Court/Judicial body: Cambodian Constitutional Council
Date: July 10, 2007 CRC
Provisions:Convention on the Rights of the Child (general reference)
Domestic provisions:Constitution of the Kingdom of CambodiaLaw on Aggravating Circumstances for Felonies, Article 8
Background: With the aim of reducing custodial sentences for persons under the age of 18, a civil society petition was filed to challenge the Law on Aggravating Circumstances for Felonies as an unconstitutional violation of the Cambodian Constitution and the CRC.
Issue and resolution: Juvenile justice and status of the CRC in national law. The Council ruled that although the law in question did not violate the Constitution, it must be applied within the framework of international human rights law.
Court reasoning: In passing the Law on Aggravating Circumstances for Felonies, the Council ruled that it could not have been the legislature’s intention to violate the CRC. Instead, the law must be applied within the framework of the Constitution and in the context of the international human rights treaties, which also enjoy Constitutional protection. This holds true for all domestic legislation, which must be applied by courts in such a way to be consistent with the Constitution, the CRC, and other human rights treaties that the Cambodian government has recognised.
Excerpt citing CRC and other relevant human rights as translated by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights The Constitutional Council, Having seen the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia… After having discussed the matter properly according to the law… Understands that [although] Article 8 modifies Article 68 of the UNTAC provisions, it does not undermine the rights and interests of children. The provision of Article 8 of the Law on Aggravating Circumstances for Felonies is not unconstitutional; Understands that at case trial, in principle, a judge shall not only rely on Article 8 of the Law on Aggravating Circumstances for Felonies, but also relies on the law. The term “the law” here refers to the national law including the Constitution which is the supreme law and other applicable laws as well as the international conventions that Cambodia has recognized, especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
CRIN comments: CRIN believes that the reasoning behind this decision is consistent with the CRC. The CRC should be granted high status in all States Parties’ legal systems, meaning that national legislation should always be passed and interpreted in conformity with CRC principles and provisions as well as other international human rights norms.
Citation: Decision No. 092/003/2007 dated 10 July 2007; Case-file No. 131/003/2007 dated 26 June 2007 Link to Full Judgment: Partial English translation (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights): http://cambodia.ohchr.org/WebDOCs/DocPublications/CCBHR%20Constitution/CCBHR-EN.pdf Official French translation (Cambodian Constitutional Council):http://www.ccc.gov.kh/french/decision/2007/dec_003.pdf