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Group Prepares Complaint Over Courts

A human rights group is preparing a lawsuit against provincial judges to the Supreme Council of Magistracy for legal wrongdoings, claiming wrongful arrests of nearly150 people in 2008.

Arrests in land disputes rose slightly from 139 in 2007 to 146 this year, even as land cases fell from 350 to 200, according to the rights group Adhoc.

Adhoc President Thun Saray told reporters Friday the arrests, including 55 imprisonments, were an “injustice.”

“The court has become an instrument for serving powerful and rich men in strongly pressuring poor and non-powerful people,” he said. “Our lawyer will complain to the court, requesting the detainees in the land disputes to be released on bail and for wrongdoing of the judges and prosecutors.”

The case, which would the first of its kind, “will make the judges shameful and end their legal wrongdoing,” Thun Saray said.

In all the cases, alleged victims had filed complaints through the proper channels, “but most of their complaints were thrown in a draw,” he said. Instead of action on the cases, “there were coercion, threats and intimidation, as well as arrests and detentions under criminal offenses.”

Cambodia has long suffered criticism of corruption and undue influence in its courts by powerful politicians and wealthy individuals, and last month a Senate legislative committee began an examination of irregularities in the courts.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vattana said Thursday the committee’s work “will help us reform in the future.”