Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prison death highlights need for judicial reform

Prison death highlights need for judicial reform

Prison death highlights need for judicial reform

Dear Editor,

I appreciate appealing for a thorough investigation by UN representatives into the death of Heng Touch ("UN representatives call for investigation into prison death", November 27).

This case is not the first one of impunity to happen in Cambodia. Legal frailty is strongly rooted in Cambodia and it has gradually become the "culture of impunity".      

Since 1993, administrative and judicial reform has been one of the priorities of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC). After the Untac-sponsored election, the UN and other international stakeholders have utilised the carrot-and-stick tactic to speed up the reforms in Cambodia.

On one hand, they have urged the RGC to accelerate reforms with soft and hard pressure, while on the other hand, they still keep providing funds to develop various projects run by the government. But we can see that the writing of  laws has become the only result of their efforts, while implementation [of these laws] is still slack.

The RGC has to achieve its obligation in the Cambodian Constitution, as well as the treaties that  it has signed with foreign donors to pursue good governance, decentralisation, curbing of corruption and strengthening of the rule of law.

I admire the RGC's "Strategic Plan for Sustainable Development of Cambodia", otherwise  named the "Triangular Plan", "Rectangular Plan" and "Millennium Development Goals of Cambodia".

Each strategic plan well describes the willingness to reform the legal system, particularly the national court and judiciary. The fourth mandate of RGC is going to carry out the same strategic plan with little adjustment for its next five years in power, and I wish that this good plan should not exist solely on paper.

The question of Heng Touch dying as the prisoner is relevant to the issue of the RGC's achievements in legal reform and ongoing impunity in Cambodia.

This single case has drawn our attention to many other victims savaged by the hidden and rarely-punished perpetrators. Politicians, actresses, popular singers, Buddhist monks, unionists and ordinary people who have been devastated or even murdered have been waiting for the day when this culture of impunity will be eliminated.

The UN, as well as foreign donors and the Cambodian people, is eagerly looking forward to seeing the complete achievement of judicial reform in Cambodia.

Sophan Seng

PhD student in political science

University of Hawaii at Manoa

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa