Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Over 100 lawyers assigned to help with case backlogs

Over 100 lawyers assigned to help with case backlogs

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Justice Minister Keut Rith sent a list of 124 new volunteer lawyers to be stationed at municipal and provincial courts. Justice Ministry

Over 100 lawyers assigned to help with case backlogs

Minister of Justice Keut Rith on Thursday sent a list of 124 volunteer lawyers to be stationed at Phnom Penh municipal and provincial courts to defend mandatory cases free of charge.

The move is part of a campaign to clear case backlog by the end of the year.

Rith sent the names to provincial court directors and prosecutors. He said the procurement was meant to address a lack of defence lawyers.

Justice ministry spokesman Chin Malin said on Thursday the 124 volunteer lawyers will take part in the campaign by defending cases.

“These lawyers are new. We assigned them as volunteer lawyers to help with the ministry’s campaign,” he said.

Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP) director Sok Sam Oeun said on Thursday there are not enough lawyers to handle cases. The courts have to tell defendants about the lack of lawyers and ask if the court needs to assign one.

“Lawyers are not only required to be present at a hearing. The important point is that lawyers have to defend cases,” he said.

Volunteer lawyer Thuon Sothea, who was assigned to defend cases at the Koh Kong Provincial Court, said the principle of the campaign is that volunteer lawyers listen to guidance from senior leadership at the justice ministry.

“We are just volunteer lawyers. As seen in the letter, we wait to follow the guidance of the leadership,” he said.

Soeung Sen Karuna, a senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, said on Thursday that assigning a new group of lawyers to help clear the backlog of cases is a positive development.

But as a civil society organisation representative, he called on the lawyers to defend cases for clients properly.

“They should not have lawyers to just do perfunctory work according to procedures. We want these lawyers to do whatever it takes to work professionally and carry out their duties properly to protect the interests of clients to get justice,” he said.

Rith announced the campaign on May 18 after it was found there was a backlog of 39,152 criminal cases at Phnom Penh municipal and provincial courts.

He said he expected the backlog would be reduced by 50 to 70 per cent within six months.

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement