Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Legal policy on marginalised groups finished by gov’t, EU




Legal policy on marginalised groups finished by gov’t, EU

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
From left; legal adviser Kai Hauerstein; Chin Malin, undersecretary of state; and Claudia de la Fuente, the rule of law unit head at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Heng Chivoan

Legal policy on marginalised groups finished by gov’t, EU

Ministry of Justice and the European Union (EU) experts have finalised the draft policy to provide legal aid to marginalised groups in rural areas in the Kingdom.

The ministry and the EU completed the draft during their Technical Support for Legal Aid Policy Development workshop on August 31.

Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said the legal aid policy was created to help channel legal assistance to the disabled, women, children, and ethnic minorities.

“We will provide [free] legal advice and lawyers to any person who cannot afford such service. This will ensure justice is served to those who are in need,” Malin said.

He said if people are entangled in litigations and do not have access to legal assistance, they could lose their case in court.

“When no one helps them, they will be under pressure [because] they do not know how to solve the case and could commit some inappropriate act like using violence. So legal aid helps to maintain harmony in society,” Malin added.

The ministry is working along with the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC), to provide voluntary lawyers and manage the budget to carry out legal aid as well.

And the funding for this has been increasing annually – from 200 million riel ($49,000) last year to 800 million riel this year. Next year, the budget is expected to be raised to 1,200 million riel, he said.

“The BAKC assigns lawyers while the ministry pays for their services, such as for transportation and food,” he said, adding that nearly 500 lawyers are currently working on a voluntary basis to provide legal support.

“It is social work, so the ministry grants the money to encourage them,” Malin said.

However, he cautioned that the service cannot be sustained indefinitely. “Due to a shortage of funds and the few lawyers who volunteer, this service remains limited. People do not always perform volunteer work. Someday lawyers could face economic hardships and they could stop [providing such services].

“Therefore, it may not be sustainable in the future, but to ensure it is, we created the Legal Aid National Policy,” he said.

For almost a year, experts from the ministry and EU studied models in various countries, especially from the region, to develop and fine-tune the draft policy.

Claudia de la Fuente, the Rule of Law Unit's head at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said the policy is vital for Cambodia and inputs from various stakeholders will be included in the draft.

“I believe the policy will move in a positive way with the actual participation of relevant parties and their voices will be heard,” she said.

Simone Pieri, who is part of the EU’s delegation, welcomed the draft policy.

“Although Cambodia offers legal advice in its judicial system, it lacks the framework to give legal aid effectively to the vulnerable people,” he said.

He said the EU wants to see the rule of law implemented so people have access to justice, as it is crucial to maintaining social stability in the country.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia