Older Judicial Workers Taken Off Gov’t Payroll

Thirty-one judges and prosecutors, including members of the Su­preme Council of Magistracy, have been taken off the government’s payroll and have not re­ceived sa­lar­ies for May, officials said Tuesday.

Those affected are all over the age of 60, and several interviewed on Tues­day said they were taken by surprise.

“I do not know why it has happened without notification,” said Chheng Phat, chief prosecutor at the Kandal provincial court. “This is a problem.”

Y Dan, secretary of state for the Ministry of Justice, said the problem originated with a computer er­ror that accidentally removed the names—including those of Su­preme Court Director Dith Mon­ty and Ap­peals Court Pro­se­cutor-Gen­er­al Han­rot Raken—from the payroll. Both men are members of the Su­­preme Council of Magis­tracy.

“We are working on this matter,” Y Dan said Tuesday.

But a senior official within the Min­istry of Justice hinted that the judges and prosecutors were re­moved as part of a deal negotiated between Funcinpec and the CPP to end the political deadlock following the 2003 national election.

“It is the government’s policy,” said one senior ministry of justice of­­ficial who asked not be named. “We cannot let [aging judges keep working]. We must do it now.”

According to a law governing the mandatory retirement of civil servants, employees are required to re­tire when they are 55 years old un­less a special statute is in­voked al­lowing them to retire at age 60.

But the law exempts judicial and legislative employees.

One court official railed against the payroll incident and claims it was linked to retirement.

“It is an execution before a hearing,” said the angry official, who al­so asked not be named. “If they want to make us retire, please make a law for us.”

Huot Hy, chief prosecutor at Kom­pong Thom provincial court, said he was not worried that he has not received his pay because he ex­pects he would be notified if he were being forced to retire.

Following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s pledge to crackdown on cor­rup­tion within the judiciary, the government in May dissolved the Supreme Council of Magis­tracy’s se­­­cretariat in what some called an e­f­fort to strengthen the government’s control over the judiciary.

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