Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Judicial assistants take flak

Judicial assistants take flak

Judicial assistants take flak

A NEW sub-decree appointing assistants to the country’s top judicial body has been criticised by opposition members and civil society groups who say it represents another instance of “interference” in the judicial system.

The sub-decree, issued on September 23, orders the appointment of 11 officials as assistants to the disciplinary panel of the Supreme Council of the Magistracy (SCM), the body constitutionally charged with reviewing the Kingdom’s court system.

Suy Mongleang, secretary general of the General Secretariat for Legal and Judicial Reform in the Council of Ministers, said the new appointees would help fill a shortfall of staff on the panel.

“The president of the disciplinary panel asked us to help because [it] does not have human resources and material,” he said. According to the sub-decree, the new appointees will be under the authority of the president and prosecutor general of the Supreme Court.

However, government critics said that in appointing members of the Cambodian People’s Party in line with the new subdecree, the government was breaching the country’s constitutional separation of powers.

“If there is any interference into the judiciary, it is an abuse of democratic principles,” said Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann.

“If we want the judiciary system to be independent, we should not allow party members to have the position of judges or to be the members of judicial bodies.”

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodia Defenders Project, said there was no problem if the government was creating the body to aid in the investigations of the panel, but that any direct involvement in disciplinary decisions would be illegal.

Others said the new body – whatever its merits – should have been created through the legislature rather than by subdecree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “If we want to reform the court system, we should have a law from the [National] Assembly,” said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights. “It is not a decision for the prime minister.”

Suy Mongleang rejected the criticisms, saying the new body would be unable to independently punish judges.

“We are just helping the courts’ administration, relating to material and human resources. In countries all over the world, the government helps to do this,” he said.

The criticisms follow similar concerns about a 26-member panel formed by Hun Sen earlier this month, with a mandate to weed out “irregularities” in criminal cases that come before the country’s courts.

MOST VIEWED

  • US to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • PM's Bodyguard commander hits back at US

    The commander of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit (BGU) Hing Bun Heang on Sunday dismissed a short video clip that went viral on social media in which he says he is preparing for a war with the United States over its aggressiveness towards

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth