Ministry to clear case backlog

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin announced a plan to clear some 10,000 court cases. Hong Menea

The Ministry of Justice plans to launch a six-month campaign to clear a backlog of some 10,000 court cases, of which 70 per cent involve drug crimes, said Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin.

He was speaking at a press conference on the ministry’s progress, goal setting and action plans held by the Government Spokespersons Unit at the Office of the Council of Ministers.

Malin said: “The Minister of Justice [Ang Vong Vathana] met for talks with the court chiefs and prosecutors and introduced measures approved already by Samdech Techo Hun Sen.

“The minister will launch a campaign that is to be implemented for six months. The six-month campaign aims to clear a backlog of old cases in the courts.”

He said a backlog of such cases grew after Cambodia implemented measures to crack down on crimes.

“The Phnom Penh Municipal Court is now facing a backlog of cases. This has been compounded by overcrowding in prisons caused by [the government] launching a campaign to crack down on drugs.

“So, cases will increase further, which is why we need to clear the backlog urgently and without waiting any longer.”

While details of the campaign will be announced in the near future by the minister, Malin briefly said that it would begin as a trial run in Phnom Penh, which has the highest backlog of cases in the Kingdom. If the trial run is successful, the ministry will implement it nationwide.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Kuch Kimlong told The Post on Thursday that he has no comments on the planned campaign, as the municipal court has not been briefed on it either.

He said: “The ministry is the one to make such decisions regarding the campaign. On our part, the municipal court has not been briefed on the plan, so we cannot comment for the moment.”

Lawyer Sok Samoeun who has his law practice in Phnom Penh said he was not aware of the measures that would be implemented.

However, he said the problems that contributed to having backlogs of cases were procedural complexities in the court system, and this requires change.

He said the roles of judges also need to be clearly defined to investigative or presiding judges, and should not be intertwined.

“Judges are very busy people, so perhaps the procedures must be reviewed. If they are complicated, we can shorten them,” he said.