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Courts’ decisions now published as reference source

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Justice minister Koeut Rith speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh last year. Heng Chivoan

Courts’ decisions now published as reference source

The Ministry of Justice has published 44 verdicts from civil litigation cases which can be used as models for court precedents and for study by the public and those who work in pertinent fields.

Publication of the verdicts on December 31 came as the result of joint efforts with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the ministry announced on its website. The published verdicts cover mostly money lending and real estate agreements.

Ministry spokesperson Chin Malin said on January 3 that these verdicts were selected because they could serve as models and revealing them to the public will not affect the reputations or confidentiality of parties involved in the cases. Students could take these court decisions as a basis for their studies, and they will also be of vital importance for law enforcement officials, he said.

According to legal principle, all court verdicts must be made available to the public unless doing so would compromise the privacy of those involved in the case or other sensitive information, Malin said.

“This is the start of the publication of verdicts. We begin with these 44 civil verdicts, and we will publish more civil and criminal cases in the future. This is meant as a tool for the knowledge of students and legal enforcement officials. But it takes some time because we need to carefully check them before publishing in order to avoid conflicts with our professional standards,” he said.

Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun applauded the publication of the cases, saying he and others had been advocating for this for many years. Publishing verdicts is vital for judges so that they can be used as precedents when hearing similar cases, he said.

“We don’t want to see similar cases being tried differently. It is not acceptable that one group of judges decides this way and another group of judges decides another way. We want the courts to be able to rule with consistency,” Sam Oeun said, adding that verdicts based on precedents will better serve the cause of justice.

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