Eight judges and prosecutors who were either sacked, suspended or transferred under
Hun Sen's "iron fist" judicial reform initiative have been reappointed
by the Supreme Council of Magistracy (SCM) and will be back to work soon.
Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana said the SCM appointed the transferred judges
and prosecutors last month after they had worked inside the ministry for several
months. He added that the SCM was inspecting the "wrongdoings" of several
Phnom Penh Municipal Court judges and prosecutors who were fired or suspended.
"I think this is a good example for other court officials to correct their work,"
Vong Vathana told the Post on June 27.
He said the suspended judges will be back to work soon, but they will be posted away
from their original courtrooms.
"I want to see the feedback after some judges and prosecutors were punished
and blamed," he said.
But a member of the SCM, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the reappointments
involved only the judges and prosecutor who were suspended. The Ministry of Justice
was inspecting the sacked judges and prosecutors before they were proposed to the
SCM for reappointment. The reappointed judges and prosecutors started work at the
new locations from mid June.
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said the punishments
were not harsh enough. He said the President of the Supreme Court, who chaired the
disciplinary council, should inspect the behavior and morality of these officials,
particularly in regard to the working relationships between investigating and the
"I don't think these judges and prosecutors are 100 percent clean," Sam
He said Hun Sen's "iron fist" approach was a good step towards reforming
the judiciary, but that lower-ranking officials have told him it was not clear whether
the suspended officials were released through a formal procedure or simply due to
"This kind of implementation affects the independence of the court procedure
and the suspects," Sam Oeun said, "The court will not dare to release suspects
even if they do not have enough evidence."
Tan Senarong, who started his new work in early June, said he was not suspended by
the SCM or from the Ministry of Justice for any wrongdoing. Instead, he had been
transferred from Phnom Penh Municipal Court to work as a member of a committee on
the laws for judge and prosecutor.
He said that even after he was appointed a judge in Kandal province but he is still
working for the Ministry of Justice one day a week.
"I am happy to be reappointed, I am happy to accept it," said Senarong.
During Hun Sen's court reform campaign - begun in mid-2005 to crack down on irregularities
within the Phnom Penh Municipal Court - Judge Kong Sarith and Deputy Prosecutor Siem
Sok Aun were sacked, Judges Ham Mengse and Hing Thirith and Deputy Prosecutor Khut
Sopheang were suspended for one year and Phnom Penh Municipal Court Chief Prosecutor
Ouk Savuth was given a warning.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Deputy Chief Nop Sophon, and judges Tan Senarong, Boninh
Bonary and Kim Sophoan, were sent to work in the Ministry of Justice until they could
be reappointed elsewhere.
According to the proposal from the Minister of Justice with the agreement of SCM
session, on May 4, King Norodom Sihamoni, president of SCM issued a Royal Decree
that appointed eight judges and prosecutors after they were posted to non-court work
in the Ministry of Justice for about eight months.
The judges and prosecutor reappointed were:
- Kim Sothavy, judge in the Ministry of Justice, appointed a judge at the Supreme
- Tan Senarong, former Phnom Penh municipal court judge, appointed a judge at Kandal
- Khorn Sokal, former Kandal provincial court judge, appointed a judge at Siem
- Kim Sophoan, former Phnom Penh municipal court judge, appointed a judge at Sihanoukville
- Ker Sakhan, former deputy chief at Sihanoukville court, appointed deputy chief
at Phnom Penh municipal court;
- Nop Sophon, former deputy chief at Phnom Penh municipal court, appointed deputy
chief at Siem Reap court;
- Kong Kuy, former deputy chief at Kandal court, appointed deputy chief at Banteay
- Yam Yet, former chief prosecutor at Battambang court, appointed chief prosecutor
at Prey Veng court;
- Khut Sopheang, former deputy prosecutor at Phnom Penh municipal court, appointed
in the last meeting as deputy chief prosecutor at Kampong Speu court.