THE Ministry of Justice has issued a letter warning court officials to refrain from committing “indecent acts”.
In the letter, dated July 16 and obtained yesterday, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana said justice officials had received multiple complaints concerning unnamed court officials – particularly court clerks.
“Clerks have a role to write notes and keep complaint documents as well as perform duties well following legal procedure, based on neutral, unbiased policy,” the letter reads.
It adds that clerks must “make the public confident in them and the justice system”.
“The Ministry of Justice will take strong measures to punish any clerk committing indecent acts that affect the justice sector,” Ang Vong Vathana warned.
Sam Prachea Manith, the Justice Ministry’s cabinet chief, said the letter had been sent to all municipal and provincial courts across the Kingdom.
“The minister is targeting all court officials, especially clerks, who work closely to receive complaints from people,” he said. “Clerks at the court have no power to judge in any case.”
He said the letter was not prompted by any one case.
Chan Soveth, senior monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said his organisation often hears of public frustration with the courts and court clerks.
“If [someone] has money, the clerk may pay attention to the complaint, but if no money, they may discriminate and delay the case for a long time,” Chan Soveth said, describing one common grievance.
Yeng Virak, executive director of the Community Legal Education Centre, said the ministry letter was unusual, but he also described it as a positive step.
“This letter should help to address the mistrust of the public in the legal system,” he said.