The construction of legal offices in prisons will be completed by the middle of next year, said Lim Chanlida, a lawyer and Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) construction committee head.
She told The Post that offices in four provinces were completed with a labour force comprising prisoners. Each legal room costs about $5,000-$6,000.
The proposal to have the legal offices, she said, was to facilitate consultation between lawyers and prisoners inside such facilities.
The BAKC began construction in August. Offices in Takeo, Svay Rieng, Prey Veng and Battambang provinces have been completed.
Those in another 10 provinces are between 40 and 60 per cent complete.
“Legal offices in four provinces have been completed already, but we need to install [a plaque with the] names of the donors, who mostly are lawyers, and the association’s logo at the office entrance. The offices will be equipped with desks and chairs made of good wood, one air conditioner and an electric fan,” Chanlida said.
She said the money for construction was provided by lawyers wanting to contribute to charitable social work in the country, though the labour force was made up entirely of prisoners.
The BAKC worked with the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons (GDP), which provided the skilled manpower for the project in exchange for payment.
Chanlida said Prime Minister Hun Sen provided the initial donation of $70,000. Another $70,000 was donated by lawyers, bringing the total budget for the legal offices in all 24 provincial capitals to $140,000.
GDP spokesman San Keo told The Post on Tuesday that legal offices are being built to facilitate consultation between lawyers and prisoners, who are permitted by law to have access to private consultation with their lawyers.
Veteran defence lawyer Lor Kimgech said the offices are good for private consultations with prisoners without the interference of prison officials or security.
“What I want in return is for prison officials not to use the legal offices for meetings with former officials and their families.
“[Previously] when lawyers need the office to consult with clients, prison officials tell them to ‘sit under the trees’ for consultation. That happens a lot, especially in Prey Sar prison. They say you can sit under the trees because it is cooler,” he said.
Adhoc spokesperson Soeung Sen Karuna said the legal offices will offer privacy for lawyer-prisoner consultation. The goal of the offices is to facilitate meetings between prisoners and their lawyers.
“I hope after the legal offices are completed, it will provide benefits to clients and lawyers without interference and intimidation from prison officials or [others] who would violate the privacy that the legal offices are intended for,” Sen Karuna said.