Access to Justice for Women

Overall Objective:

To ensure access to justice for women and girl survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in Siem Reap and Kompong Thom provinces.

Specific Objectives: The Project has the following specific objectives:

  1. To ensure women and girl survivors of GBV, particularly sexual and physical violence, in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom receive quality legal assistance and representation within the Cambodian justice system.
  2. To improve cooperation between all judicial stakeholders and other related service providers in order to establish and strengthen the referral system for women and girl survivors of GBV.
  3. To strengthen performance of judicial stakeholders in delivering public service, especially concerning GBV cases.

Target group and target area:

In cooperation with other legal aid partnesr funded by GIZ, the project will provide legal aid representation to women and girl survivors of GBV, particularly sexual and physical violence in following selected districts;

  1. Kampong Thom province: Santuk, Kampong Svay, Sandan, Brasat Balang, Brasat Sambour.
  2. Siem Reap province: Soth Nikum, Chikreng, Brasat Bakorng, Svay Leu, Srey Snom, Varin, Angkor Chum, Angkor Thom and Banteay Srey.
  3. For Criminal Justice Stakeholder Meetings, LAC covers all districts in the two provinces.

As a legal aid organisation, LAC will provide legal representation to women and girl clients at community and provincial levels, both within and outside the court system. The project will receive clients from across the target districts of the two provinces. The cases represented will be those involving domestic violence and violence against women. In most cases domestic violence is generally committed by a spouse/partner and involves physical, sexual, economical and mental violence. In such a case, the wife/partner survivors just want to file divorce complaints rather than criminal complaints against their husbands.

In the Access to Justice for Women Project phase II of MoWA-GIZ (ATJW II), the project continues to represent 50 remaining cases of women and girl survivors of GBV in Kampong Thom and Siem Reap which are continuing from previous project periods. The project will provide legal representation to 110 new cases. The project will work cooperatively with local authorities and court officials, and concerned NGOs, in order to improve and strengthen the referral system for survivors of GBV. The management of the project is based in Phnom Penh, and has provincial branch offices in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom for direct supports for the clients.

Summary of services to be provided to the target group:

  1. Provide legal representation to women and girl survivors of gender based violence, especially sexual and physical violence in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom
  • The project staff  performs the following actions in each case: provide legal advice, submit case representation to the court, copy cases, study cases, undertake further investigation if necessary, submit other motions if needed, attend hearing, assist clients to obtain final judgment, follow up cases, meet with prosecutor and judge to advocate the cases being handled, meeting with relevant stakeholders to assist clients, assist clients to enforce the judgment and appeal the cases (unjust civil compensation or obtain property division, child custody, spouse support, and child support in divorce cases). In cases of rape, the project staff assists women and girl survivors to get forensic certificates and medical treatments as soon as possible. Then, the forensic certificates are filed to the investigating and hearing judges for examination.
  • Every three months all project systems are controlled and checked by the Database Officer and Case Controller. This is done to ensure project case information is regularly updated. At the same time, the project has designated two advocacy officers responsible for ensuring survivors’ needs are met. The two advocacy officers based in Kampong Thom and Siem Reap are also appointed to facilitate cooperation with other NGOs as part of the referral system, and maintain up-to-date client information. The project has designed three electronic database systems namely case database system to control case status/results, case management system to control case paper works by scanning and storing electronically and the case referral system recording and storing all cases referred. The project staff will use the case database and case management and the case referral systems to analyse and favour client’s interest.
  • The project will provide legal consultation for women, especially those who are survivors of GBV, in the civil or criminal issues in both new and ongoing cases. The legal consultation will be done face to face or through phone calls with project staff, if available, preferably with project lawyers.
  1. Cooperate with Women’s Affair Department to organize case referral system meeting in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom.

The project staffs cooperate with Women’s Affair Department to co-organize case referral system meetings in the two provinces. In the meeting, all relevant service providers in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom will be invited in order to make discuss and find possible solutions and update information to assist clients/women and girl survivors of GBV who are referred in and out. The meeting is also organized in order to establish referral forms which will be used by all relevant service providers in the two provinces. In addition to strengthening the referral system meeting, LAC is ready to scan and store referral forms and the used referral forms for clients/women and girl of GBV in the project case referall system.  This date can then be integrated into the sub-national referall and case management system.

  1. Attend DCWC network meeting organized monthly by district committee on women and children and organise criminal justice stakeholder meetings

The project staff will co-organise 28 meetings in which 18 meetings in Siem Reap and 10 meetings in Kampong Thom following agenda set by district committees. During those meetings, the project staff will provide legal advices on GBV cases raised and discussed and instruct on how to track or file cases of GBV at the grassroots levels. The project staff also try to discuss the importance of referral system and how to strengthen it. The staff will also select some procedure and substantive laws regarding GBV in order to provide training to members of the meeting to enhance their legal capacity to assist survivors of GBV as well as to take action against perpetrators. Number participants attending DCWC meetings vary based on the numbers of communes in each district. Please note that 3 officials, commune gender focal point, commune chief and commune police post from each commune are invited to attend the meetings and the rest will be from representatives of concerned district offices.

The project also organise six Criminal Justice Stakeholder Meetings, three of which in Siem Reap and another three in Kampong Thom. On average, there are 40 participants attending in each meeting. It is noted that 3 officials, women’s affairs, police, PM or the chair of DCWC from each district are invited to attend the meetings. Representatives from concerned provincial departments and NGOs are also invited to attend the meetings.  The meetings bring up participants together to discuss issues regarding GBV. The meeting is presided over by the prosecutor, judge, chief of PDoWA and Chair of PCWC. As in some cases the meeting can speed up the GBV cases whether inside or outside the court system.

 

Expected outcomes of service delivery:
Outcome: Access to justice for women and girl survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in Siem Reap and Kompong Thom provinces meet needs.

Output 1: Women and girls who are survivor of gender-based violence are effectively supported to receive legal representation in both inside and outside court system.

Activities:

 

    1. Provide legal representation to 50 remaining cases and 110 new cases of women and girls who are survivors of gender based violence, especially sexual and physical violence in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom.
    2. Support to produce approximately 12 sets of forensic and medical certificates to serve as documents to incriminate perpetrators and support medical treatment for women with injuries inflicted by the offences.
    3. All project cases are entered into project database system with updated case status. A project electronic case management system is established and all project case documents of each case are scanned and stored in the Case Management System.

Output 2: A functioning referral system is supported and effectively implemented in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom.

Activities:

    1. In collaboration with PDoWA, organize 24 meetings, of which 12 in Siem Reap and 12 in Kampong Thom with 25 participants per meeting.
    2. Participate in meetings intending to improve cooperation amongst judicial stakeholders and other related service providers.
    3. Support  PDoWA to establish referral forms and put them into use by relevant service providers in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom
    4. For LAC, all forms referring clients in and out are scanned and stored in the case referral system and ready for sharing with the sub-national referral and case management system.

Output 3: Local authorities have improved functioning roles in providing legal advice to GBV survivors

Activities:

    1. Co-organise 28 DCWC network meetings (18 in SP and 10 in KTH) by project staffs.
    2. Transfer knowledge on substantive and procedure laws to district authorities via the interactions of and coaching from staffs.
    3. Received referred clients from relevant district authorities and NGOs
    1. Organize six criminal justice stakeholder meetings of which three in Siem Reap and another three in Kampong Thom.
    2. Issues on GBV cases are raised for legal resolution.

Strategies and Activities

  • The project provides quality legal representation to women and girls who are survivors of gender-based violence so that they can receive fair trials and reasonable civil compensations. The cases can be settled inside and outside the court system. The out of court cases are settled in cooperation with concerned local authorities. Some out of court cases are settled with parties agreeing on proposed conditions which are bound by one agreement. The agreement is the law of the parties and sometimes it is hard to enforce it. To be safe and secured, the project staff assists the survivors to get the court order that binds the agreement to be stronger and can be enforceable in a wider scope.  The inside court legal representation cases are fully supported by the project staff from the beginning to the end of the procedure which includes: interviews of clients, assistance to clients to file complaint, legal investigations in order to collect all evidence supporting the cases; assisting victims of sexual violence to obtain forensic certificate; attending the trial representing the clients in court; and assisting the clients to enforce the judgements. All case results and status are enterred into the case database and case management systems and regularly checked by the database officer. In cases representation, the below criteria must be met:
  • In case of domestic violence (misdemeanour) in which the survivors want to mediate the dispute with their husbands, the project staff – particularly advocacy officers – will work with local authorities including the Commune Gender Focal Point, Commune Chief / Councillors and Commune Administrative Police Post or CCWC or/and DCWC to mediate the parties and facilitate further attempts at living together. At mediation stage, perpetrators will be asked to sign a contract stating a commitment to cease any further domestic violence. At the same time, warning letters will be issued by police post, CCWC and / or DCWC to the perpetrators. If perpetrators ignore the warning, survivors may file divorce proceedings or criminal complaints against them as described below.
  • In cases of divorce, the lawyer will assist the client in all matters involved, including the legal divorce itself, spouse support, division of assets/debts, child support, child custody​ and child visiting rights. Actions may include applications for injunctions, initiating cases and appeal procedures. For cases outside the court system (including unregistered marriages) where parties have agreed to end the de facto relationship, the lawyer will submit the case to the court requesting for property division, child custody, spouse support, child support and child visiting rights.
  • In cases of violence against women, the lawyer will assist the client to address the crime committed against them, ensuring a fair trial for the client and justice for the perpetrator. This may include filing a complaint with the police, requesting for forensic certificate (if rape and other related cases), urging the police and the prosecutors to undertake action against the perpetrator, liaising with the investigating judge, obtaining a restraining or protection order, attending trials and referral of the client to other service providers or NGOs for other services they need such as safe houses, psychological support, health treatment, etc.
              1. The project provides legal consultation to women and girls, especially survivors of gender-based violence so that they understand the issues and the laws and know how to make decision to address them. The legal consultation can be done though face to face and phone calls. The constitutions are properly recorded and filed.
              2. The project in cooperation with PDoWA organises monthly meeting with concerned service providers to strengthen the case referral system. All LAC’s cases referred in and out are well electronically recorded in the case referral system.
              3. To strengthen the network representing survivors of gender based violence, the project staff will co-organise 28 District Committee on Women and Children (DCWC). The purpose of the meetings is to involve the members to response to cases of gender based violence as soon as possible. The meetings will also discuss tools for tracking and referring the cases of gender based violence. In most occasions, legal training on GBV related is mainstreamed to the meeting members. In the meantime, the project staff organise six criminal justice stakeholder meetings in the two provinces. The meeting will be presided over by the prosecutors and chief of provincial committee on women/deputy governor responsible for women and children and chief of PDoWA. Representatives from relevant provincial departments and district offices (one from women affairs, one from police inspection, one from royal gendarmerie and one from deputy governor/counsellor responsible for women and children) will be invited to attend. The meetings will discuss issues facing survivors of gender based violence. The meeting will expedite the status and due process of the cases.