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Hun Sen Recommends Using Hotels to Speed Up Court Cases Involving Incarcerated Women

FILE - Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen delivers a speech during a groundbreaking ceremony to build the country's first expressway, in Kampong Speu province, south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, March 22, 2019.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said he wanted to speed up criminal cases involving incarcerated women, by possibly renting hotel rooms to accelerate the pace of these hearings.

The suggestion was made on the prime minister’s official Facebook page on Monday, where he said the around 20,000 outstanding cases involving women should be expedited asking the relevant ministries to find solutions to the problem. The prime minister was speaking at Cambodian National Council for Women.

“Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] has asked the Ministry of Justice to speed up this work, which is now more than 20,000 cases of women who have not been tried,” read the post.

“So, there must be a quick response to work on the cases, and if there is the lack of courtrooms, Samdech Techo said that the hotel could be rented for hearing the cases.”

Justice Ministry spokesperson Chin Malin said authorities were working to solve these cases and the ministry could use locations other than the court to have trial hearings.

“So, to rent different places to open trials is good, which we can consider it because it’s not harmful to the proceedings and the legal principles. The law allows us to use other locations for opening trial if there is limitation at the Court of First Instance,” he said.

A Licadho statement issued on Tuesday, dealing with a similar issue, said there were currently 103 children and 43 pregnant women incarcerated in 18 prisons across the country.

Last year, the prime minister had directed a legal team to help incarcerated women with legal representation. At the time, Hun Sen said he wanted to improve the situation of women in prison, especially incarcerated pregnant mothers and children living with their mothers. It is unclear how many women have been helped so far.

Licadho’s monitoring manager, Am Sam Ath, said whether additional rooms were needed to conduct trials or if any other resources were lacking, the government needed to show resolve to conclude these outstanding trials.

“If we have genuine will in speeding up [the proceedings], I think it could be completed this year; we want all the cases cleared before March 8,” he said.