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Center Finds Numerous Abuses in Courts Survey

The Center for Social Development condemned Wednesday numerous defendant rights violations in Cambodia's notoriously weak courts, after a lengthy survey of six, including the Appeals and Supreme courts.

Hearings in absentia or without due process were common, according to the Center, which also helps educate people on the impending Khmer Rouge tribunal.

A high percentage of accused were tried in absentia in the six courts, but the Appeals Court was the worst, where 69 percent of defendants were absent for their hearings, said Ang Udon, head of the Center's legal division.

The Center monitored Phnom Penh Municipal Court and the provincial courts of Kandal, Kampong Cham and Battambang, as well as the Appeals and Supreme courts, finding overall that 34 percent of defendants were tried in absentia.

"We monitored these courts, and these are the numbers we got," Ang Udon said. "We are very concerned because these violations continue."

Some defendants were not provided interpreters, and sometimes alleged victims of crimes were not present for a defendant's hearing, he said.