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

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Mr Pancake or M Crepe? Tasty by any title

    Crowds of people gather around a lone man with a mobile food cart every day at around 2pm in front of the Institut Francais du Cambodge to order what many say are the best crepes in Phnom Penh. To some – even to the man making

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused

  • PM sets tourism reopening as centrepiece of ATF 2022

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged ASEAN to reopen tourism and trade now that many of the bloc’s member countries have vaccinated their populations. Speaking at the 40th ASEAN Tourism Forum 2022 (ATF 2022) in Preah Sihanouk province on January 18, the premier also said ASEAN has a