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

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Show evidence of Chinese military base, critics told

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said he had had enough of certain countries and opposition groups claiming Cambodia had allowed China to base its military in Cambodia and dared critics to show clear evidence. Hun Sen made the remarks while presiding over a groudbreaking