Cambodia: IBAHRI expresses deep concern over controversial judicial reform laws

Today the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) expresses deep concern over controversial judicial reforms which could provide an excessive transfer of power from the judiciary to the executive in the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia.

To discuss the draft laws in the context of domestic law provisions, and international standards on judicial independence, the IBAHRI is hosting a panel event today – from 10h00 to 11h30 at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh – at which the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, will provide expert opinion.

The three draft laws of concern are: the Law on the Organisation and Functioning of the Supreme Council of Magistracy; the Law on the Status of Judges and Prosecutors of the Kingdom of Cambodia and lastly; the Law on the Organization of the Courts – which will see the Minister of Justice assume wide-reaching powers over the judiciary and prosecution services.

IBAHRI Co-Chair Sternford Moyo commented, ‘The Royal Kingdom of Cambodia’s judiciary’s ability to exercise its duties free from Executive influence is a right protected under Article 128 of the Cambodian Constitution and further enshrined in Article 14(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; in Principles 1 to 7 of the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary; in the Singhvi Declaration on the Independence of Justice; and in the Beijing Statement of Principles. The proposed legislative changes will undermine all of these legal instruments and the negative impact on the independence of the judiciary is of deep concern to the IBAHRI.’ He added, ‘The IBAHRI recommends that the Cambodian Parliament assumes the vital role of encouraging broad public consultation on the legislation to ensure the important and basic principles of judicial independence, neutrality and the separation of powers are upheld in Cambodia.’

The discussion, Cambodia’s Draft Judicial Laws, is taking place today, Tuesday 15 July 2014, from 10h00 – 11h30, in Salon I, Raffles Hotel Le Royal, 92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh, Sangkat Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Participating alongside Ms Knaul, is Piseth Duch, Trial Monitoring Coordinator at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. IBAHRI Programme Lawyer Nadia Hardman will moderate the discussion.

Click here for free registration to attend the IBAHRI discussion Cambodia’s Draft Judicial Laws.

Notes to the Editor

  1. The three draft laws passed through the Cambodian National Assembly in May 2014, through the Senate in June 2014, and through the Constitutional Council in July 2014.
  2. The draft laws are currently in the final stages of review and are due to be signed into law by His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni imminently.
  3. The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, US, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court Programme (IBA ICC) is managed from an office in The Hague.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

For further information please contact:

Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association

4th Floor, 10 St Bride Street,
London EC4A 4AD

Mobile: +44 (0)7940 731 915
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Nadia Hardman
Programme Lawyer
International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute

Tel: +44(0)7738 418 711