Ministry of Justice Seeks to Reduce Judicial Congestion

Newly-appointed Justice Minister Kuet Rith launched a campaign to reduce prison overcrowding on May 18, 2020. Photo: Cambodianess.

The wheels of justice turns too slowly in Cambodia and newly-appointed Justice Minister Kuet Rith is gearing up to tackle inefficiency in court hearings.

The Ministry of Justice on Monday launched a campaign to “resolve the case of congestion at the municipal and provincial courts.”

Newly-appointed Justice Minister Kuet Rith said that the aim of that campaign is to accelerate Cambodians’ access to justice and to improve the judiciary's services to citizens. This will also contribute to the reduction of prison overcrowding he added.

This comes just a week after Amnesty International published a report highlighting the consequences of overcrowding in prisons, which it linked to Cambodia’s hardline approach towards drug offences. 

Rith warned that he will show no mercies to judges, prosecutors and clerks, who engage in corrupt acts or seek to benefit personally from the campaign to improve efficiency in Cambodia’s courts.  

The Justice Ministry will work with the Anti-Corruption Unit to fight corruption cases with those suspected of corruption will face eviction from the framework, he warned. 

“We will not allow anyone to take advantage and profit from illegal activities or apply their own self-interest to the campaign. In this approach, we have to have a heightened sense of responsibility for our professionalism—if judges, prosecutors, and clerks are linked to crimes, they will face both legal and professional consequences,” he said. 

The justice minister noted that prosecutors rarely used indictments for misdemeanors, either through direct trial or immediate appearance, but they often use the prosecution of such types of offenses through the opening of the inquiry, which has resulted in a substantial increase of interrogation cases and has slowed down the entire judicial process.

Rith went on to conclude that the ministry’s target is to reduce court case congestion between 50 to 70 percent in the next six to nine months, although he noted that this required a concerted effort and goodwill from all stakeholders.

According to the ministry's report, there were 39,152 criminal cases in the municipal and provincial courts at present.  

 


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