The Justice Ministry yesterday said it has reformed the justice sector since the CPP was re-elected to lead the Kingdom in last year’s national election.
Speaking during a press conference yesterday, Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said the ministry has promoted equal rights in the judicial system and increased the quality of legal services.
Mr Malin noted that the ministry is planning to build a new courthouse in Kep province, and that a new regional Court of Appeal is going to begin operations next year.
“We are planning to establish one new court in Kep province next year,” he said, adding that construction will begin next year.
“The Justice Ministry has been building the regional Court of Appeal. Construction has reached about 80 percent and we are expecting to begin operations in 2020,” he added, noting that the new Appeal Court will cover three jurisdictions: Tboung Khmum, Battambang and Preah Sihanouk provinces.
Mr Malin said since the new government was formed, the ministry has conducted reforms and worked on establishing a new administrative court for the Kingdom.
He added that it has also increased capacity building for judges and prosecutors, and provided legal assistance to those in need.
“Throughout history, we have created new administrative courts, such as Phnom Penh Municipal Court and provincial courts, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court,” he said. “We have also modernised by developing human resources, technical skills and incorporated a computer system database to manage case files.”
“In total, we have about 500 judges and prosecutors across the Kingdom,” he added. “The ministry recruits about 50 persons annually.”
Mr Malin noted that the ministry has also done other things to improve the Kingdom’s justice system, including the provision of legal consultation, setting up a system of compromise to resolve disputes outside of courtrooms, assigning lawyers to help defend people less fortunate, creating the Justice Service Centre and cooperating with the local bar association.
“Five lawyers are on standby at courts, so when people want to file a complaint, the lawyers can help,” he said. “The lawyers can help defend people who cannot afford to hire one.”
“All the work done to reform the judicial system is in order to promote the rights of villagers,” Mr Malin added.
Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager with the human rights group Licadho, yesterday said he welcomes the government’s reform efforts, but noted that it has yet to fully gain public trust.
“We acknowledge the reforms, but we have not seen enough,” Mr Sam Ath said. “The public remains [sceptical] of the court system.”
He said that according to local and foreign rights groups, courts in Cambodia are not independent.
“The government has to avoid double standards when it comes to implementing laws,” he added. “Poor people always lose cases, while the rich and powerful always win cases.”