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Study Finds Persistent Concerns in Judiciary

In February, government spokesman Phay Siphan told VOA that Phnom Penh acknowledged the judiciary was inadequate, but said improvements take time.

High levels of pre-trial detention and little legal representation for suspects remain chief concerns in the judiciary, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights said Tuesday.

Mang Monika, who led a monitoring project for the organization between July and December last year, told VOA Khmer that police continue misconduct, “including threats and the use of violence or torture, continued to affect a small number of trials.”

“Judges continue to use mobile phones in court,” she added.

Mang Monika will present the findings of the project to the Appeals Court in a meeting Wednesday.

“The data from the 532 trials monitored to show mixed results,” according to a draft of the report.

Those accused of felonies tend to have legal representation, but those charged with misdemeanors were provided less representation than in the past, the project found.

The study found an increase in the number of trials where evidence was presented in both Phnom Penh municipal court and in Kandal provincial court, the two courts monitored.

Confessions continue to be presented as evidence in both courts, despite allegations that such confessions were coerced through threats or psychological pressure, the report said.

Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, denied police used threats or violence to obtain confessions.

And Ke Sakhon, deputy chief of Phnom Penh court said the report was written “beyond the facts.”

“I cannot accept this report, and I’ve asked [Mang Monika] to re-correct the mistakes,” he said.