Friday, 21.3.2008: Mr. Joseph Mussomeli Criticized that Over 25% of Accused Persons Are Tortured or Forced to Confess

Posted on 22 March 2008. Filed under: Week 552 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 552

“Corruption in the judicial system of Cambodia is being strongly criticized by donors and local human rights organizations, as well as by civil society. In contrast, groups of high-ranking officials who committed serious crimes, are free from punishment, but poor citizens always suffer from unjust and corrupt courts.

“During the report presentation of the Court Watch Project for the year 2007, a program of the Center for Social Development [CSD], held on 20 March 2008, the US Ambassador Mr. Joseph Mussomeli said, ‘Last year I admired the Cambodian judicial system. Obviously, the public and the citizens must be allowed to hear a trial freely. This is a crucial step toward transparency and the building of a culture of the rule of law. It is a priority to do so. Nothing is more important than to educate citizens to be aware of the rule of law. In human society, there are only two systems; one is dictatorship, where the most powerful and the richest are those who are in control; the other system is the rule of law, which accords equality and justice to all people. Therefore also those who are considered to be suspects are not different [they have also be treated with equality and justice], also if they are unjustly abused by the rich. Last week, I shared with law students a statement by Mr. Anarcharsis, a [sixth century before Christ] Greek scholar, who said, ”Laws are like spider webs; they will catch, it is true, the weak and poor, but would be torn in pieces by the rich and powerful.” But it is our job to prove that the statement of Mr. Anarcharsis is not true. It means that there must be a mechanism to evaluate and measure the work of the court system, in order to make sure that it is not like a spider web catching only the poor and the weak. If the rule of law is in progress, it will be transparent that it is implementing the work of the courts, and the work of the Center for Social Development will be more transparent keeping a close watch on the courts. This is a most praiseworthy and important service for Khmer society.’

“The annual report of the CSD clearly shows what is happening in the courtrooms. It indicates the lack of proper ‘judicial procedures’ defined by a democratic society. For instance, according to observations of the CSD, in more than half of the criminal cases, the accused persons did not have their defense lawyers in court. Therefore, the current judicial system in Cambodia should be improved and upgraded.

“The CSD reported that more than 25 percent of the accused persons said that they were tortured or forced to confess something. Mr. Joseph added, ‘I remember that this percentage is similar to the previous year, which indicates that there is not much difference, as the accused persons are still pressured during interrogation. I realize that it is difficult for the Court Watch Project to confirm that such accusations are real. Some suspects may tell a lie, but the number of such accusations can confirm that there are many mistakes in the court system. I notice that, according to the report, juvenile suspects are often detained for an indefinite period of time to be sentenced. Such cases seem to happen mostly in the juvenile courts. This is injustice.

“He continued, ‘News about the courts are not always bad. Cambodian courts are moving forward and improving. The CSD reported that more victims and witnesses appeared in court to respond to charges in 2007 than in 2006. This indicates that the judicial system is improving and providing opportunities to accused persons, so that they can defend themselves against what they are charged. Moreover, officials who serve as court watchers praised the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for not sending a 14-year-old boy to prison, but just sending him to a correction center instead.’ There are many more efforts that the judicial system needs to make so that they can win the trust of people. Even while some parts of the problem are due to failures of the government, some other parts are due to failures of the people. Everyone wants to have a judicial system governed by fairness and transparency, but some people start to make exceptions in case something happens to themselves, their family, or their friends. Many people who normally ask for transparency, will then want to have special attention. It is natural that everyone wants attention, but it is not good to ask for exceptions. This is also something where many organizations and the CSD can help.’

“The US ambassador praised the CSD for its efforts this year, and he also appreciated the struggle of government officials and their willingness to cooperate with the CSD and its Court Watch Project. ‘The US government has the honor to assist in this task.’” Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #69, 21.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 21 March 2008


Chakraval, Vol.16, #2764, 21.3.2008

  • Banteay Meanchey: Officials of the Committee for Land Distribution to Landless People, an Action Promoted by the Prime Minister, Take Land to Share Among Each Other
  • Military Police, Who Protect Land for the Thai Bun Roong Company, Wounded a Man with Bullets in a Land Dispute [20 March – Sihanoukville]


Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #69, 21.3.2008

  • Mr. Joseph Mussomeli Criticized that Over 25% of Accused Persons Are Tortured or Forced to Confess
  • [Human Rights Party President] Kem Sokha: Increasing Rice Price Is a Threat to Khmer Citizens’ Livelihood


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1598, 21.3.2008

  • Royal Government Representative [Mr. Om Yentieng] Rejects Report of Mr. Yash Ghai [Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia] in the Session of the UN Human Rights Council
  • Members of the Sam Rainsy Party and the Norodom Ranariddh Party in Two Provinces [Banteay Meanchey and Ratanakiri] Rush to Join the Cambodian People’s Party
  • Big Site of Drug Production in Phnom Penh Raided; Five People Arrested [19 March – Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6302, 21.3.2008

  • Nuon Chea Continues to Be Detained; Hearings of Khiev Samphan and Ieng Thirith Will Be Held [21-23 April 2008]
  • It Is a Shame that [ten] Foreign Tourists Entering through the Poipet Border Crossing [took the initiative and] Cleaned up Garbage [18 March 2008]
  • Khmer Artist [Leang Sikan] Created a Dragon from Plastic Wastes [and put it on a Siem Reap River bridge] for World Water Day [22 March]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3418, 21.3.2008

  • Mr. Joseph A. Mussomeli: More Than 50% of Those Accused of Crimes Do Not Have Lawyers to Defend Them
  • Prime Minister Happy about Increase of Land Prices; People Worried about Increase of Rice Prices


Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1293, 21.3.2008

  • Dekchor Hun Sen [expressing his loyalty to the monarchy]: I Pray to Meet the King Again in Our Next Birth


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4546, 21.3.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor [during inauguration of Bangkok Hospital branch in Phnom Penh on 20 March]: ‘Tens of Thousands of Cambodian Citizens Go for Medical Treatments Abroad Each Year’
  • Former Japanese Prime Minister [Abe Shinzo] Comes to Visit Cambodia to Provide a School Building to Khmer Children [in Thnal Totueng]
  • Tourist Guides Encourage Sex Tourism [by showing their clients sex destinations, in order to get commissions or tips – says Madame You Ay, Secretary of State of Women’s Affairs and head of the National Taskforce against Trafficking in Persons]

Have a look at last week’s editorial

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One Response to “Friday, 21.3.2008: Mr. Joseph Mussomeli Criticized that Over 25% of Accused Persons Are Tortured or Forced to Confess”

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Thnal Totueng, in the second article from Rasmei Kampuchea, should have been identified as being in Kompong Tralach, Kompong Chhnang.

Norbert Klein, Editor


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