King Norodom Sihamoni has issued a royal decree ordering the opening of three regional appeal courts in Preah Sihanouk, Battambang and Tbong Khmum provinces.
Their establishment serve to provide access to regional courts for all citizens’ and improve the speed and efficiency of the appeals process.
Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin told The Post on Wednesday that the King ordered the courts to begin functioning on April 1. He said this is the first stage in the government’s project to establish seven regional appeal courts in target provinces across the country.
“The establishment of the new regional appeal courts serves to ease the people’s difficulty in travelling and allow the continuation of appeals without having to travel to Phnom Penh.
“In the past, citizens in provinces in the fringes of Cambodia have had difficulty reaching the capital. Therefore we have established the regional appeal courts which will both advance the provision of justice closer to them and save their time and money,” he said.
The royal decree on putting the regional Appeal Courts in motion said the three regional appeal courts would begin their operations from April 1.
“The regional appeal courts will have the capacity to hear cases within their jurisdictions from April 1, onwards.
“Cases under the jurisdiction of the regional appeal courts, but which were received by the Phnom Penh Appeals Court before April 1 will be heard in the Phnom Penh Appeal Court.
“The Phnom Penh Appeal Court will still process cases in compliance with the law and the regulation in place.
“The Phnom Penh Appeal Court will apply the rules stipulated in the article to the regional appeal court prosecutors,” the royal decree said.
The royal decree said that should circumstances arise in which a regional appeal court could not process cases within its jurisdiction, the cases would fall under the jurisdiction of the Phnom Penh Appeal Court.
In this case, the Minister of Justice would have to issue an announcement determining the inability of the regional appeal courts to process the case.
“If any regional appeal court does not have the capacity or otherwise to deal with a case, the chief of that regional appeal court has to request that the Minister of Justice assign a judge from another appeal court to hear the case.
“Each regional appeal court covers four or five provinces. Therefore, citizens can file a complaint with the regional appeal court where they are located.
“The regional appeal courts will also help clear a backlog of cases due to the expansion,” Malin said, adding that the Ministry of Justice had already fully staffed the appeal courts.
The royal decree continued by saying that the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Appeal Court would be located in the province and have jurisdiction covering Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong, Kampot and Kep provinces.
The Battambang Provincial Appeal Court will have jurisdiction covering Battambang, Pursat, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Siem Reap provinces.
The Tbong Khmum Provincial Appeal Court will have jurisdiction covering Tbong Khmum, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kratie, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces.
The royal decree said that the Phnom Penh Appeal Court had the competence to hear a case under its jurisdiction covering the capital, Kandal, Kampong Chhnang, Kamong Speu, Takeo, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces.
All courts had jurisdiction over their areas except in any case that the law passed competence to other courts.