The Legal Aid for Detainees (LAD) Project / Model Court Project
I. Project Description:
1. Legal Aid of Cambodia
After chronic civil war and political conflict, Cambodia is finally enjoying peace. However, the devastation brought on by the Khmer Rouge regime and the wars that preceded and followed it continue to haunt the country and weaken its development efforts. A large problem affecting the nascent justice system is a lack of available legal representation. Most lawyers in Cambodia practice law in the private sector in urban areas; very few lawyers choose to practice in remote areas or for nongovernmental organizations, and this makes it difficult for indigent Cambodians to have access to a fair justice system. LAC’s mission is to provide free, quality legal services to, and advocate for, Cambodia’s poor in both criminal and civil cases.
2. Legal Aid for Detainees
The courts in Kandal, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham and Phnom Penh were designated as a Model Courts in 2007, as part of the judicial reform strategy of the Cambodian government. The Model Court is to be strengthened to become a best practice model for the rest of the country. LAC received support from EWMI to establish legal aid services in Kandal in 2007 and in Banteay Meanchey in October 2010 to support the goals of the Model Court and to illustrate the importance of effective legal representation for all indigent Cambodians. The LAC-Model court project in Kandal and Banteay Meanchey proudly welcomes court officers to cooperate as partner in the speeding and strengthening of the working of the court system. This project has had much success in providing legal services to detainees, and has also helped to reform court procedure. As Kandal and BMC court process on better proceeding, we move and adopt this project to apply in Kampong Cham and Preah Sihanouk province.
II. Goals and Objectives:
Goal: The overall goal of the LAD project is to improve the judicial system in Kampong Cham and Preah Sihaknuk province through the provision of legal representation for indigent detainees, which can lead to development of a best practice model to be used throughout all provincial courts in Cambodia.
- Access to justice: Providing effective legal representation for all types of criminal client, in Kampong Cham 190 detainees (140 males, 25 females and 25 juveniles), at Preah Sihaknuk 110 detainees (90 men, 10 women, 10 juveniles)
- Advocate for and promotion of respect for the rights of detainees: Advocacy meetings, legal consultation, and written materials informing detainees of their rights.
- Legal and judicial reform by and for the poor: Organizing advocacy meetings between LAD staff members, the court president and prosecutor, prison president and EWMI representatives in Kampong Cham and Preah Sihaknuk.
- Improved access to legal aid statistics: Continue to apply and extend case management potential and record in the LAC database at all steps of procedure useful information for speeding up court process and advocating with the court officer. Data will focus on the occurrence of fair trials.
- Improvement of capacity of LAD staff: Providing information and training for LAD project staff members about the criminal law, skills, cases management and advocacy.
a. Legal Representation
Kampong Cham and Preah Sihaknuk LAD projects will provide legal aid to detainees, including client visits, advice, and representation in court for all types of criminal offenses including land law criminal cases (bail, acquittal, trial dates, and release for excessively detained provisional prisoners). Experienced and accredited lawyers will provide all representation. The main responsibility of these lawyers will be to ensure that all detainees held in provisional detention and unable to afford a private lawyer will receive prompt and effective legal representation. In order to provide high quality and effective legal representation for detainees, LAD staff members:
- Regularly visit the courts and prisons to identify persons detained without legal representation.
- Conduct investigations to find witnesses and evidence for detainees’ defense.
- File motions for release on bail and/or motions for acquittal, as well as all necessary applications.
- Visit prisons to interview clients and prepare them for trial.
- Attend trial as representation for detainees.
- Work in conjunction with lawyers from other NGOs on high-profile cases.
- Issue press releases regarding high-profile cases in order to increase the public’s understanding of the rule of law.
- Give legal advice and consultation to detainees or people who visit the LAC offices
b. Legal Consultation
In addition to providing high-quality, effective legal representation, LAD staff will also conduct one-on-one consultations with detainees at Kampong Cham and Preah Sihaknuk. During the course of these consultations, lawyers will help detainees to understand the law, with the goal of protecting their rights.
c. Advocacy and Training with Relevant NGOs and Court and Prison Officials
The LAD staff members will cooperate informally with court and prison officials to promote respect for the rights of detainees and to identify detainees with no access to legal aid. LAD staff will also cooperate with other legal and/or human right NGOs and civil society organizations that share the common goal of better implementation of laws protecting detainees’ rights. The LAD project will also arrange advocacy meetings with court officials in Kampong Cham and Preah Sihaknuk province.
IV. Donor: EWMI
The Kampong Cham project staff is comprised of 2 lawyers, 2 investigators and 1 finance assistant. The Preah Sihaknouk Ville staff will consist of 1 project manager, 1 lawyer, 1 legal assistant and 1 admin/cashier.