The top judge and prosecutor in Cambodia’s judiciary will see their allowances rise 300 per cent to $2,500, while those in lower courts are also in for significant hikes, according to a decree released yesterday.
The document, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, reveals details of judicial allowance increases, which are being billed as a way to combat graft in the Kingdom’s judiciary, frequently criticised for endemic bribery and corruption.
The biggest winners appear to be Supreme Court President Dith Munty, a Cambodian People’s Party standing committee member, and Chea Leang, Supreme Court prosecutor general, whose allowances will grow from $625 to $2,500, according to Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin.
Munty yesterday told the Post he was “happy” with the boost.
Deputy judges and prosecutors in Cambodia’s highest court, as well as the Appeal Court’s president and general prosecutor, You Bunleng and Ouk Savouth, respectively, will get $1,125, up from $550.
Appeal Court judges and prosecutors and provincial and municipal court directors will take home $875, up from $425.
Provincial and municipal judges and prosecutors will get $750, up from $325.
The cash, which does not include base salary, will cover rent, medical bills, transport and job relocation, the sub-decree said.
Malin said the infusion of cash, coupled with wider reforms, would help prevent corruption and strengthen the rule of law. “When there are sufficient finances, we can implement the law with quality,” Malin said.
However, critics yesterday disagreed. CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay said judges and prosecutors used their positions to leverage significant bribes.
“You have to look at the core of corruption, you have to start looking at the people who have got the job and how they got the job in the first place,” Chhay said. “You need qualified people for the job and an accountable and transparent system.”
A Cambodian lawyer, who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity fearing professional repercussions, agreed.
“Corruption here has become deeply rooted, deeply ingrained. It has become a culture, and when things become a culture it’s really difficult to address it. It will need a very long time and long term education,” they said.
“[The increase] is a reward to judges and prosecutors who have been under the orders of politicians . . . They can’t afford to have an independent judiciary, because it may lead to the collapse of the regime.”