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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government promises end to KR draft law delay

Government promises end to KR draft law delay

PRIME Minister Hun Sen announced on April 25 that the process to approve the stalled

KR tribunal draft law would be back on track ahead of the Consultative Group donors

meeting in Tokyo in June.

The Prime Minister said he expected the Council of Ministers to approve the law for

re-consideration by the National Assembly, Senate and Constitutional Council prior

to his appearance at the June 11-13 Tokyo CG meeting

The KR draft law suffered its most recent setback on February 12, when the Constitutional

Council objected to its Section 3 references to the 1956 penal code, which decrees

the death penalty for crimes of murder, torture and religious persecution. Article

32 of the Cambodian Consitution forbids capital punishment.

The Constitutional Council made the ruling in spite of objections from legal experts

and legislators that the draft law's Article 38 specifically disallows the death

penalty.

Neither Hun Sen nor Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An would clarify the

Council of Jurists two-month delay in deleting the offending passages of Article

3.

On April 24 Sok An said the Council of Jurists would need only to "rewrite a

few words" to alleviate the Constitutional Council's concerns.

"We are waiting for the National Assembly to commence its session, then we will

send [the revised draft law] as soon as possible," Sok An told reporters.

While National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh stated on April 24 that

he had "no reason to delay debate on the KR draft law", on April 26 NA

Deputy Secretary-General Chan Ven confirmed there had been no move to put the item

on the NA's agenda. The NA is scheduled to resume session on May 2.

"I think that it is easy to explain why the KR draft law hasn't been scheduled

for debate...it's because the government hasn't sent us a [revised] draft,"

Ven said.

Youk Chhang, Director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, says the government's

linkage of the draft law's progress to the upcoming CG meeting in Tokyo is not accidental.

According to Chhang, the Cambodian government's willingness to effect progress in

the tribunal progress has in the past been frequently related to its attempts to

positively influence its dealings with the international community.

"I think that the KR tribunal law will be signed into law only when the government

thinks that there is a good opportunity to exchange [the law's approval] with something

from the international community," Chhang predicted.

"But I think that effecting justice for the deaths of a million people shouldn't

be exchanged for political or financial gains...to do so is to demean the victims."

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