Cambodia - annual report 2017

Visit to the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh: President You Bunleng, also National Co-Investigating Judge of the Extraordinary Chambers at the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) (4 th from left), Prof. Dr. Michael Bohlander (International CoInvestigating Judge of the Extraordinary Chambers at the Courts of Cambodia) (2 nd from left)
Visit to the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh: President You Bunleng, also National Co-Investigating Judge of the Extraordinary Chambers at the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) (4 th from left), Prof. Dr. Michael Bohlander (International CoInvestigating Judge of the Extraordinary Chambers at the Courts of Cambodia) (2 nd from left)

Legal Policy Situation

Cambodia looks back on a chequered history in which the violent Khmer Rouge regime effectively abolished the legal system, including its institutions. During the ten-year occupation by Vietnam, which lasted until 1989, a communist-type legal system was established. The peace negotiations initiated by the UN and the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops led to the restoration of the monarchy in 1993 and the adoption of a new Constitution. Since then, efforts have been made to establish and revitalise the legal and judicial system in accordance with the principles of the Constitution – democracy, fundamental rights, the rule of law and the separation of powers. However, the lack of a legal tradition, education deficits, political influence and financial shortfalls are hampering these efforts considerably.

The judicial investigation of past atrocities is being conducted before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – a tribunal incorporated into the national judicial system by Cambodia and the UN. These “Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia” are staffed by national and international judges and started their work in 2006.

Overall Concept

In the course of 2016, in cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Justice and courts, the first points of contact for judicial cooperation were identified, particularly in the field of court organisation. In November 2016 for example, a kick-off seminar was held in which judges and members of the Court of Appeal, the presidents of all courts of first instance, members of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the legal profession as well as employees of the Ministry of Justice took part. After evaluating the seminar´s results, the following workshops dealt with the practice of solving cases with different groups of law practitioners, taking into account the relevant legal provisions and previous experience. The activities focused on the main criminal proceedings and resulted in a detailed court case flow chart. This will provide support in making case processing more consistent and standardised. At the same time, the long-term goal of implementing an electronic system in court in this field has come a step closer.

Foci of Activity 2017

Administration of Justice

  • Seminar on methods of legal case resolution for different legal practitioners in Phnom Penh
  • Exchange and training on legal case handling methodology with the Ministry of Justice Department responsible for court organisation, first instance judges and judicial staff in Phnom Penh
  • Workshops on the legal case handling methodology with the legal practitioners in the Pilot Court (Phnom Penh District Court) and the responsible authorities at the Ministry of Justice for the final documentation of the proceedings in the main criminal proceedings in Phnom Penh

Outlook

The cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for court organisation, will be continued on the basis of the results to date. The intention of the Cambodian partners to modernise the judiciary with IT-supported modules and the open-mindedness of the legal practitioners provide a welcome basis for this.