The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has refused to supervise the upcoming exam for new judges organized by the Royal Academy for Judicial Professions (RAJP), claiming that the RAJP “lacks the will” to work with them on fighting against widespread judicial corruption.
This follows a report this summer released by an international bar association which claimed Cambodia’s judicial system lacked political independence and had some of the most corrupt and malfeasant judges in the world.
In his letter addressed to the RAJP, Om Yentieng, the ACU president, said:
“The ACU has declined to participate as observers in the 7th exam to recruit judges, organized by RAJP. The reason is that RAJP lacks the will to really cooperate with the ACU in terms of fighting corruption.”
Chin Malin, spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, told Khmer Times:
“It would be a mistake or a misunderstanding that the ACU said the RAJP is lacking the will to cooperate with them to fight against corruption.
“To solve this problem, our Ministry will set up a joint committee to talk with the ACU in order to find out the misunderstanding between them. We will address the difference between the RAJP and the ACU to make cooperation smoother in the future,” added Mr. Malin.
According to Mr. Malin, the Ministry of Justice has closely cooperated with the ACU to fight against fraud, with the ministry handling the trials and the ACU tackling the investigations themselves.
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International, an NGO whose main task is to fight corruption, told Khmer Times that if the government wanted to fairly recruit capable future judges and prevent corruption from happening, it should increase salaries for all court staff, including judges, prosecutors and clerks.
“They should also publish and implement a clear and transparent mechanism for the recruitment and appointment of judicial officials,” he added. “Also [it should] ensure that judges are objectively recruited through an independent appointment body. This will ensure that the highest quality candidates are selected and that they do not feel indebted to the particular politicians or senior judge who appointed them.”