Magistracy Council Talks Judges’ Salaries

The Supreme Council of Ma­g­is­tracy discussed several issues focusing on how to im­prove the judicial system, including examining how judges are appointed and increasing salaries for judges, Uk Vithun, a council member, said Wednes­day.

The convening of the Council on Wednesday represented only the third gathering of the group since the body was created in the 1993 Constitution.

The nine-member Council is charged with ensuring the independence of the courts, appointing all judges and overseeing the conduct of judges.

Many experts, including Thomas Hammarberg, the UN human rights envoy to Cambo­dia, have criticized the Council for meeting too few times and for being ineffective.

The 1993 Constitution states that King Norodom Sihanouk is president of the Council, but he has been ill lately. Chea Sim is filling in for the King, meaning Justice Minis­ter Uk Vithun (Fun) is the lone Council member who is not a member of the CPP.

Cambodian courts also have been criticized for a culture of impunity and high level of corruption. Many judges are known to take bribes to supplement their government salary, which ranges from $20 to $50 per month.

“We discussed increasing judges’ salary in order to avoid corruption,” Uk Vithun said.

Other topics to be discussed are the competence level and retirement of judges, and the independence and structure of the courts.

Uk Vithun said he did not know what the results of the meeting would be because the Council was still discussing issues.

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