Prime Minister Hun Sen has tasked the government’s Lawyers Council president to form a legal team under his direct supervision to provide free legal aid to poverty-stricken women in the Kingdom.
Council president Ky Tech yesterday said the team is known as ‘Samdech Hun Sen Legal Team’ and will consists of 30 lawyers, the majority of whom are to be women.
“The main purpose of the team is to assist poor and unfortunate women who cannot afford to pay for legal services when they suffer harm or abuse,” Mr Tech said. “The team is also tasked with monitoring if a judge has made the right decision in cases involving vulnerable women.”
Mr Tech said the legal team will comprise of volunteers and its members will be vetted based on their abilities and capacities.
“The team will be set up on a voluntary basis so members will not be paid a salary or become civil servants,” he said. “However, Prime Minister Hun Sen will offer a budget on his own to ensure the operation and administration of the team.”
Mr Tech noted that the legal team will only provide free support to impoverished women who carry a social welfare card to prove their status.
Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin yesterday said the ‘Samdech Hun Sen Legal Team’ will further push for better law enforcement, as part of the ministry’s legal reform.
“The team will definitely bring more positive outcomes to the current legal reform,” he said. “We are now gathering cases of women who were violated or abused in order to request the court to speed up their trials.”
Mr Hun Sen on Monday instructed the Interior and Justice Ministries to continue cooperation in order to ensure justice for all relevant parties. He also suggested that courts speed up the proceedings in cases involving women and children.
Ros Sopheap, executive director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, welcomed the government’s move to create the legal team for poverty-stricken women, noting that women and children are vulnerable groups that require the most protection.
“Women in rural areas are the ones who suffer abuses and violations, which the government should be aware of,” she said. “The problems affecting women the most are human trafficking, sexual violence, violation of their freedom of expression and safety.”
Ms Sopheap called on the government to instruct local authorities to prevent crimes and violation against women and children.
In August last year, Mr Hun Sen also instructed the Bar Association of Cambodia to engage lawyers in the provinces and some rural areas across the country to provide free legal assistance to poor people.
According to Mr Tech, the move brought fruitful results in facilitating judicial services and addressing the problem of overcrowded prisons.