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Integration for ASEAN legal eagles discussed


Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana speaks yesterday during a judicial workshop in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

More than 70 judges and judicial officials from ASEAN member states attended a US-supported ASEAN workshop in Phnom Penh yesterday to discuss legal and judicial cooperation, the protection of investors and the state of the rule of law in the region.

The ASEAN Secretariat and the Cambodian Ministry of Justice arranged the judicial program – with help from the US-funded ASEAN-US Technical Assistance and Training Facility – hoping to build on last year’s ASEAN Senior Law Officials’ Meeting, which recognised the need for co-operation among practitioners of law in ASEAN member states.

“As ASEAN moves toward integration, we will see an exponential increase in cross-border movement of people, goods, and ideas,” said Cambodian Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana.

“With this closer connectivity, we will discover a new set of cross-border legal challenges and require greater judicial co-operation,” US Ambassador to ASEAN David Carden said all of the body’s collective goals – especially economic ones – will require a strong commitment to the rule of law by member states.

“I don’t think there is a more important issue than the rule of law and corruption elimination, in a way,” Carden told reporters, adding that investors need to be confident in a justice system’s fairness and lack of corruption.

“If investment comes from inside or outside of ASEAN, Cambodia has to protect the investors.”

Carden told reporters that the US welcomed ASEAN’s deliberations on the South China Sea, saying the world’s “peace and prosperity will be enhanced by the Code of Conduct”.

Attendees discussed a number of judicial hurdles the proposed ASEAN Economic Community may face, including prosecuting transnational crime, implementing investment laws and nation-level adherence to international treaties.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at



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