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Legal assistance sought for juvenile victims, offenders

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Cambodian Bar officials meet with UNICEF Child Protection officer Lim Vanna on Wednesday. BAKC

Legal assistance sought for juvenile victims, offenders

Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) president Ly Chantola said the BAKC is collaborating with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide legal assistance to both juvenile victims and offenders at court hearings across the country.

The decision to provide legal representation came on December 16 when Chantola and UNICEF Child Protection Officer Lim Vanna concluded their discussion on working together to help children in need of legal assistance.

Tola told The Post on December 17 that the BAKC has worked with UNICEF on child issues and this latest discussion aimed to create a new mechanism for further collaboration.

“The BAKC also wishes to protect child victims. In general, we strengthen the ability of lawyers in carrying out their work with child offenders. So, what we had [agreed in our] discussion is to assist both the child victims and offenders,” Tola said.

He said the BAKC would train lawyers in additional knowledge on juvenile justice to equip them with the required skills to represent children as defence lawyers in court.

“In cooperation with UNICEF, we will train lawyers on how to defend a child offender in court. We will also deploy lawyers with this skill to courts across the country,” he said.

Chantola said Cambodia’s juvenile justice law has some unique specifications on educational and correctional measures for child offenders. Furthermore, to defend children in court, lawyers should have additional skills in areas such as child psychology.

UNICEF will provide funding to BAKC to enable lawyers to perform defence work for the children. In legal principle, all children accused of committing a criminal offence must have a defence lawyer, he said.

“When an offence involves a juvenile, the BAKC will report it to UNICEF so we can give the children support throughout the legal procedures,” he said.

Chantola said that this year, the BAKC had deployed lawyers to represent impoverished defendants in 6,914 cases in courts across the country. This represents an increase of 3,036 cases over the 3,878 cases last year.

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