A Justice Ministry official yesterday said the construction of two provincial courts of appeal in Battambang and Tbong Khmum provinces has been accelerated, noting they are set to be completed by 2020 to facilitate judicial services and address the problem of overcrowded prisons.
Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin yesterday said the two provincial appeal courts would also expand judicial services to neighbouring provinces to speed up the appeal process, help people reduce travel expenses and reduce the number of prisoners awaiting trial.
“I think the construction of the two appeal courts will be completed next year,” he said. “The two upper courts will provide convenience to citizens wanting to appeal and will also address the Kingdom’s growing problem of overcrowded prisons.”
Mr Malin said the government plans to create seven courts of appeal in the provinces in order to provide convenience to citizens, noting that the construction of a provincial court of appeal in Preah Sihanouk province is now also halfway completed.
He noted that currently, the Kingdom only has one Court of Appeal located in Phnom Penh, making it difficult for provincial residents to access court services.
In a bid to assist judicial services, Ky Tech, a government lawyer, yesterday said the government has increased its budget to $250,000 this year for the bar association to provide free legal services for the poor.
“The bar association and the Justice Ministry will soon set up a legal office in each province close to the provincial court,” he said. “Poor people can seek free legal services and they do not have to travel to Phnom Penh.”
According to Lieutenant General Por Pheak, director-general of the Interior Ministry’s general secretariat, the prison population reached 31,686 prisoners last year, with more than 10,000 of the inmates locked up in pre-trial detention.