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Group: 'Charade' of Justice Needs Monitor

A prominent rights group said Monday the courts in Cambodia had failed and called on the international community to help establish a monitoring body to fix them.

In a special report, "Human Rights in Cambodia: The Charade of Justice," Licadho said that despite Untac intervention and 15 years of aid, the courts remained agents for the protection of the interests of the rich and powerful and for the prosecution of political opponents and government critics.

"The Cambodian government's claims to making progress in reforms need to be judged by the actual actions of the courts on a daily basis," Licadho said in the report

The group appealed to donors to establish an independent commission of international experts and Cambodians to monitor the court system, including municipal, provincial and military courts.

Licadho founder Kek Galabru said she had not received a response from donors since the report was issued.

"We hope that they will take the recommendations into account, especially when the meeting between the donors and the government comes," she said.

Yoshimatsu Kaori, third secretary at the Japanese Embassy, said she has not yet seen the report.

"Regarding the judicial system in Cambodia, the Japanese government always pays attention to this, because the rule of law is one of the most important aspects of a country," she said. "We hope that the court and judicial system in Cambodia will be strengthened step by step."

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vatana could not be reached for comment Monday.

Ngin Sam An, investigating judge and deputy chief of the military court, and Phnom Penh Municipal Court Chief Chiv Keng declined to comment Monday.