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New laws on legal system in works: gov’t

New laws on legal system in works: gov’t

The Ministry of Justice is drafting three laws pertaining to the legal system, including one that officials claim will lead to fewer land disputes, though a Cambodian human rights NGO yesterday said in order for the law to have an impact, it needs to be implemented without “discrimination”.

The working group drafting the laws, headed by Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, met for the first time on Thursday, said ministry spokesman Chin Malin. The new laws include a law on the status of public notaries, a law on the status of clerks and a law on the status of bailiffs.

Officials plan to finish the drafts by the end of this year. “We are creating these laws to ensure our justice system is fair, to have clear boundaries and responsibilities,” Malin said.

For example, in other countries, when people sell or transfer land, they go to a public notary. But the Kingdom doesn’t have such a system in place, which makes the buying or selling of land unsafe, Malin said.

By implementing such law, “land disputes could be reduced”, he added.

Licadho president Pung Chhiv Kek said a lack of regulation defining the role of a “public notary – which is still pretty much unknown by the Cambodian public – is like no traffic laws when you are driving a car”.

Still, she said that doesn’t mean that all land transactions are “flawed or illegal” under the current system.

But even so, the current gap in the law “gives room for all kinds of abuses by bureaucrats and some corrupt civil servants, and of course, frustrations and conflicts”, she wrote in an email. “Will the law be good? That needs to be seen.”

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