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New Justice Minister vows reforms and speedier trial procedures

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Interior Minister Sar Kheng hands stamp to newly appointed Justice Minister Keut Rith. KT/Siv Channa

Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday urged newly appointed Justice Minister Keut Rith to improve the judiciary and expedite resolution of pending cases to boost the public’s confidence towards the country’s judicial system.

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Speaking during the oathtaking ceremony at the Justice Ministry, Mr Kheng said: “There are about 20,000 detainees whose cases have yet to be resolved. The ministry has to speed up the process of dealing with these cases.”

The country, he said, currently has 38,990 detainees in prisons nationwide. Of these, only 11,097 have been convicted.

Included in Mr Kheng’s recommendations toward the Justice Ministry are building capacities of law enforcers, raising public confidence and strengthening implementation of the law to combat injustice.

In response, newly appointed Justice Minister Keut Rith yesterday gave his commitment to improve administration of the law in the Kingdom.

“On behalf of the Justice Ministry, I vow to be truthful to the King and the nation. I will also commit efforts to improve the judiciary by promoting prompt provision of justice to gain the public’s trust,” said Mr Rith.

The National Assembly on Monday approved Prime Minister Hun Sen’s proposed Cabinet reshuffle, which sought to increase productivity and efficiency in the government. The shake up included the election of Mr Rith as the new Justice Minister in place of Ang Vong Vathana, who was subsequently promoted as senior minister.

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin yesterday said the ministry next week will launch a six-month campaign geared towards expediting resolution of open cases stuck at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, 70 percent of which are drug-related.

“There are about 10,000 cases lodged at the municipal court every year,” Mr Malin noted at a press conference last week. The six-month campaign, he said, will include the “mobile court” or the reassignment of judges as well as the transfer of cases to provincial courts.

Spokesman for right group Adhoc Soeung Sen Karuna yesterday said the Kingdom’s judiciary has long been criticised by the public, primarily due to issues of corruption.

“I think if the Ministry of Justice shows true willingness to reform the system, then they will gain the public’s confidence. The public has criticised the judicial system on many occasions saying the system is rigged and biased,” he said.

“The ministry has to review cases of corruption and nepotism cited in the judiciary and must take serious action against those found to be guilty of such acts,” added Mr Sen Karuna.

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