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Justice Sector Leaders Commit to Reforms at Historic General Assembly

Phnom Penh, March 27, 2024 –Leaders of Cambodia's justice sector, including the Prosecutor-General of the Supreme Court, the President of the Supreme Court, and the Minister of Justice, have pledged to overhaul the system. This commitment was made in light of public criticism over the perceived inefficiencies and injustices within the sector.

The announcement came during the first General Assembly to review the justice sector's performance in 2023 and set priorities for 2024, held on the morning of March 27, 2024, at the Garden City Hotel in Phnom Penh's Chroy Changva district. This historic meeting, attended by over 700 representatives from the executive branch, judiciary, judges, and prosecutors from across the nation, marked a significant step towards judicial reform in Cambodia.

Prosecutor-General of the Supreme Court and Chair of the Supreme Disciplinary Council, Ms. Chea Leang, candidly addressed several pressing issues, including inactive judges, the misclassification of charges, neglect in prison visitations, and leniency in drug-related cases. She asserted, "As the Prosecutor-General and the Chairman of the Disciplinary Council in the work of punishing prosecutors, I will take responsibility of this work to monitor, evaluate and punish through complaints to prosecutors who perform their duties are unprofessional and / or seriously violate the professional code of conduct as judges and prosecutors, causing social injustice and causing great pain to those involved in the case."

Supreme Court President Chiv Keng emphasized the need for tribunal presidents to rectify the noted inactivity and shortcomings, announcing an end to leniency in disciplinary actions. He remarked, "The disciplinary council is not pardon anymore! His Excellency, who is a member of the Disciplinary Council here, will surely take care to discipline accordingly according to the mistakes in order to remove the bad impurities in the judiciary."

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Koeut Rith highlighted the Assembly as a critical juncture for open discussion and the adoption of judicial reforms aimed at regaining public and investor trust. He noted, "Our method is simple, is to strengthen discipline. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank His Excellency the President of the Supreme Court, Lok Chumteav, the Prosecutor-General, who previously announced at the General Assembly that from now on, it is time for discipline."

The judiciary's renewed commitment to discipline and reform aligns with Prime Minister Hun Manet’s strategy to enhance the quality and efficiency of Cambodia’s judiciary, aiming to restore its image and reputation.

This transformative General Assembly, which will run for three days, signifies a pivotal moment in Cambodia’s pursuit of justice sector improvements, setting the tone for a future where the judiciary upholds the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.

It should be noted that this first General Assembly of the Justice Sector, held from March 27 to 29, was led by the Ministry of Justice and included judges and prosecutors from the Trial Chamber. More than 700 participants from across the country attended the assembly.

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