No Place to Put Criminals, Province Says

Oddar Meanchey, a province of about 120,000 people in the country’s northwest, has just about everything, officials say.

That is, everything except a courthouse, jail, judges, prosecutors, or lawyers, said Moeung Kell, deputy provincial governor.

That means every criminal arrested in the province must be sent to Siem Reap or Banteay Meanchey provinces by taxi—a full day’s travel over lonely and bad roads, he said.

“We have police, military police, soldiers and other institutions,’’ he said. “The road is so bad…this is a problem we have to solve.’’

Oddar Meanchey officials wrote last week to the Ministry of Justice to ask for a courthouse to be built in Samraong, the provincial capital about 100 km northwest of Siem Reap.

Until recently, the province was the site of heavy and prolonged fighting between government forces and the Khmer Rouge. Police officials say many residents are still armed, which creates potential security problems.

“We are worried about security when we escort perpetrators along the road to Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey,’’ said Moeung Kell, noting that comrades of the accused may be lurking along the road.

Provincial Governor Long Sarin has already located a site for the proposed courthouse, said one Justice official. Now he is just waiting for approval and funding, the official said.

Suy Nou, secretary of state for the ministry, said Monday the request has a high priority. “We tried once to ask the Finance Ministry for money to build courthouses in Pailin and Oddar Meanchey, but it said it has no money,’’ he said.

The justice ministry needs $4.5 million to build courthouses across Cambodia, he said. Most of the money will have to come from donor countries. The Cam­bodian government can provide only a small amount, he said.

Suy Nou said he hopes the ministry will find money for Oddar Meanchey next year.





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