The Ministry of Justice has established a working group to consult with relevant ministries and state institutions on the drafting of new laws and regulations. Upon request, the group will meet with them to review and collect input on the provisions of new draft legislation.

The new group was established in a document signed by justice minister Koeut Rith on February 26.

It will be chaired by ministry secretary of state Keng Somarith, who will oversee three vice-chairs, 18 members and five secretaries.

The document outlined the roles and responsibilities of the working group. It will conduct meetings with the relevant ministries and institutions to review the provisions of new draft legislation, and then prepare the ministry’s response to the review.

“This working group is responsible for reviewing, advising and revising the provisions of new draft laws – and other legal documents, as assigned by the justice minister – in order to ensure consistency and compliance with existing laws,” it said.

It will be responsible for preparing a clear work plan for its review and response tasks. In addition, it will be called upon to research and draft guidelines for new legislation.

The budget for its operations will be drawn from the budget of the ministry’s Department of Criminal Affairs.

Am Sam Ath, operations director at rights group LICADHO, expressed hope that the new working group will contribute to the clear oversight of new legal provisions, while expediting the review of various current draft laws.

“It has a part to play in expediting laws, but more importantly, it will gather input from relevant stakeholders. This is essential to ensure a law avoids any controversy when it is put into practice,” he said.

Sam Ath explained that reviewing and collecting inputs on the provisions of laws is crucial because it means the punishments for perpetrators who are prosecuted are more likely to be in proportion to the acts committed.