Electoral Dispute Resolution

Excerpt from ACE Project

The National Election Committee (NEC) is reponsible for ‘deciding on all complaints and appeals relating to the election, except for those that fall under the jurisdiction of the Court’. For national elections, this jurisdiction is subject to recourse before the Constitutional Council, which rules in final instance. One unique aspect of the Cambodian system is that it grants the NEC quasi-judicial competences as regards penal offences related to elections, notwithstanding possible criminal proceedings. A lack of confidence in the judiciary, among other reasons, accounts for such a choice. As a complement to the law, NEC regulations have established clear jurisdiction for lower electoral commissions in the settlement of electoral complaints. They shall attempt conciliation between the concerned parties before formal proceedings are conducted, and act as critical filters to prevent the congestion of legal services at the national level. Their decisions may be appealed to the next level up to the NEC, and ultimately to the Constitutional Council for National Assembly and Senate Elections.

Despite these valuable features, the adjudication of complaints and appeals remains one of the most contentious aspects of the electoral process. As documented by national and international observers in recent elections, Cambodia’s electoral justice system has failed to remedy the most significant alleged irregularities. Given the environment in which they operate, lower electoral commissions are often reluctant to embark on politically charged proceedings; many complaints are thus summarily dismissed at the entry point, on formal grounds or for ‘lack of evidence’, and complainants may be pressed to accept conciliation even when serious offences are alleged. Despite successive amendments, there remain critical flaws in the applicable provisions, including overly complex procedures, the absence of a general jurisdiction for the NEC to address violations other than specifically listed electoral offences, and unreasonably short timelines for the submission and settlement of post-election challenges. Finally, notwithstanding the competence of its legal services, the NEC is not perceived as an impartial arbiter, particularly as it has failed to enforce sanctions on ruling party affiliates in a number of recent high-profile cases.

Resources :

PDF : Appeals against the Provisional Election Results at NEC and Constitutional Council, National Assembly Elections (2008)
PDF : Electoral Campaign Related Complaints (2008)
PDF : Election Day Related Complaints (2008)

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