Lawyers are expressing satisfaction with improved conditions for legal consultations with incarcerated clients at prisons and correctional centres across the country, thanks to the 26 recently constructed lawyer-inmate meeting rooms at those facilities.

“In the past, before there were any rooms like this available, lawyers had to meet with their clients in the presence of a large number of people, which compromised confidentiality and privacy and we couldn’t accomplish much with consultations,” said lawyer Lor Kim Ghech.

“Now, it is much easier for us to provide advice to our clients because the Bar Association got these meeting rooms built.”

Lim Chanlida, head of the legal office construction commission, said the 26 meeting rooms were all newly constructed, except for three in Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang and Preah Sihanouk province that were only renovated and upgraded.

She said Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh has more rooms than those in the provinces. In the men’s section of Prey Sar, there are three consultation rooms plus one more room in the women’s part of the prison. And at another Phnom Penh jail run by the police, known as PJ, there are also four rooms available.

She said each room is about 5m by 6m and they were built with a budget of over $165,000 donated by lawyers, judges and prosecutors, along with a $70,000 donation from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

They are generally equipped with a table, five chairs, air-conditioning, a fan and an attached restroom, but the most important things is that they provide the attorneys and their clients the ability to have private consultations, she said.

She said the idea of building these lawyer-inmate rooms was initiated by the former president of the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC).

Since their completion, the rooms have been in frequent use by lawyers and their clients. It saves the lawyer time and protects the dignity and privacy of the inmates and upholds their legal right to have confidential legal consultations.

“They provide many benefits to lawyers and their clients, who must be able to have confidential consultations in accordance with the ethics and professional code of conduct for lawyers, and so clients can put their trust and confidence in these legal consultations,” she said.