Cambodia : Battambang Province - Access to justice for all and protection of the poorest
Avocats Sans Frontières France launched a project in Cambodia - in the Battambang province - inspired by its previous experiences and success in the region.
Not only has Avocats Sans Frontières France led several projects aimed at the Rule of Law reinforcement, lawyers/jurists’ education development, free legal aid provision, but it also was directly involved in proceedings before the Extraordinary Chambers of the Cambodian Courts.
All these activities met with great success, enabling the entire Cambodian population to benefit from positive dynamics of the change until 2012.These activities strengthened the Rule of Law by providing trainings for lawyers and magistrates and by setting up a legal aid program in 20 provinces.
However, with a budget of USD$75 000 for the governmental legal aid and 837 lawyers who are mainly based in the capital, the access to justice and legal aid remains a priority for the country particularly in Battambang’s province. Therefore a new program was launched in Battambang Province in October 2015.
- This program aims at :
►strengthening the Rule of Law;
►facilitating access to rights and justice for the litigants of Battambang’s province and particularly for the poorest.
- In order to do so, the program will focus on improving the defence of the defendants that do not have a lawyer due to a lack of ressources (in criminal cases).
3 main activities are led as part of the project and undertaken by a team of 2 lawyers:
► Reception by the program lawyers - in their office at the court- of the persons wishing to obtain free legal advice. The topics dealt with by the lawyers are various and can concern land, divorce or even labor law issues (from Monday to Thursday).
► Defence an approximate amount of twenty criminal cases per month.
This activity allows us to support the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia legal aid program and to give access to justice to the most vulnerable.
The cases which have been pending for trial for months are treated in priority in order to reduce - when possible - the imprisonment time.
►Workshops to raise awareness of the rights/ law among the population and the most vulnerable.
This is planned in cooperation with local NGOs and communities.
* Result 1:
> In the Battambang province, individuals will have benefited from free legal advice
> At the end of the program, individuals especially the poorest will have received appropriate legal advice and will be able to assert their rights in front of the provincial courts.
>The program will allow the poorest to access the justice and will strengthen the rule of law, while encouraging people’s confidence in justice.
>In addition, the implementation of this program and its success will attract the attention on the need to address the remaining gaps in the Cambodian legal system, especially in regard to access to justice and legal aid.
>Optimization of the defence of criminal records in Battambang province,
>In the course of the project, between 400 and 500 criminal cases will be processed.
>In addition to the direct beneficiaries, this project will encourage the decongestion of the court, faster processing of criminal cases and thus decrease in the length of pretrial detentions.
This project is still ongoing. Results will be published when the project will be completed.