Court Officials Wait Years for Promised Pensions

Twelve retired judges and prosecutors from courts throughout the country have not received their pensions since being forced to retire from their posts in 2005, several of the former court officials said Wednesday.

Eleven of the 12 retirees wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 16 asking him to help get the pension money they are owed, according to a copy of the letter.

“We are the ones who paved the way for the first of the courts since 1979,” the former officials wrote in their letter to Hun Sen. “In the principle of placing [us] in retirement, [we] should have received the pension, but to this day, we still have not receive the pension to support our living in old age,” they wrote.

Chheng Phat, 77, former chief prosecutor for the Kandal Provincial Court, said by telephone that he and 11 other court officials were forced to retire following a meeting of the Council of Ministers in September 2005. A year-and-a-half later King Norodom Sihamoni signed a Royal decree confirming that the 12 were retired.

Him Y, 74, a former director of Kampot Provincial Court who has had to turn to rice farming to get by, said by telephone that he has received no explanation as to why he hasn’t received his pension.

“There has been no specific notification to explain the long delay of payment,” he said, adding that Ministry of Justice officials have informed him that they “are also not clear about the situation of the pensions.”

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Sim Rithisen, director of the Justice Ministry’s personnel and training department, said by telephone that the ministry received approval from the Council of Ministers to pay pensions to the retired court officials in June this year.

“This issue has been approved in principle already,” he said, adding that his department forwarded the Council of Minister’s pension approval to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation earlier this month.

Asked why it has taken so long to pay the retirees’ their pensions, Sim Rithisen said that there is no law outlining how to handle pensions for court officials.

“It is complicated,” he said.

Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng could not be reached for comment Wednesday and Social Affairs Secretary of State Mut Khiev said he was too sick to comment on the case.

Chheng Phat said that he believes his pension should be somewhere close to his former monthly salary of $450 per month, which if calculated for the 39 months that he has retired, would amount to around $17,000.

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