Sunday, September 20, 2009

Civil Society and the Opposition Party Support Action to Create a Working Group to Reinvestigate Criminal Cases – Thursday, 17.9.2009 Posted on 18 Sep

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 630


In view of the content of the article, the headline might be more precisely describing the content if it were to say:

One Civil Society Senior Staff and the Spokesperson of one Opposition Party Support Action to Create a Working Group to Reinvestigate Criminal Cases

There are also critical voices with a civil society background, as well as other voices from the opposition party quoted here, who expressed concern about the role of the special working group mentioned here: Does it infringe on the independence of the courts – well aware that some court actions have triggered the problem? They express the opinion that only a reform of the court system itself may bring lasting results.

“Phnom Penh: An opposition party parliamentarian and a civil society organization support the head of the government creating a mixed working group to work on criminal cases at different irregular law implementation units.

“Recently, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, released a decision dated 4 September 2009 to create a mixed working group to examine and take action on criminal cases at different law implementation units; the working group has 26 members from different sections of the government.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak, could not be reached for comment, as he was busy with meetings, but he had told journalists that the newly created working group will reinvestigate some cases suspected to be handled improperly. He added that previously, police had arrested suspects and sent them to court, but some court officials had released them, claiming a lack of evidence.

“Also, Mr. Khieu Sopheak mentioned the [acid attack] case related to Ms. Chea Ratha [and her accomplices] where [investigating] officers had worked very hard, but the court released them.

“An investigating official of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO], Mr. Oum Sam Ath, told Kampuchea Thmey on 16 September 2009 that it is time that the government reforms the judicial system, especially the court system.

“He added that the head of the Royal Government created this mixed working group because there had been some irregularities at the courts, and the group aims at investigating some irregular cases. He believes that it is part of a reform for the judicial system which ensures court transparency, to provide justice for victims and for the people in general. Also, if the working group can find irregularities and mishandlings of some judges and prosecutors, it will file complaints to the Supreme Council of the Magistracy to take action.

“Mr. Oum Sam Ath went on to say regarding Ms. Chea Ratha’s case, that after the court announced a verdict on 31 August 2009 to withdraw charges against her, the victims fear and hide themselves until now. Mr. Oum Sam Ath considers this case to be irregular, and it needs to be reinvestigated by the working group.

“Mr. Oum Sam Ath added that there are many cases that need to be reinvestigated like the case of Ms. Chea Ratha and of Mr. Born Samnang and Mr. Sok Sam Oeun. He said if the government takes action on those irregular cases, impunity will not continue.

“The Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian and spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Yim Sovann, said, ‘The whole court system needs reform, especially relating to judges, and we praise judges who work properly, but judges who do wrong should be punished. Particularly, we need conditions for judges to check and monitor the work of judges so as to have long lasting solutions.’

“Some other police officials who asked not to be named welcome the decision of the head of the Royal government, considering it as a good measure.

“The decision of the head of the Royal Government stated that the working group has the duty to check criminal, human trafficking, and sex exploitation cases, and the actions taken by justice police units, prosecutors, courts, and prisons. If necessary, related case files can be copied for inspection and analysis, to evaluate the actions taken in each case. If any irregularities are found, there have to be reports sent for evaluation by the Minister of Interior, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Justice to take further action. In any instance of case files involving serious problems or complications, they must be reported to the head of the government for review and recommendation. The working group has to make reports, tallying the results, and send them to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Defense, and the Minister of Justice. The working group has the authority to involve other expert officials when necessary.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2051, 17.9.2009
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Thursday, 17 September 2009

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