The Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) recently posted on its Facebook page that it would form a legal aid group “to defend those whose rights have been violated, especially the poor”.
Ministry of Justice and CHRC spokesman Chin Malin on Tuesday said the team would add to the existing legal aid groups available in Cambodia.
“This additional mechanism is to be implemented so that people would have more options when it comes to accessing legal services.
“We already have similar mechanisms provided by the Ministry of Justice, the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia [BAKC] as well as the ministries of Interior, Defence, Women Affairs.
“There are also private mechanisms such as that of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s legal aid group,” Malin said.
He said the committee’s legal aid group would be responsible for three main tasks, including providing legal consultancy to people, facilitating in conflict resolution outside the judicial system and defending the rights of defendants at court trials or hearings.
Commenting on the matter, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) country representative Simon Walker stressed that everyone had the right to legal assistance, “so any step to provide legal assistance is welcome”.
“OHCHR supports streamlined and coordinated legal aid and, in this context, has been working with the Ministry of Justice on the development of the legal aid policy.
“OHCHR encourages the swift adoption of this policy with adequate resourcing to support it,” he told The Post via email on Tuesday.
Similarly, Yung Phanit, the deputy head of the BAKC’s department of legal defence for the poor, said he welcomed CHRC’s initiative.
He said the move would reduce the requests for lawyers which have continuously increased at the BAKC.
“If their targets are poor people, their work would reduce the burden that the BAKC is facing,” Phanit said.