Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Women lack full rights at Appeal Court




Women lack full rights at Appeal Court

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Female activists from the Boeung Kak lake community arrive at the capital’s Appeal Court for a hearing in June 2012. The Cambodian Center for Human Rights has released a report noting observations about how women are treated by the Kingdom’s judiciary. Pha Lina

Women lack full rights at Appeal Court

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) has released an observational report on the rights of woman defendant’s at the Appeal Court, claiming that many weren’t granted due process.

Having monitors attend 453 trials from December 2016 to June this year, CCHR found that there were 76 cases that involved a total of 97 women.

Of the number, the report found 28 per cent did not appear at their hearings, in many cases because of a lack of communication between the Appeal Court and the detention centre.

Additionally, 26 per cent of the women weren’t represented by a lawyer, while 14 per cent appeared in court wearing their prison uniforms, which the report says is “contrary to the presumption of innocence”.

Nine of the women weren’t told about their right to a fair trial, while 13 per cent were not informed of their right to a defence lawyer.

In 70 per cent of the cases, women were not told about their right to remain silent. This right was only clearly explained to five per cent of women.

CCHR said that there has been no clear mechanism to protect woman defendants due to the shortage of women working in the judicial system compared with men.

Between 2013 and 2017, CCHR found that the number of women in the judiciary had barely changed, as only 14 per cent of all judges,12 per cent of prosecutors, 22 per cent of court clerks and 20 per cent of lawyers were women.

“Such inequality in accessing judicial professions has a significant impact on women defendants, victims and witnesses. It contributes to a hostile environment where victims of abuse or sexual violence are often re-traumatised or blamed,” the report said.

CCHR urged the government to review its legal aid policy to ensure equal access to justice and legal representation for women.

It said the Ministry of Interior should follow the best practices of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in terms of witness and victim protection.

Another recommendation it gave was for the Kingdom to adopt legislation aimed at protecting the rights of victims of gender-based violence, especially focusing on legal and psychological support.

It stated that training in gender-specific issues should also take place for judicial actors.

Hun Seanghak, CCHR’s Fair Trial Monitoring Project coordinator could not be reached for comment. Touch Tharith, the Appeal Court spokesperson, said he hasn’t yet seen the report.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said on Thursday that he would review the report to see what methodology was used. He said the ministry will reform according to what it finds to be true.

“On behalf of an institution that is in charge of judicial system reform, we will review the report carefully and we may meet [with CCHR] in person to let them explain some issues that they have found regarding the rights of women defendants,” Malin said.

Nonetheless, he questioned the methodology that was used. “If they just have a monitor to sit at the appeal court, and that person has a table and ticked one, two, three … then we have reason to be suspicious of their assessment methodology,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,