T op-level officials from the Interior and Justice Ministries have agreed on a
package of measures in a bid to stem rising crime and reform the country's law
and order system.
The points were hammered out at a five-day meeting
hosted by the UN Centre for Human Rights and will go forward for government
Among the recommendations we're:
- Greater cooperation between the police and the judiciary.
- The introduction of a full penal code, defining exactly what constitutes a
- A law of evidence, which deems what is acceptable to be put before a
- Proper training for the police and judiciary.
- The introduction of forensic and other scientific means of investigating
- To shift control of prisons from the Ministry of Interior to Ministry of
Justice. The move was recommended by a Ministry of Interior official who said it
was needed to prevent criticism of the police.
However, Basil Fernando, a high-ranking UN human rights official, who hosted
the meeting, warned the reforms would be impossible to implement without large
amounts of foreign aid.
Mr Fernando said: "Having functioning judicial
and police systems is central to creating a social environment in which human
rights are protected, in which development can occur, and in which tourism can
Among the participants of the meeting were judges,
prosecutors, nine police generals and two members of the National Assembly.
Mr Fernando said: "The participants in the seminar were very sincerely
involved, there was a great deal of participation.
Mr Fernando said one
main concern of the participants was how to contend with rising crime
The participants in the seminar emphasized the need for "greater
coordination between the police and the judiciary," and identified the many
areas which needed regulation by new laws, Mr Fernando said.
said that criminal investigations were also badly in need of cash and assistance
Mr Fernando said: "At the moment there are no obligatory
investigations in criminal cases. Most of the time cases are not
"Part of the problem is a lack of equipment to carry out
the investigations. There are no forensic doctors, no forensic
"But improving the judiciary and police systems is going to
Mr Fernando added: "If Cambodia wants a working judicial
system, capable of creating security for its law-abiding citizens and foreign
investors, money will have to be invested."
Due a lack of large
investigative teams, technical apparatus, and technical expertise, the police
are unable to pursue convictions and bring criminals to justice, said Mr
In the absence of an investigative apparatus, catching
criminals now depends for the most part on "catching them in the act," said
another human rights worker, who declined to be named.
results in a shoot-out and sometimes the death of policemen or the
The rights worker pointed out two other major problems the
police face controlling crime.
He said that "the police have taken the
view that there are only a few hundred of them and if they are taken out one at
a time, so much the better."
The second problem is that many of the
criminals are well connected.
The rights worker said: "They have
high-level patrons who will have them quickly on the street again if they are
This problem is bypassed, he said, "by simply gunning them
down when they are caught in the act." But being able to do this requires luck,
or a tip-off.
Mr Fernando said: "Creating a real justice system in any
country requires primarily a commitment from above, justice will not arise from
a grassroots movement."
Human rights advocates have long noted that
judges and policemen, like other government servants cannot support their
families on the money that they are paid.
If independence of the
judiciary is to be achieved, their salaries will have to be raised, they point
But the human rights worker said: "If salaries are raised only for
judiciary and the police, the army and other government workers are likely to