Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawyers seek right to meet arrested clients within 24 hours

Lawyers seek right to meet arrested clients within 24 hours

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Interior minister Sar Kheng and BAKC president Suon Visal met on Tuesday. Sar Kheng Facebook Page

Lawyers seek right to meet arrested clients within 24 hours

The Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) president, Suon Visal, has requested Minister of Interior Sar Kheng to help lawyers fulfil their profession smoothly by permitting police to allow lawyers to meet their clients when they are arrested.

The request was made as a delegation from the BAKC visited Sar Kheng at the ministry on Tuesday. According to the minister’s Facebook post, Visal said some police stations allowed lawyers to meet suspects but many others were uncooperative.

“Suon Visal also requested Samdech Kralahom [Sar Kheng] to find a possibility to have a lawyer present at every police station in order to give legal consultation, and to avoid problems when sending a case to court,” it said.

In response, Sar Kheng said the ministry had delegated the task to secretary of state Bun Honn to assign lawyers to district and provincial administrations with high crime rates. The presence of a lawyer at those administrations would help avoid procedural errors.

BAKC deputy secretary Liv Sovanna told The Post on Tuesday that criminal procedure allows lawyers to meet their clients after 24 hours of the arrest. But if a lawyer is present at the police station and allowed to meet the detainee, the lawyer could give legal consultation and help the police to build a case.

Sovanna said: “At that stage, a suspect’s answers and evidence would be more useful if there was a lawyer present. Lawyers can assist the police. For instance, they can advise [police] what evidence to collect and what the charge should be.”

He said there was a conflict between the law on the status of lawyers in Cambodia and criminal procedure. The former says lawyers can meet clients at any place and time, but the latter says they can only meet clients 24 hours after the arrest. Lawyers find this restricting, Sovanna said.

“Practically, some police allow lawyers to accompany suspects during questioning. But many others did not allow this because they think that lawyers have no rights and that they only have the rights after 24 hours of arrest,” he said.

One lawyer, Ouk Vandeth, told The Post on Tuesday that Article 98 of the Criminal Code should be amended to let lawyers meet their clients immediately after an arrest.

“It depends on the Ministry of Justice and the National Police to consider whether the presence of a lawyer within 24 hours of arrest presents difficulties for them. But I think when there is a presence of a lawyer in their procedure, their work should be stronger because the lawyer is a witness.

“Some clients claimed they were beaten by police to get answers. We want to avoid hearing this claim, that’s why we want to work with the police in order to ensure that police are not wrong in their enforcement,” Vandeth said.

National Police spokesperson Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post on Tuesday that police follow the criminal procedure. For criminal cases, police will not allow lawyers to meet with suspects until 24 hours after the arrest because police are busy questioning suspects to find their accomplices. But for light crimes, police always coordinate with lawyers, he said.

“We are not narrow-minded about the cooperation in protecting the rights of the suspect and the contribution of lawyers to make police operations more effective. Honestly speaking, the police’s role is to arrest suspects, while a lawyer’s role is to protect them. So, it’s hard to say that lawyers will help the police because they come only to find a way to help their clients,” he said.

“But we are not objecting to this proposal. We will follow the leaders’ permission and the law.”

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said the article in question could be amended if there is a request. But the amendment would go through a consultation with lawyers and relevant legal enforcement institutions.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Cambodia planning new border checkpoint at Thma Da

    Cambodia is looking into the possibility of opening a new Thma Da Border Checkpoint with Thailand to boost trade and tourism. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said on December 4 that Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol led a technical working group