The government plans to establish alternative legal dispute mechanisms nationwide by 2012, Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana said yesterday.
“[The project] will increase rights to access for justice, the conflicts between parties will be quickly resolved and the disputing parties will be able to save time and money,” Ang Vong Vathana said yesterday at a conference on alternative dispute mechanisms in Phnom Penh.
Ang Vong Vathana added that one of the aims of the project was to “reduce the burden on the overloaded courts”.
Mediation “has helped to reduce hardships for many Cambodians living in the countryside, who often cannot afford to use, or [are] daunted by, traditional legal channels”, the United Nations Development Programme said in a statement yesterday.
The programme will expand on a 4-year, US$3.2 million initiative between the Council of Legal and Judicial Reform, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, UNDP and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, which has established mediation services in Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Battambang, Siem Reap, Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces. The project formally ended in March.
Some 2,652 civic dispute cases have been mediated by 56 commune dispute resolution committees, while 20 justice centres at the district level mediated 676, according to UNDP.
Conflicts involved land disputes, domestic violence, defamation, divorce, property demarcation, property destruction, theft and inheritance.
Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said alternative dispute systems were important but warned that village and commune elders and chiefs “must not weigh on politics, which would cause problems [of political discrimination]”.