Older Court Officials: Gov’t Has Withheld Pay

Several judges and prosecutors aged 60 years and over have been working without pay for the past four months after the government reportedly took them off the payroll as part of a plan to retire them, justice officials said on Mon­day.

It was unclear whether all 31 court officials identified by government documents as being slated for re­tirement throughout the course of the year have been af­fect­ed, but two prosecutors contacted said they still haven’t been notified as to why their payment has been stop­ped.

“I have not received my salary since May,” said Huot Hy, 66, Kom­pong Thom Provincial Court chief prosecutor. “The lack of pay­ment is going on without notice,” he said.

When the problem first came to light in June, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana blamed a computer error and the affected court officials, except Appeals Court Pro­s­e­cu­­­­tor-General Hanrot Raken, con­­tin­­ued attending work. Hanrot Ra­ken left his position in May.

Huot Hy and Chheng Phat, 70, Kan­dal Provincial Court chief pros­­­ecutor, said Tuesday that re­ports surfaced in June stating that the mis­sing salaries would be re­imbursed the following month but that did not happen.

Documents obtained earlier this year indicated the government planned to retire 31 judges and pros­­ecutors as part of the CPP’s deal with Funcinpec to end last year’s political gridlock.

While most civil servants are required to retire at the age of 60, no law states when judges and prosecutors must retire.

According to a document sign­ed by Sim Rithisen, director of the Justice Ministry’s personnel de­partment, on Aug 27, 2004, some of the 31 judges and prosecutors were to be forcibly retired every quarter through 2005.

Tuot Lux, Justice Ministry secretary of state, said he did not know if the judges and prosecutors would be reimbursed their missing pay packets, but said his ministry and the Supreme Council of Magis­tracy are working on a new decree that will require that they retire.

“We are waiting for a Royal De­cree to place them in retirement,” Tuot Lux said. “We have been waiting for the statute for too long.”

 

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