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Council of Ministers says UN should not be critical

Council of Ministers says UN should not be critical

Body rejects UN comments on passage of Anticorruption Law.

THE Council of Ministers said Monday that the UN had been wrong to weigh in on the passage of the Kingdom’s Anticorruption Law, arguing that the body had shown a lack of respect for Cambodian sovereignty.

In a statement released by its Press and Quick Reaction Unit, the Council of Ministers said the government had spent years in consultation with the UN and other international organisations to develop the law. Widespread criticisms that the legislation was pushed through the National Assembly too quickly, the Council said, were thus unwarranted.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia, which has been democratically elected through free and fair elections, would like to take this opportunity to remind the ‘UN Country Team’ that there is a time for consultation, but there is also a time for decision,” the Council of Ministers said.

The Council added that the UN and other organisations had no legal basis on which to rest their criticisms of the law, which was passed without amendment by the National Assembly last week in two days of debate.

“No international standards require the core of the national sovereignty to seek the approval from the different organisations and civil societies, either national or international, that failed to enjoy the legitimacy directly from the Cambodian people,” the Council of Ministers said.

UN spokeswoman Margaret Lamb declined to comment.

There is a time for consultation, but there is also a time for decision.

The UN said last week that while it welcomed the passage of anticorruption legislation, it worried that observers and civil society organisations would be denied the chance to offer input and possible amendments.
“The draft Anticorruption Law should undergo a transparent and participatory consultation process to ensure that it is consistent with international standards,” the UN said, noting “with concern” the brief window between the draft law’s release and the opening of debate in the National
Assembly.

The criticisms of the UN position by the Council of Ministers followed those aired last week by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which accused the UN of acting “as if it were the spokesperson of the opposition parties”.

Hang Chhaya, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said the government did deserve credit for seeking external consultation in the years spent developing the law. He contrasted this, however, with the “highly secretive” approach taken since the final incarnation of the Anticorruption Law was drafted.

“We just want a proper dialogue and consultation,” Hang Chhaya said. “It’s constructive, it’s not in any way aimed at destabilising or overthrowing the government.”

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