Despite the implementation of provisions to defend abused women and girls in 2021, the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) noted some challenges due to the lack of cooperation by relevant specialised state institutions.

The challenges include limited access to lawyers, lack of clear definition of cases and the availability of defence and compensation for victims, and weak cooperation between the prosecution and defence.

Also emanating from institutions’ inexperience, the overall challenges were raised in a May 3 meeting to review the results of the provision of defence services in 2021.

The meeting was attended by BAKC president Ly Chantola, Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, who is also president of Cambodian National Council for Women (CNCW), and Connor Floyd, Second Secretary in charge of cooperation and development of the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh.

The provisions were identified in two memoranda of understanding (MoU) between BAKC and CNCW in 2018 and 2021 to provide services to poor women and girls who have suffered violence.

“These challenges need to be addressed together, not only by our institutions, but also the ministries of Justice and Economy and Finance, the prosecution and the tribunals,” he said.

In the implementation of the second MoU, the BAKC assigned lawyers to help defend 107 cases, comprising 110 clients, including 69 young victims. A total of 163 lawyers have volunteered for the project.

Minister Kantha Phavi said the meeting was organised to reflect on good practices, resolve outstanding issues and strengthen cooperation with relevant authorities to help the victims receive justice in line with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recommendation.

“I would like to commend the results of the provision of defence services achieved in 2021 through the collaboration of CNCW and BAKC to build people’s trust in the judiciary and strengthen the rule of law in Cambodia,” she said.