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

  • Hundreds of children in hospital with dengue

    A serious dengue fever epidemic is affecting Cambodia, with nearly 600 children hospitalised in the five Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals on Monday alone, a statement posted on the Kantha Bopha Foundation’s official Facebook page said on Wednesday. Because Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals provide

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials

  • Using tech innovation to tackle Cambodia’s rampant road deaths

    Cutting corners, rampant phone use, speeding and driving through red lights – these are just some of the reasons why driving in Phnom Penh can often feel like a city-wide game of dodgems. The high death toll on the nation’s roads – combined with several high-profile