Cambodia will host the 11th Meeting of the Cambodia-EU Joint Committee on November 25-27 and November 30 via video link, according to Ministry of Justice secretary of state Chin Malin.
Malin told The Post on November 15 that the meeting is held every other year and is alternately hosted. In 2018, Cambodia attended the 10th meeting in Brussels, Belgium, which was hosted by the EU. This year, the Kingdom is set to host the meeting in Phnom Penh.
“The meeting will discuss all aspects of cooperation between the Cambodian government and the EU, evaluating our past cooperation in all areas and determining what we’ll need to do together down the line,” he said.
On November 13, Malin led a working group to meet EU ambassador to Cambodia Carmen Moreno via video link to work out the organisational details of the meeting.
The two sides reviewed their past judicial cooperation and listed a number of issues and challenges to address at the end-of-the-month meeting.
Malin said: “The EU still wants to work with Cambodia and wants to continue and strengthen cooperation in all areas. The Everything But Arms [EBA] trade scheme is old news, it’s in the past, an old political event, already relegated to the shadows.
“What we need to do now is discuss what we can do together to move forward for the benefit of the EU and the Cambodian people as a whole.
“As we turn the page to a new era, we must work out what we, Cambodia and the EU, can do together for the benefit of the whole Cambodian nation, the EU and each of its member countries.”
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said Cambodia had worked with a lot of countries in the field of justice since the 1993 Constitution came into force, but pointed out that its judicial independence and human rights record leave much to be desired.
“Sanctions on Cambodia in the form of EBA [withdrawal] are not misaligned with the EU’s policy of supporting its development, because it was Cambodia’s decision not to respect the human-rights conditions of the duty-free regime.
“Providing judicial cooperation with Cambodia is also within the framework of the policy,” he said.
According to the Constitution, the judiciary is independent and has the primary duty of protecting the rights and freedoms of Cambodians. The King ensures that Cambodians’ rights and freedoms are protected and guarantees judicial independence.
But Mong Hay was of the view that judicial independence had been compromised by political control and ministerial interference.
On the other hand, he said successful Cambodian-EU justice cooperation could help the Kingdom meet its human rights obligations and convince the bloc to fully restore EBA preferential access to its market.