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

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,