Court prosecutors and judicial police held an open meeting at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday to discuss the need for closer cooperation between the two groups in arresting and prosecuting criminals.
Appeal Court prosecutor general Ouk Savuth said the meeting was called due to the growing frustration of court prosecutors toward mistakes made by members of the judicial police—a special force of officers that undergo training to implement court orders.
“Court prosecutors and judicial police have to cooperate with each other to implement the rule of law, and stop blaming each other” when problems arise, Mr. Savuth told the meeting.
Some judicial police have been acting unlawfully by unilaterally deciding to arrest suspects upon the receipt of complaints from aggrieved members of public and then bringing them to the court for trial, Mr. Savuth said.
He stressed that judicial police could only arrest people on the express orders of a court, and that members of the public had to direct their complaints to the court itself.
“We must respect the rule of law, because when we respect the rule of law, we have peace and success,” he said.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Chiv Keng raised the issue of automatically suspended sentences.
Mr. Keng said that people sentenced on drug charges to less than a year in jail are not imprisoned, but instead released on probation. Previously, only people handed sentences of less than six months were automatically released.
Despite the new laws, Mr. Keng said, some judicial police were outright refusing court orders and still detaining suspects whom the court had ordered to be released.
“There have been a few misunderstandings, because when the court has handed down its interpretation, they [judicial police] did not believe the court,” he said.
He added that “some people” who were aware of the probation law had been going to the families of people facing drug use sentences of less than a year and promising to “secure” their release in exchange for money.
“The court loses face when opportunists do this, as people accuse the court of taking a bribe even though that is not true,” Mr. Keng said, asking for the practice to cease.
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