As of November, the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) has provided legal representation in nearly 5,000 cases for poor people at the Phnom Penh municipal and provincial courts, an increase of nearly 30 per cent compared to the same period last year.
BAKC president Ly Chantola told The Post on November 11 that the bar had stand-by delegates at courts in four regions of the capital and provinces across the country. BAKC delegates focused on suspects accused of criminal offences.
“For 2020, we have provided legal representation in nearly 5,000 cases for poor people. We noticed that this number increased because people have learned a lot about laws. When they have problems [court cases], they always come to legal experts or lawyers for help,” he said.
Chantola added the BAKC received financial help from the government, which typically provides $100 per case. But consider how long cases can take to be solved, the fee is not enough to fully compensate the lawyers providing the service.
“This work is voluntary. We also request the government to continue increasing its annual financial support to the bar. Hopefully, the association helps coordinate carrying out [this] voluntary work to defend cases to help poor people. Cases have increased significantly recently,” he said.
Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said on November 11 that the BAKC had worked extensively with the ministry concerning legal aid.
The BAKC assigns lawyers to people in need free-of-charge and the ministry pays a fee to help the volunteer defence lawyers represent the suspects.
“The BAKC has also joined the justice ministry in its campaign to clear a backlog of cases at the Phnom Penh municipal and provincial courts,” he said.
According to a one-year work progress report of the BAKC’s 12th mandate, 253 volunteer lawyers had defended cases for poor people across the country.
The report showed that in the second quarter of this year, the BAKC provided legal representation in 2,566 cases for 4,000 poor clients (291 females), 826 of whom were minors. The BAKC also provided legal consultation in 226 cases for poor clients.
The BAKC said that to provide poor people with legal services more quickly, requests should be made on the Telegram messaging app first.
Each office of BAKC delegates working with poorer clients uploads case data to a system which can be accessed at the BAKC head office. The capacity of the data system enabled the BAKC to know which lawyers were assigned to cases and view how the case proceeds.