Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bar Association plans expansion of free services in 2022

Bar Association plans expansion of free services in 2022

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
BAKC president Ly Chantola addresses the 26th general assembly of the Bar Association on October 17. BAKC

Bar Association plans expansion of free services in 2022

Over the past year, the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) has provided legal services to the poor in over 6,000 cases and their volunteer lawyers plan to continue expanding their free legal services to the poor to ensure Cambodians’ rights to equal access to a legal defence, according to BAKC president Ly Chantola.

BAKC are holding their 26th General Assembly over October 15-18 in order to elect new members to the Bar Council and establish a new mandate for 2021-2024.

In a speech given at the meeting on October 16, Chantola said that despite the current pandemic situation and the challenges posed by the crisis, BAKC has been able to achieve many important goals.

Chantola said that in the past year, BAKC has assigned lawyers to a total of 6,692 clients, including nearly 500 women and 1,548 minors.

He said that in addition to providing people with a legal defence, BAKC has also been providing free legal consultations to the poor.

“We have continued to strengthen and expand our services in the judiciary in order to promote the rights to justice in society by providing free legal assistance to the poor. In 2022, the government will increase the budget for this project to 2.6 billion riel [around $640,000] to ensure the people’s rights to legal defence,” he said.

Chantola also claimed that in addition to providing free legal defence to the poor through government funding, there were also other defence and legal consultation services taking place through many other programmes.

The numbers of volunteer lawyers has increased to 214 in total, with each lawyer receiving about 1.2 million riel per case.

Sok Sam Oeun, an attorney with the Amrin Law and Consultants Group, said he could not assess the quality of the bar association’s legal services for the poor, but in his experience the provision of free defence lawyers in Cambodia still had some shortcomings and any such programme needed to be closely monitored in order to be managed effectively.

“This is a good idea, but they should have the lawyers participating from the beginning of the investigation and not just provide a lawyer to stand there at the trial, because if the investigation isn’t accurate it will affect the trial results.

“I think there may be some issues because the lawyers who show up to defend the poor sometimes don’t know their clients’ name or case when they arrive at the hearing,” he said.

In addition to this, Sam Oeun said he would also like to see increased subsidies for volunteer lawyers to ensure that the funds provided enable each lawyer to perform their duties adequately and fully.

At the conference, Chantola noted that as of May of this year BAKC has 2,382 members, of whom 1,788 are full-time professional lawyers with the rest being law students and interns, or members who have retired from the profession or are not actively working in the legal profession.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the