End indefinite detention for 80 regular Cambodians

 
$1,803
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Aug 20, 2010

IBJ’s Cambodia Continues to Grow this Summer

IBJ had a very productive and eventful summer – conducting a number of programs and continuing to expand its network throughout Cambodia, solidifying its presence as a force for positive change. IBJ continues to increase the scope of it’s activities in Cambodia and is now reaching more people than ever before. Altogether IBJ’s Defender Resource Centers (DRC’s) now cover Phnom Penh, Takeo, Pursat, Prey Veng, Kampot, Kampong Chhnang, and Svay Rieng, penetrating rural areas and provinces and providing citizens with direct access to lawyers with the power to defend the accused. Per our calculation as of the end of July, IBJ’s lawyers through the facilitation of the functioning DRC’s, have now handled a total of 729 cases. In the past few months, IBJ has seen Cambodia move closer towards the implementation of a state-sponsored legal aid system. Judges from the Provincial Court in Pursat continue to refer cases directly to IBJ lawyers. This direct relationship between the Court and IBJ Office demonstrates a model for a successfully functioning state-sponsored legal aid system, illustrating a shift and movement in the consciousness of public officials as it pertains to legal aid at a grass-roots level. IBJ is working hard to ensure that this trend is adopted by other Provinces, furthering the apparent momentum towards the implementation of a state-sponsored legal aid system.

This summer IBJ Cambodia hosted a total of five interns from numerous law schools throughout the United States, who were paired with IBJ lawyers in Phnom Penh and Provinces. These interns helped to facilitate IBJ’s cases and varied Programs. IBJ also hosted two documentary journalists in Cambodia, who were tasked with the responsibility of documenting the lives, successes, and daily struggles of IBJ lawyers working diligently to defend the rights of the indigent accused. The interns and documentary journalists were a valuable addition to IBJ’s Programming in Cambodia. In the past few months IBJ has also conducted a variety of successful events, including a three-day training event for Cambodian Police Officers, Prosecution Officers, and Court Officers in May, hosted in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice in the Mondolkiri Province. The training, which was attended by 132 individual members of the legal community, addressed key provisions of the new Criminal Procedure and Criminal Codes.

IBJ also conducted a three-day training event for Cambodian Police Officers, Prosecution Officers and Court Officers, in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice in June. The training was held in the Prey Veng and Pursat Provinces and focused on raising awareness regarding the Criminal Procedure Code and Criminal Code. The training was attended by 120 individuals in Prey Veng and 62 individuals in Pursat – resulting in a cumulative 180 persons having increased awareness regarding the new Criminal Procedure and Criminal Code. IBJ also hosted a one-day Workshop Training on “Capacity Building” for criminal defense attorneys, which highlighted key provisions of the Criminal Code as well. The training was conducted in Phnom Penh at the IBJ headquarters and was attended by 20 participants total – including 10 IBJ staff and 10 lawyers from varied non-governmental organizations. The Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Justice was an honored guest and speaker at the event.

IBJ also held a half-day semi-annual meeting for Cambodian citizens and police officers in the Pursat Province. The meeting addressed the issue of awareness regarding “legal civil rights,” raising awareness in the community about IBJ’s work and increasing knowledge regarding the new Criminal Procedure Code. A total of 60 people attended the meeting, including the Commune Chief, Police Officers and other concerned citizens. During the meeting IBJ provided leaflets and pamphlets detailing the importance of protecting human rights and legal rights, to all of the participants. In taking a survey of participants following the conclusion of the meeting, IBJ notes that citizens were clear about the role of IBJ, the importance of protecting their legal rights, and how to gain access to justice by contacting an IBJ lawyer. The meeting was very successful in helping raise awareness within the community about how to gain access to defense counsel and the importance of legal representation at all stages of criminal proceedings. In July IBJ held a similar semi-annual meeting in the Kompong Chhnang Province, which was also attended by police officers and citizens.

IBJ is well positioned to build upon what it has achieved this year and continues to play a greater role in achieving justice for all in Cambodia. Indeed, the organization remains focused on the day where the basic legal rights of every man, woman and child are respected in all instances of arrest or judicial accusation.

----------------------------------------------- First of all, we would like to thank you all for your support of IBJ’s Cambodia Country Program. With your help, we have been able to continue and expand our work in Cambodia. Through our work in Cambodia, we're able to assist more and more indigent accused, providing them with legal assistance as well as rights awareness. Your support is vital to the continued success of our Cambodia program!

Background Information on IBJ’s Cambodia Program:

The Cambodia Program at IBJ is one of the oldest long-standing Programs within the organization. Following the atrocities perpetuated by the Khmer Rouge regime, IBJ has worked since 2001 to rebuild the criminal justice system and to provide support for the community. The Program seeks to facilitate the long-term development of a system that embraces accessible legal aid for all citizens throughout the entire nation. Providing legal aid services to the Accused and increasing the presence of legal services throughout the country, particularly in rural areas, will help to increase citizen’s access to justice. Access to legal aid services will also significantly decrease the percentage of the Accused who remain in prison without legal representation and who are vulnerable to the possibility of torture.

The Program directly defends torture victims and seeks to reduce the prevalence of torture by police, prison officials, and judges. The Program also seeks to provide direct legal representation to underrepresented members of society, including women, minorities, and those particularly situated in rural areas. The Program also seeks to raise awareness among citizens and to inform them of their legal rights in the event of an arrest or accusation through conducting Street Law and Rights Awareness Campaigns. Another core function of the Program is to conduct trainings for lawyers, judges, and other members of the legal profession, on effective defense strategies and techniques. These trainings also cover the implementation of the new Cambodian Criminal Procedure Code adopted in August of 2007, in an effort to ensure that attorneys are aware of the changes and to facilitate a smooth transition to compliance with the new regulations. Finally, the Program fosters Roundtable discussions bringing together key members of the community to engage in substantive dialogues regarding the protection of legal rights and human rights, and to encourage the enhancement of the criminal justice system.

What's New? Since you last heard from us, IBJ’s Cambodia Program, lead by IBJ Fellow Ouk Vandeth, has been making great progress.

Thank you again for all your support!

May 20, 2010

IBJ’s Cambodia Program Expands Significantly While

IBJ’s Cambodia Program Expands Significantly While Moving Forward in 2010 ________________________________________________________________

In recent months IBJ has increased the scope of its activities in Cambodia and is now reaching more people than ever before. IBJ opened a new Defender Resource Center (DRC) in the Prey Veng Province in the fall, which now enables us to provide direct legal representation to a significantly increased number of individuals. Altogether IBJ’s DRC’s now cover Phnom Penh, Takeo, Pursat, Prey Veng, Kampot, Kampong Chhnang, and Svay Rieng, penetrating rural areas and provinces and providing direct access to lawyers with the power to defend the accused. In the past few months, IBJ has seen Cambodia move closer towards the implementation of a state-sponsored legal aid system. In fact, Judges from the Provincial Court in Pursat have started referring cases directly to IBJ lawyers. This direct relationship between the Court and IBJ Office demonstrates a model for a successfully functioning state-sponsored legal aid system, illustrating a shift and movement in the consciousness of public officials as it pertains to legal aid, at a grass-roots level. Per our calculation as of the end of April, IBJ lawyers have handled a total of 574 cases.

In the past few months we have conducted a variety of successful events, including a Semi-Annual meeting held in the Takeo Province on March 30, 2010, which was attended by members of numerous non-governmental organizations, police officials, and university students. The goal of this meeting was to bring together various members of civil society, in an effort to raise awareness regarding issues affecting the criminal justice system throughout Cambodia. Topics discussed during the meeting were the state of legal aid throughout the Takeo Province, the prevalence of torture, and the mortality rate among youths. The meeting was a great success, widely attended by members of the community, and served the purpose of raising consciousness within the community as it pertains to the rights of the accused.

Another pillar of IBJ’s work in Cambodia consists of conducting trainings for lawyers, public officials, and members of the legal community. IBJ conducted a three-day training event for Cambodian lawyers from April 27, 2010 – April 29,2010, in conjunction with the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia. The trainings were held at the Sunway Hotel in Phnom Penh, and the main topic discussed was the recently passed 2009 Criminal Code. There was a significant interest in this event, as there were 72 attendees the first day, 79 people the second day, and 45 attendees the third day. There was an overwhelming demand for the training, and attendees referenced their appreciation for IBJ’s hosting of the event.

IBJ also continues hosting Rights Awareness Campaigns and Events in an effort to inform citizens of their rights, and to encourage them to demand them in case of an arrest or judicial accusation. On April 7, 2010 Ouk Vandeth participated in a radio talk show on the Sarika radio station, in conjunction with Ms. Ong Sileth from Legal Aid Cambodia. The purpose of the program was to explain the difference between the classifications of suspected persons, charged persons, and accused persons – and to further explain and elaborate upon the rights of charged persons. Differentiating between these different stages in criminal proceedings and characterizing the rights associated with each status, helped individuals to gain an increased understanding of their legal rights depending upon their status. Again, the radio program proved to be a success and reached thousands of listeners throughout the nation.

In the coming months IBJ will continue to expand its network throughout Cambodia and solidify its presence as a force for positive change. IBJ is well-positioned to build upon what it has achieved this year and continues to play a greater role in achieving justice for all in Cambodia. Indeed, the organization remains focused on the day where the basic legal rights of every man, woman and child are respected in all instances of arrest or judicial accusation.

-----------------------------------------------

First of all, we would like to thank you all for your support of IBJ’s Cambodia Country Program. With your help, we have been able to continue and expand our work in Cambodia. Through our work in Cambodia, we're able to assist more and more indigent accused, providing them with legal assistance as well as rights awareness. Your support is vital to the continued success of our Cambodia program! -----------------------------------------------

Background Information on IBJ’s Cambodia Program:

The Cambodia Program at IBJ is one of the oldest long-standing Programs within the organization. Following the atrocities perpetuated by the Khmer Rouge regime, IBJ has worked since 2001 to rebuild the criminal justice system and to provide support for the community. The Program seeks to facilitate the long-term development of a system that embraces accessible legal aid for all citizens throughout the entire nation. Providing legal aid services to the Accused and increasing the presence of legal services throughout the country, particularly in rural areas, will help to increase citizen’s access to justice. Access to legal aid services will also significantly decrease the percentage of the Accused who remain in prison without legal representation and who are vulnerable to the possibility of torture.

The Program directly defends torture victims and seeks to reduce the prevalence of torture by police, prison officials, and judges. The Program also seeks to provide direct legal representation to underrepresented members of society, including women, minorities, and those particularly situated in rural areas. The Program also seeks to raise awareness among citizens and to inform them of their legal rights in the event of an arrest or accusation through conducting Street Law and Rights Awareness Campaigns. Another core function of the Program is to conduct trainings for lawyers, judges, and other members of the legal profession, on effective defense strategies and techniques. These trainings also cover the implementation of the new Cambodian Criminal Procedure Code adopted in August of 2007, in an effort to ensure that attorneys are aware of the changes and to facilitate a smooth transition to compliance with the new regulations. Finally, the Program fosters Roundtable discussions bringing together key members of the community to engage in substantive dialogues regarding the protection of legal rights and human rights, and to encourage the enhancement of the criminal justice system.

-----------------------------------------------

What's New? Since you last heard from us, IBJ’s Cambodia Program, lead by IBJ Fellow Ouk Vandeth, has been making great progress.

Thank you again for all your support!

Feb 3, 2010

IBJ Cambodia: So much progress has been made!

Government officials and representatives of the Bar Association
Government officials and representatives of the Bar Association

---------------------------------------------- IBJ Collaborates with the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia to hold a Workshop Defender Training Program in Phnom Penh Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 ---------------------------------------------- On August 27th, 2009, IBJ Cambodia and the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) joined together to hold a workshop defender training program in Phnom Penh. Held at the Naga World Cambodia Hotel, this highly successful event tallied up a total of 94 participants to discuss the difficulties of implementing the new criminal code procedure in Cambodia. The main objective being an overhaul of the current knowledgebase that runs throughout the defender foundation, through the combined use of past experience from both lawyers as well as law makers and law enforcement officials.

Kicking off the workshop were speeches by IBJ Fellow Ouk Vandeth as well as the Chief of the BAKC H.E. Chiv Song Hak, which led into the first of two main sessions, where lawyers and government officials introduced the procedures of accusations within the court, and evaluated the difficulties lawyers may face in relation to these accusations.

In the second half of the event, Mr. Hing Thirith, a Prosecutor from the Supreme Court, was the head speaker and articulated the procedure of investigation that takes place when in the role of an Investigating Judge. Following this, a lawyer of the Royal Government of Cambodia spoke of the challenges a lawyer faces in the investigation stage

We saw an immense amount of interest from the crowd, with many questions being asked and problems being solved, with the facilitators, the speakers, and anyone else who may have been knowledgeable providing support through this portion of the workshop.

IBJ’s first collaboration with the BAKC resulted in a great achievement. To wind down the final moments of the workshop, the Secretary of State of MOJ, H.E. Sam Sophal, thanked all of the participants for such a keen and engaging experience, and expressed his enthusiasm with regards to the great success of the event. Through the continued alliance between IBJ and the BAKC we will be able to improve and upgrade the knowledge and awareness required for lawyers in relation to the accusation procedure as well as the investigative procedures in the system. ----------------------------------------------- First of all, we would like to thank you all for your support of IBJ’s Cambodia Country Program. With your help, we have been able to continue and expand our work in Cambodia. Through our work in Cambodia, we're able to assist more and more indigent accused, providing them with legal assistance as well as rights awareness. Your support is vital to the continued success of our Cambodia program!

Basic background about IBJ Cambodia: Since 2001, IBJ has been helping Cambodia to rebuild its justice system by organizing trainings sessions, rights awareness campaigns, roundtables and providing legal aid services. Through 3 offices located in Phnom Penh, Takeo and Kampong Chhnang, IBJ holds seminars and training sessions throughout the country to help train attorneys and inform citizens of their rights.

What's New? Since you last heard from us, IBJ’s Cambodia Program, lead by IBJ Fellow Ouk Vandeth, has been making great progress. Thanks again for all your support!

Links:

Aug 6, 2009

IBJ Cambodia: So much progress has been made!

First of all, we would like to thank you all for your support of IBJ’s Cambodia Country Program. With your help, we have been able to continue and expand our work in Cambodia. Through our work in Cambodia, we're able to assist more and more indigent accused, providing them with legal assistance as well as rights awareness. Your support is vital to the continued success of our Cambodia program!

Basic background about IBJ Cambodia: Since 2001, IBJ has been helping Cambodia to rebuild its justice system by organizing trainings sessions, rights awareness campaigns, roundtables and providing legal aid services. Through 3 offices located in Phnom Penh, Takeo and Kampong Chhnang, IBJ holds seminars and training sessions throughout the country to help train attorneys and inform citizens of their rights.

What's New? Since you last heard from us, IBJ’s Cambodia Program, lead by IBJ Fellow Ouk Vandeth, has been making great progress. Please read the attached document for updates on our activities in the past few months. Also check out our IBJ Blog (http://blog.ibj.org/category/cambodia/) for the latest news about our Cambodia Project!

Thanks again for all your support!

Links:

Jul 14, 2009

A Postcard from End indefinite detention for 80 regular Cambodians

Clare Rutz is a student who is traveling throughout Asia this summer and visiting a number of GlobalGiving projects. On June 15th she visited "End indefinite detention for 80 regular Cambodians." When asked what she would tell her friends about this project, Clare said: “Good project."

When traveling through developing countries I’ll frequently ask the locals, “What do you think is your country’s greatest need?” The response I received in Cambodia was almost always about ameliorating corruption and working towards justice. I visited the office of International Bridges to Justice that does just that. They are faced with the difficult challenge of working with the law that some would say doesn’t even exist in Cambodia. Many believe the government is so corrupt that the only thing that speaks in a courtroom is your wallet. I asked Ouk Vandeth at the IBJ office about this corruption, and it wasn’t denied that it is a problem. He believes that the only way to help Cambodia move in the right direction is to teach the people about their legal rights. To be educated about the law gives the people a power they wouldn’t have previously. The training of police officers is also of major concern to IBJ. At this time, the police are not trained to properly collect evidence so in order to receive a confession torture is often used. The torture often continues until the defendant admits to the crime, which he may or may not have committed.

IBJ’s goal is to eliminate torture in Cambodia, and they’re getting closer to that goal through fast intervention and teaching the people about their right to have a lawyer. Since 2007 they have supported approximately two hundred defendants that find IBJ through Legal Aid of Cambodia, the United Nations, or relatives and other connections to the program. During my visit I met with Vandeth, the director of the site in Phnom Penh, and two law students who were interning at the office for the summer. Currently there is a major effort to spread IBJ’s work throughout Cambodia by opening offices and increasing the number of staff, but this of course is difficult with limited funds. Vandeth’s time is stretched thin as he travels throughout the entire country to work with individual defendants and other IBJ programs, which include the Street Law Program, the Round Table Discussion, and the Radio Talk Show. The Street Law Program is an effort to bring awareness to the villages of Cambodia through meetings, discussions, and leaflets that explain their legal rights. The Round Table Discussion brings major players and lawyers together to discuss and determine what can be done to move Cambodia towards justice, and the Radio Talk Show takes place twice a month and allows citizens to call in and have their answers questioned about their rights.

These efforts are crucial and take quite some time to truly change the country. The elimination of torture and the provision of fair legal services are not easy goals to undertake, but without justice and with corruption seeping into the daily life of every Cambodian the country will be faced with incredible hardship. International Bridges to Justice is making strides in the right direction, but support is obviously vital. To learn more about their continuing effort visit their page on the GlobalGiving website: www.globalgiving.com/2223

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Karen Tse

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Geneva, Switzerland

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Map of End indefinite detention for 80 regular Cambodians