Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Magistracy meet calls for order in the court




Magistracy meet calls for order in the court

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana speaks in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. Yesterday, he called for Cambodia’s judges to behave more responsibly to prevent citizens from losing faith in the judiciary.
Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana speaks in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. Yesterday, he called for Cambodia’s judges to behave more responsibly to prevent citizens from losing faith in the judiciary. Heng Chivoan

Magistracy meet calls for order in the court

Judge and prosecutors were called to a two-day workshop to address the sector’s pervasive ethics challenges, but legal experts said change could not occur until there were concrete rules, instead of vague moral guidelines.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vattana said that while some members of the judiciary acted professionally, others “forget their ethics that light the path”.

The workshop, run by the Supreme Council of Magistracy and the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, came just a day after it was reported Prime Minister Hun Sen told provincial authorities in Banteay Menchey to disregard a ruling by the Supreme Court.

Vattana cited problems such as judges interrupting cases to answer their phone and ignoring their responsibilities by allowing clerks to issue warrants without oversight.

“These factors make justice weaker, and we are losing trust from the public,” he said.

While Vattana said judges “must not commit any inappropriate action that violates the law and our social morality”, legal expert Sok Sam Oeun called for judges’ ethics to be defined in detail.

Oeun acknowledged it was widely believed that huge bribes were paid for judgeships, but denied it was the reality.

“It’s only rumour, but all the time [it is said] there are many students who apply for the judiciary exam to be a judge, but the poor people have no hope,” he said.

He called for a “clear and detailed code of ethics” that took bad behaviour out of the realm of morals and made unethical acts punishable by law. “It is too vague . . . they should make a strengthened mechanism and a special court to discipline judges and prosecutors.”

Ith Rady, a member of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, said an “addiction” to entertainment venues and heavy drinking that saw judges oversleep and miss their scheduled court proceedings was a major issue, adding that legal professionals were seen at times fraternising with plaintiffs or defendants.

He said last year there had been 100 complaints brought against the judiciary for their decisions.

While Rady dodged questions about political pressure on the courts, saying “influence on this side or that side” was “unavoidable”, Oeun pointed to his own case record.

“I defend many political cases but never win. But 80 per cent of the private cases, I win. I cannot say anything [about political influence], but there is this kind of data,” he said.

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