ... for procedures to be fair, just and transparent,” he said.
Hy Sophea, secretary of state in the Ministry of Justice, said the draft law was designed to assist in processing civil cases that require a court ruling, but for which there is no disputing party.
He cited as an example divorce rulings for couples who have already agreed to separate.
We already had the civil code. we should not have created another law.
Opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said Wednesday that the assembly should not have devoted time to deliberating the law, saying there were more pressing matters to attend to.
“The government should pay attention to strengthening judicial institutions and following through on promises to donors,” he said.
“We see that the courts are corrupt and do not fulfill their duties because we have not made a law to control them properly.”
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the legal aid NGO Cambodian Defenders Project said the creation of the new law appeared to be a pointless exercise.
“We already had the civil code,” he said.
“We should not have created another law: It is not different from the previous code, and it is not necessary to create a new law if the previous law
has not been used.”
The new law, which has 10 chapters and 56 articles, was passed with a majority of 80 votes, with just seven parliamentarians voting against it, Ang Vong Vathana said.
The National Assembly began debating the draft law on Tuesday. The first five chapters of the law were approved during that session.