Wat Phnom, 10 December 2007
by Attorney SOK Sam Oeun
Executive Director of CDP
Today is a great day which the people around the world celebrating the Declaration of Human Rights. Today, we congratulate for our rights respected and promoted by the state, but we also must reevaluate and find out what rights have not been protected or violated by the state. Even though, in some cases, the state protected our rights but is it efficiently enough? Is it used equally for everybody? Is there any discrimination? Is it used only for the poor, vulnerable or opposition people, and used to protect only a small group of people who are powerful or rich?
Today, I would like to raise a number of issues to appeal to all politicians, government officials, human rights activists and dearest patriots to consider. The protection and promotion of human rights cannot be used only for some special case and ignored for poor and vulnerable people. Any persons who are present in Cambodia territory shall be protected equally. They must have a good mechanism to protect and promote human rights. In human rights mechanism, we need an independent judiciary, competent judges and fair process to protect the rights of all stake holders. Secondly, we need competent, professional and neutral law-enforcement officers. They must be used forces to defeat the ones who have different view form the leader’s view. Thirdly, we need an Independent National Human Right Commission which is separated from the three branches of the state.
All three mentioned institutions are seriously cared by the government and stated in the rectangular strategy of the government of Cambodia. However, they are in very slow process. We need they will go quickly. Relating to judicial reform, there are two drafts of law which the government must finish them very soon. They are law on Structures and Organization of the Supreme Council of Magistracy and law on Statutes of Magistrates. In order to strengthen the Supreme Council of Magistracy, the King must have strong power enough to protect the independence of judiciary. The Supreme Council of Magistracy must have its own General Secretariat to assist the council. Each individual judge must be non-partisan and must not assist any political parties for election campaign and cannot donate financially to any political parties.
For police reform, Ministry of Interior tried very hard in last couple years in training police and is drafting a Police Code. The same as judges, law-enforcement officers must be non-partisan. They must be changed from Forces to providing services, from watch dogs to legal counsel for the people, etc…
Another important institution of the Human Rights mechanism is the National Human Rights Commission. For this institution, our Prime Minister has very high intention to establish this important institution by allowing NGOs to draft it and submit to the Working Group of the government.
However among all three institutions mentioned above, only two have been established but lack of efficiency and another one has not been established. In short, the human right protection mechanisms are still weak and the people have no confidence on existed institutions. We need to establish and strengthen existing institutions so that the state can guarantee in protecting human rights for the future.