The Ministry of Justice is set to sign memorandums of understanding (MoU) with Oxfam Cambodia and the Women Peace Makers on projects that would strengthen its mechanisms and implement sub-national mediation to reduce a backlog of court cases and improve access to judicial services.

In a March 4 press release, the ministry said the signing of the MoU with Oxfam Cambodia on March 7 would secure financial assistance on three projects.

The first project is to prepare and develop legal documents which will define the minimum standards for mediators as sub-national civil servants and their code of ethics. Operational manuals for legislative offices and local dispute mediation would also be drawn up.

The second focuses on instruction on legal standards and administrative practices for the target capital and provinces at the former 10 justice service centres – Phnom Penh, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Kampot, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Prey Veng, Siem Reap, Mondulkiri and Ratanakkiri.

The third will provide mediation training for officials of the legislation office in Kampong Thom province.

The MoU with the Women Peace Makers will provide general advisory assistance and technical support for projects that will improve the implementation of mediation at the national and sub-national levels.

It said the projects included establishing standards of professional recognition for mediators; preparation of a national mediation policy; the training of mediation instructors and any other tasks that would strengthen mediation mechanisms and the skills of mediators.

Ministry spokesman Chin Malin told The Post on March 6 that the signing of the MoUs would help to establish extra-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms at the local level. Judicial reform through expanding services and increasing ease of access to the public was a priority goal for the ministry.

“Secondly, extra-judicial mediation will create harmony and aid the progression of the safe village-commune policy. If people have a dispute, they can solve it peacefully and find a mutual understanding. They will live in harmony at the local level,” he said.

He added that the project also aims to address a backlog of court cases – as a large number of disputes were civil minor ones which could be solved at the local level. There was no need for them to progress to the courts as their resources were already stretched to the limit.

“This will increase the efficiency of addressing court cases and reduce the backlogs,” he said.