Sunda,2007-09-09: Interpreting and Applying Laws

Posted on 13 September 2007. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 554 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 524

During the week, several activities related to law enforcement and law application were highlighted.

As of 1 September 2007, the new road traffic law, signed by the King already many months ago, is to be enforced – but several voiced had raised concerns that even the plan of the Phnom Penh municipality, to deploy additional forces at traffic lights, preparing to carry out traffic law enforcement, cannot solve the problem that there is not enough capacity to educate thousands and thousands of motorcycle drivers in time, to issue the newly required licenses. Observing the actual situation on the roads in Phnom Penh, the education, control, and punishment of drivers of big cars with or without licenses, which are statistically said to be responsible for most traffic accidents, still has not been addressed publicly as a high priority, compared to the problems of unlicensed drivers of small motorcycles.

If an impatient high-ranking military person can call a van with uniformed personnel in his support, because the gate of the Naga Casino was not opened for him quickly enough, then the time of having the traffic law enforced evenly on everybody seems to be still in the distant future.

On the other hand it was reported that the Prime Minister ordered to seize military vehicles that transport goods for businesspeople. There have been repeatedly allegations that military vehicles are involved also in transporting illegal logging products. If these words of Prime Minister would be enforced and publicly reported, that would be an important new step to clarify old allegations of complacency. Especially if not only such vehicles would be impounded, but also the beneficiaries of such illegalities would be publicly called to justice. – Such events happen frequently in China, Thailand, and Vietnam.

That a house where identification cards, degree certificates, bodyguards’ identity cards, authorization letters, and a large number of other documents had been forged over the years has been identified and raided by the authorities is good news. What is not so clear: it is the reported that after the raid, the involved officials were reluctant to say whether also documents of higher level leaders had been forged. Why were journalists not encouraged and assisted to make reports covering the whole range of criminal actions discovered, as an incentive to the public to be more vigilant?

A difficult legal discussion was unfolding since a hitherto almost unknown group in the USA – it is using the name “Cambodian Action Committee for Justice and Equity” – suggested that legal steps should be taken so that the Father King Sihanouk could appear before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia [ECCC], the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. This suggestion was rejected by a whole range of government and a wide spectrum of political party institutions. It is remembered, however, that the Father King had in the past also spoken about the possibility that he might testify at the tribunal, to contribute to the clarification of historical events. To accept such an invitation – published only on the Internet web page of the Father King – to the spokesperson and some other staffers of the ECCC, to come for a three-hours meeting at the Royal Palace, would surely have been beyond the scope of decisions for persons under United Nations contractual legal obligations to make quickly without headquarter involvement. So far, these communications have not lead to mutually satisfactory results. Given the high level international diplomatic stakes involved, this could also hardly be expected.

Looking back at the week, it is a learning field of how difficult it is to come to common conclusions about legal affairs. But such a situation cannot be just left unattended for the future development of a society, based on the rule of law, laid down in the Constitution. It is a challenge to engage even more into the clarification – not only among legal scholars, but among the citizens of the country of many different strata – how to develop and establish the society ever more based on reliable and justly applied laws for every citizen – including for non-citizens living in the country.

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