Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘No more lawyer shortage’

‘No more lawyer shortage’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Lawyers from across the Kingdom attend the Bar Association congress in Phnom Penh last year. Hong Menea

‘No more lawyer shortage’

While the Appeal Court complains of a shortage of lawyers during trials, senior officials at the Kingdom’s top Bar association say it has hundreds on standby to provide legal representation in a timely fashion.

Appeal Court spokesman Touch Tharith said the court had submitted a proposal for more lawyers to the Justice Ministry, which is the only institution entitled to request for them from the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC).

“When hearing a criminal case, we need to have lawyers. By law, when we have a trial for a criminal case, we must have lawyers to represent the defendant. Without the presence of lawyers, the case cannot proceed,” he said.

Newly elected BAKC president Soun Visal told The Post on October 4 that he was aware of the issue.

However, he said lawyer shortages were not a concern anymore.

“We have lawyers standing by permanently in court. We have 500 volunteer lawyers in court throughout the country . . . When a court needs a lawyer, it would notify us. We have defence lawyers to represent defendants.

“The issue would not affect legal proceedings anymore. We’ve stepped up our efforts.

“We have a mechanism in place to provide defendants with our services in a timely manner,” he said.

Visal said the BAKC also has lawyers to represent poor defendants, thanks to an annual funding of nearly $300,000 from the government.

He said there are around 5,000 cases each year in which defendants are unable to afford legal representatives.

The funding, he said, could cover around 3,000 cases.

The BAKC, he said, has held regular meetings with court officials at all levels to address the issue.

“The court provides one or two rooms for us to use [during trials]. Most of our rooms are adjacent to the courtroom,” he said.

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Yung Phanit, deputy head of the BAKC’s department of legal defence for the poor, told The Post that by law, a court must submit a request to the Justice Ministry, which then forwards the proposal to the Bar association.

He said the process can be completed through social media app Telegram.

“Now, we still follow this process. The issue of defence lawyer shortages has been reduced by 90 per cent already."

“I acknowledge the problem still exists, but only in a few cases. The fastest way to request lawyers is through Telegram,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • No ‘Crown Prince’ exists to buy France football club: ministry

    The Ministry of the Royal Palace has denied media reports that a Cambodian “Crown Prince” had purchased the AS Saint Etienne football club of France’s top-flight LIGUE 1 at the cost of €100 million ($117 million). In a press statement on September 19, the ministry stressed that Cambodia