Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Judge rules underage girl’s jailing unlawful

Judge rules underage girl’s jailing unlawful

Reaksmey was allegedly detained prior to reaching the age of criminal responsibility. Photo supplied
Reaksmey was allegedly detained prior to reaching the age of criminal responsibility. Photo supplied

Judge rules underage girl’s jailing unlawful

An underage girl who was illegally detained for more than eight months at Prey Sar is set to be released today, her lawyers confirmed yesterday.

At a Phnom Penh Municipal Court hearing on Friday, judge Svay Tonh ordered the girl, named Reaksmey and currently 14 years old, be released on bail. The judge found she was wrongfully imprisoned for drug trafficking because she was arrested as a 13-year-old, 10 days prior to turning 14 – the age of criminal responsibility in Cambodia.

Ouk Vandeth, her lawyer and director of International Bridges to Justice, said the judge had concluded from her small stature that Reaksmey could not possibly be 20 years old, as the police report claimed, and ruled her detention was “unjust”.

“The court just went ahead based on the police report, which didn’t include her birth certificate,” he said. He said a hearing on the drug-trafficking charge would still proceed, but Reaksmey would not face further jail time even if she was found guilty.

Seng Liv, Reaksmey’s mother, said she was “happy beyond compare”, but feared Reaksmey would be again threatened by local traffickers and forced to sell drugs, which Liv claims was the cause of her prior arrest.

But Tuol Sangke commune police chief Huy Hean, while saying her release was the court’s purview, maintained there had been no police mistake in her arrest. “We did our best when we arrested her. But lacking some information, the court released her,” Hean said.

He also claimed drug crime had dropped by 99 percent since he arrested Reaksmey, a claim that could not be independently verified.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At