Following days of high-profile convictions and charges dealt at breakneck speed, based on little evidence and little investigation, a prominent legal expert said yesterday that the law “needs to be updated” to change Cambodia’s widely decried court system.
On Wednesday, in a trial that saw four activists sentenced to a year in prison despite a seeming lack of evidence, as the defence was about to give its final remarks, the judge left the courtroom to relieve himself, with court documents and a telephone in hand, followed by the prosecutor.
But while this is “improper”, there is no law in place to stop it, legal expert Sok Sam Oeun explained.
“The prosecutor and judge share offices,” Sam Oeun said, citing another concern. “The government says it is consistent, that the judge and prosecutor are part of the same group.”
Sam Oeun said that without the court itself being put under greater scrutiny, “unfair” verdicts could continue. But, he said, this would be difficult to achieve.
“They never [regulate] mistakes [by] government staff, just punishment for the people.”