The Justice Ministry plans to draft a law on compensation for people wrongly imprisoned by court officials, a ministry spokesman said yesterday.
In a dialogue organised by Khmer Times and streamed live on Facebook yesterday, Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said current laws stipulate punishment and disciplinary sanctions for court officials who make wrong judgements, but fail to require compensation for the wrongly convicted.
Mr Malin said the country’s current laws mete out punishment for both ordinary citizens and court officials who violate the law.
“Although prisoners are found not guilty afterwards, their honour and reputation has been ruined,” Mr Malin said. “What if they are imprisoned up to three or four years? It has affected their income. The court should compensate them, but we do not have such a law, and all we can do is release them.”
He said the ministry is now conducting a study, taking examples from various foreign countries, to draft a law on compensation for people wrongly convicted.
“It will be a complicated to calculate what they should get,” he said. “No amount of money can restore their honour and reputation. What if they lose their jobs or families? What should compensation be?”
“So, our working group is now debating all these matters and we will see what we can come up with,” Mr Malin added.
Ham Phea, director of Glory Legal, said a law on compensation for those who are wrongly imprisoned is very crucial.
“I have witnessed many cases of injustice. I think we should have this type of law,” he said. “If a judge makes a wrong decision to imprison an innocent person, the court must make up for what it has done. By doing so, people will trust the judicial system.”
Mr Phea said the government should earmark an amount of the national budget for this type of compensation.
On Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen asked the Bar Association of Cambodia to assign its lawyers to provinces and rural areas across the country to aid the poor stuck in court cases.
He also said he was increasing annual funding from $225,000 to $250,000 for the association next year.