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New provincial courtrooms to deliver efficient justice

New provincial courtrooms to deliver efficient justice

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090303_03.jpg

Proposed courts would prevent residents of Pailin, Kep and Oddar Meanchey from having to travel to hear court cases.

Photo by:

HENG CHIVOAN 

Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vananna in a file photograph.

AUTHORITIES from three newly established provinces that lack provincial courts have asked the Ministry of Justice to set up new courthouses to help deliver justice more efficiently to residents.

Currently, Oddar Meanchey province and the recently created Palin and Kep provinces have justice offices, but these can deal only with civil cases where the parties are not in dispute. All other cases fall outside their jurisdiction, which means suspects and victims must travel to adjacent provinces to be heard.

Koeut Sothea, deputy governor of Pailin, said that this caused significant problems.

"It is time to establish a court here so that we can provide legal services to local people," he said Monday.

"We face lots of difficulties in transporting suspects and criminals to other provinces."

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana could not be reached for comment, but a ministry official speaking on condition of anonymity said senior justice officials were actively discussing setting up courts in the provinces, although he could not give a timeline for delivery.

"The decision will be made by higher-level officials in the ministry," he said. "The main problem is finding the budget to build courtrooms, and to pay judges and prosecutors."

The official said the current status was that Pailin forwarded cases to Battambang, Oddar Meanchey sent its cases to Siem Reap and Kep sent its cases to Kampot.

Chhoun Makkara, Pailin coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said generally weak law enforcement and slow progress in hearing cases were further hindered in his province by the lack of courtrooms, forcing people to spend time and money travelling to Battambang, around 100 kilometres away.

"Many people complain about the difficulties of travelling. It is also difficult for us to reach police and court officials when we intervene in cases." 

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