BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA
The Royal Government of Cambodia plans to establish a Children’s Court in order to protect the children from being trafficked and forms of sexual exploitation and all forms of children’s rights violation in the future.
Ith Rady, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice, said that this suggestion model proceeds upon the basis that the proposed court would be juvenile justice rather one that also exercises child protection powers.
He added that the latter would of necessity be a more complex institution that would require an examination of the role of other government departments and their co-operation. It could perhaps be a project following the development of the first model.
“The aim is to set up a model children’s Court for Cambodia at a suitable location to be introduced as part of the implementation of the new Cambodia juvenile justice law bearing in mind the current law in the first instance. The location would ideally be located in an area where a demonstrated need for it is,” he said during opening speech at the workshop on Cambodia model children’s proposal in Phnom Penh.
H.E. Rady stated that the following is not intended to be definition but rather to provide a basis for discussion. It is important that any such institution represent Cambodian values and culture and be acceptable to Cambodian people. Financial consideration and practicability are also high relevant.
“It is suggested that the Court could be developed in advance of the passage of that legislation and in anticipation of it, which could have the advantage that it would be ready to operate or in fact be operating at the time of the passage of the law. Prior to the passage of the law, the Court would of course have to apply to existing laws but could still offer many of the procedural advantages associated with the existence of a separate court for children and assist with Cambodia’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC), which forms of the Cambodian institution. This is wholly dependent on when the legislation is passed,” he said.
H.E. Rady said that if it is passed sooner rather than later at least the process of designing the court model will have commenced. The Court could be used as a model for further children’s court development in Cambodia. He added that the court could also be used as a training center for all judges, prosecutors, court staff, and police involved in applying the new Cambodian juvenile justice law.
“Both the proposed juvenile justice law and the new criminal code are written with rehabilitation and reformation as main goals, which should also be the main goals of such a Court,” he said.
He stated that an important aspect of such a court would be the diversion of offenders out of the criminal justice system and it is noted that the new criminal code provides that a judge can order that a child offender are placed back in society with their parents, guardians or where seemed necessary, in public institutions such as rehabilitation centers or hospitals where they can remain under the court’s supervision.
Professor Alastair Nicholson, an Australian Law Expert said that the first children’s court opened in Victoria in 1906. It has always had two areas of jurisdiction including criminal offences by children and care and protection of children at risk. He added that the objective of the Children’s Court is to provide a modern, professional, accessible and responsive specialist court system focused on the need of children, young people and their families.