Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Magistracy meet calls for order in the court

Magistracy meet calls for order in the court

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana speaks in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. Yesterday, he called for Cambodia’s judges to behave more responsibly to prevent citizens from losing faith in the judiciary.
Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana speaks in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. Yesterday, he called for Cambodia’s judges to behave more responsibly to prevent citizens from losing faith in the judiciary. Heng Chivoan

Magistracy meet calls for order in the court

Judge and prosecutors were called to a two-day workshop to address the sector’s pervasive ethics challenges, but legal experts said change could not occur until there were concrete rules, instead of vague moral guidelines.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vattana said that while some members of the judiciary acted professionally, others “forget their ethics that light the path”.

The workshop, run by the Supreme Council of Magistracy and the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, came just a day after it was reported Prime Minister Hun Sen told provincial authorities in Banteay Menchey to disregard a ruling by the Supreme Court.

Vattana cited problems such as judges interrupting cases to answer their phone and ignoring their responsibilities by allowing clerks to issue warrants without oversight.

“These factors make justice weaker, and we are losing trust from the public,” he said.

While Vattana said judges “must not commit any inappropriate action that violates the law and our social morality”, legal expert Sok Sam Oeun called for judges’ ethics to be defined in detail.

Oeun acknowledged it was widely believed that huge bribes were paid for judgeships, but denied it was the reality.

“It’s only rumour, but all the time [it is said] there are many students who apply for the judiciary exam to be a judge, but the poor people have no hope,” he said.

He called for a “clear and detailed code of ethics” that took bad behaviour out of the realm of morals and made unethical acts punishable by law. “It is too vague . . . they should make a strengthened mechanism and a special court to discipline judges and prosecutors.”

Ith Rady, a member of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, said an “addiction” to entertainment venues and heavy drinking that saw judges oversleep and miss their scheduled court proceedings was a major issue, adding that legal professionals were seen at times fraternising with plaintiffs or defendants.

He said last year there had been 100 complaints brought against the judiciary for their decisions.

While Rady dodged questions about political pressure on the courts, saying “influence on this side or that side” was “unavoidable”, Oeun pointed to his own case record.

“I defend many political cases but never win. But 80 per cent of the private cases, I win. I cannot say anything [about political influence], but there is this kind of data,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10