Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN’s Smith praises Kingdom’s legal assistance achievements



UN’s Smith praises Kingdom’s legal assistance achievements

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
UN human rights monitor for Cambodia Rhona Smith expressed her appreciation for the Kingdom’s achievements regarding legal assistance during a meeting with Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana on Thursday. Heng Chivoan

UN’s Smith praises Kingdom’s legal assistance achievements

At a meeting with Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana on Thursday, UN human rights monitor for Cambodia Rhona Smith expressed her appreciation for the Kingdom’s achievements regarding legal assistance, said ministry spokesman Chin Malin.

Their discussions were held to assess what had been achieved since the previous meeting in November last year.

Malin said Smith’s recommendations had focused on three areas – legal assistance, including the provision of lawyers for poor people, transparency and quality of court services, and pre-trial detention and prison overcrowding.

The Ministry of Justice and the Bar Association had set up a team of legal aid lawyers for poor people at municipal and provincial courts, Malin said, and 66 district justice service centres had been created, employing nearly 300 officers.

Regarding transparency, Malin said service fees were now posted at courts and published on each court’s Facebook page.

Furthermore, service quality had been improved through digitisation of court administration work.

Prison overcrowding has been harder to tackle, and Smith noted that she had seen little improvement.

The ministry acknowledged it needed more time and Malin said working groups have been created to resolve the issue, with the long-term target being to create regional appeal courts to ease the pile-up of cases.

Two regional appeal courts were being constructed this year, Malin said – one in Tbong Khmum province and another in Battambang province.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
UN human rights monitor for Cambodia Rhona Smith expressed her appreciation for the Kingdom’s achievements regarding legal assistance during a meeting with Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana on Thursday. Heng Chivoan

After the meeting, Smith told reporters that Vong Vathana had updated her on the great deal of work that had been achieved since last year’s meeting but emphasised that Cambodia had a responsibility to meet its human rights obligations as ratified in international law.

“We also discussed matters related to pre-trial detention, Cambodia’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), and particularly SDG16 – peace, justice and strong institutions.”

Rhona Smith has been in the Kingdom since April 29 and will leave on May 9.

Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey told The Post that a few years ago there were many complaints about the legal system, and the Anti-Corruption Unit had acknowledged problems such as overcharging.

“The court represents the judicial system of a country. Even the provision of public documents is a kind of court service, and courts should be a role model."

“When we see the word ‘justice’, it is clear that it should be unbiased and fair, so I ask the court to be a role model more than any other ministry or institution, so we can move towards being an enlightened society,” Chey said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Covid in Kingdom hits ‘critical point’

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia has reached a critical point, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned, as cases surge with two more deaths and 265 infections reported over the weekend. On March 28 alone, the Ministry of Health recorded 86 Covid-19 cases linked to the February 20

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia set for large-scale vaccination campaign as Covid spreads

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed all provincial authorities to get ready for a large-scale vaccination campaign, with at least one million doses to be administered per month. “We will roll out at least one million doses. The vaccines we have purchased and received as

  • Covid-19 spreads in Kingdom, infects more children

    The Ministry of Health on March 28 reported another 86 Covid-19 cases linked to the February 20 community outbreak. Among them, two are Chinese and the rest are Cambodian. Preah Sihanouk province recorded the most cases at 43, followed by the capital at 25; three each in Tbong Khmum, Svay