The Cambodia Human Rights Committee has established a team of lawyers to provide free legal advice to the public via mobile phones.
A press statement obtained yesterday said the team consists of 37 lawyers and volunteer legal experts. They are divided into seven groups to stand by daily to provide advice to callers facing legal problems.
“CHRC formed the group in a bid to promote the right to justice for all Cambodian people, and to ease the difficulty that any individual might have,” the statement said. “More importantly, the legal advice will be given speedily via phone calls,”.
“CHRC’s lawyers are pleased and ready to provide free legal advice and consultations to the public at any time after this announcement,” it added.
Chin Malin, CHRC spokesman, yesterday said people no longer need to show up at its office for face-to-face free legal consultation, adding that the lawyers are experts in all aspects of the laws.
He stressed that the team was set up on a voluntary basis and members will not be paid a salary or become civil servants, noting that the team will operate under a budget from CHRC.
“The team offers advice on all sorts of disputes, including labour rights, criminal and civil cases, land conflict, family violence and other problems,” he noted.
Mr Malin also said that an individual could make a request to CHRC for free legal aid if they meet with the requirements and conditions, noting that poverty-stricken people facing human rights violations are greatly encouraged to contact CHRC.
Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun yesterday lauded the initiative of offering free legal advice via mobile phones, but noted that the mechanism must be strictly implemented with transparency in order to ensure its efficiency.
“It is another choice, which will of course help people to understand law enforcement,” he noted.
Sek Sophorn, the lawyer for Cambodia Centre for Independent Media, yesterday expressed concern over the protection of an individual’s confidentiality in case the phone call is being recorded.
“All lawyers must guarantee that the individual’s personal issue is confidential. I wonder why it is being done via mobile phone when their conversations can being recorded,” he said. “I don’t really support the move because although it aims to help poor people it lacks the mechanisms to protect them.”
In February, Prime Minister Hun Sen tasked the government’s Lawyers Council president Ky Tech to form a legal team under his direct supervision and budget to provide free legal aid to impoverished women in the Kingdom.
Mr Tech could not be reached for comment on the team’s progress.