Ang Mealatey, the former president of Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court, was appointed president of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday, ending the eight-year tenure of Chiv Keng.
Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana and Supreme Court President Dith Munty presided over the ceremony of around 100 government officials in the municipal court’s fifth-floor conference room.
“Today, I officially announce as the new president of Phnom Penh Municipal Court Ang Mealatey,” Mr. Vong Vathana said.
Mr. Vong Vathana praised Mr. Mealatey for his work in Banteay Meanchey and said that he had also been added to a judicial reform team drafting new laws at the Ministry of Justice.
“This ceremony does not mean anyone is wrong or anyone is right by moving them from one place to another,” he cautioned. “It is normal practice for government officials to move like this.”
Mr. Keng, who previously worked as a judge at the Supreme Court, will move back there to become Mr. Munty’s deputy.
Thun Saray, president of human rights group Adhoc, said he had high hopes for how Mr. Mealatey would perform in one of the most prominent judicial posts in the country.
“I cannot say he is a perfect judge or a perfect man, and I could be wrong, but according to my observations, Ang Mealatey has collaborated with Adhoc and other NGOs to bring some relative justice to poor people,” Mr. Saray said.
“Phnom Penh, though, is a very different environment,” he added. “There are a lot of rich and powerful people, so we must wait to see if he can remain with the same behavior. It is also more expensive to live in Phnom Penh, so I hope Mr. Mealatey can afford to feed his family without causing any problems.”
Am Sam Ath, senior investigator for local rights group Licadho, was also positive about Mr. Mealatey’s appointment.
“I strongly support the commitment of the new president, but the court must remain free from politics,” he said.
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