Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Justice Ministry may try community service after UN envoy points to excessive use of pre-trial detention



Justice Ministry may try community service after UN envoy points to excessive use of pre-trial detention

UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith (left) and Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana share a laugh as they walk out of a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh.
UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith (left) and Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana share a laugh as they walk out of a meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Justice Ministry may try community service after UN envoy points to excessive use of pre-trial detention

The Ministry of Justice yesterday said it was considering a pilot project to hand out community service sentences following a meeting in which UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith raised concerns over the excessive use of pre-trial detention by the Kingdom’s courts.

Smith, who is on a 10-day visit to the country, met with Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana yesterday to receive updates on judicial reforms, with ministry spokesman Chin Malin saying she expressed concern at the continued use of pre-trial detentions, especially in light of the ongoing drug crackdown, which has seen thousands of arrests – mostly of small-time users and dealers.

“It causes a crowding crisis in prisons, and also the pre-trial detention includes human rights activists, political activists . . . She wants to somehow make the pre-trial detention decrease.”

Courts have frequently used pre-trial detention to hold those accused of crimes, often claiming that the accused were threats to “social order and security”.

Malin said the rapporteur suggested looking at alternatives to pre-trial detention, such as increasing bail approvals in tandem with court supervision, and exploring community service sentencing.

However, Malin said it was difficult to grant bail or community sentences, maintaining that the public would assume a corrupt act led to the release of the culprit and take matters into their own hands.

“When they go back to the community, the community will think that the court is irregular because of this modern concept,” he said.

But the ministry was looking at starting a pilot project in Battambang province, where community service would be implemented and the community would be educated on such sentencing.

On leaving the meeting, Smith would only say that she had received an update from the minister on judicial reforms, especially with regard to pre-trial detention and alternative sentences.

“I got a briefing [on] a lot of the progress the ministry is making, particularly with pre-trial detention and alternate dispute resolution, as well as alternatives to custodial sentences,” she said outside the ministry.

Duch Piseth, advocacy director for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, welcomed the proposed pilot project.

He did agree, however, that it would take some convincing for people to accept a new concept like community service because the “people and public did not have faith in the court system”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Tottenham Hotspur to wear ISF Cambodia logo on jerseys in match against Sheffield United

    Last year, the Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) – an NGO providing education to underprivileged children in Cambodia – made global headlines with its “socially distanced” football initiative. This year, a world-class football club – Tottenham Hotspur FC – will wear special edition jerseys to show their support for ISF

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American