Professional Court Clerks School Is on the Way

A professional school to train court clerks is in the works, ac­cording to Minister of Cabinet Sok An.

Sok An did not disclose when the school might open or how many students it will train, but he said the 800 clerks now working in the judiciary lacked the necessary training.

“The clerks now have not been trained, so we must have a school to train them so that they have the skills,” he said, speaking at a dormitory inauguration at the Administration School.

The announcement last week garnered cautious praise from observers, who say the clerk system today is highly politicized and corrupt. Anyone who has been em­ployed at the Justice Ministry for two years or more and holds a bachelor’s degree in law is eligible to work as a clerk, said Suy Nou, the ministry’s secretary of state.

The dearth of specialized training, among both clerks and many judges, has been cited as one of the judicial system’s many shortcomings. Too many clerks an­swer to a certain political party before their duties, said Ky Tech, president of the Cambodian Bar Asso­ciation. “Currently the clerk is ap­pointed by the political parties. They don’t have enough skill to work,” he said.

“When they go to school, they will know their duties and corruption will be reduced,” he said.

Sok An said the school will professionalize the trade and pare down the number of clerks in the country to the ratio of three to each judge. At present there are some 800 clerks serving 195 judges, he said.

“The number must be more equivalent in order to have good process,” Sok An said.

Sok Sam Oeun, a lawyer with the Cambodian Defenders Pro­ject, said the school would succeed if it is depoliticized. He said a private institute should ad­minister the school, not the CPP-dominated Council of Mini­sters. He added that many clerks are as corrupt as some judges and are guilty of regularly accepting bribes.

“Both judge and clerk commit corruption the same,” Sok Sam Oeun said.

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