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New report criticizes Cambodia court funding

The Centre for Social Development’s annual court monitoring report for 2007 released March

20 identifies human rights issues and court funding as key concerns, noting

the sharp contrast between the budget for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal and the

entire court system of Cambodia’s budget.

 

The report found “many instances where the judiciary failed to comply

with its obligations, resulting in serious violations of human rights.” 

 

Provisional

pre-trial detentions regularly exceeded the time limits imposed by law, while

legal rights, such as the right to the presumption of innocence and the right

to remain silent, were both routinely violated by judges and court officials,

the report said.

 

It added that 25.3 percent of defendants in the courts monitored alleged

that they were coerced into giving confessions by police.

 

The project monitored provincial courts in Kandal, Battambang and

Kampong Cham, the Supreme Court, Appeals

Court, and municipal courts in Phnom Penh.

 

“The CSD annual report makes clear that what goes on inside Cambodia’s

court rooms falls short of what can be considered procedural justice in a

democratic society,” US ambassador Joseph A. Mussomeli said at the launch of

the report.

“There remains a good deal to be done before the people of the judicial

system will earn the trust of the people of Cambodia.”

 

The report also described a critical lack of funding in the court

system. The budget for the Cambodian judiciary was set at $3,334,750 in 2007,

in stark contrast with the $56 million allocated to the Extraordinary Chambers

in the Courts of Cambodia.

 

“This disparity in

funding has left many questioning whether the ECCC is a relevant model for

local courts,” said the report.

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