[JURIST] A quarter of criminal defendants in Cambodian courts are tortured or coerced into giving confessions, a statistic that has not changed since last year, according to an annual report [PDF text] released Thursday by Center for Social Development (CSD) [advocacy website]. The report found that:
Although duress is prohibited in Cambodia, CSD found a significant number of cases where defendants alleged of being victim of this inhuman practice to extract confession. At the six courts monitored by CSD, including the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court, 25.3% of defendants whose cases were monitored claimed having been coerced by judicial police officers...Speaking at a Thursday meeting to mark the report's release, US Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph Mussomeli criticized [speech text] Cambodian courts for not meeting procedural justice standards, saying that "there remains a good deal to be done before the people of the judicial system will earn the trust of the people of Cambodia."
Judges rarely followed up on these allegations. Adequate follow-up would include conducting further inquiry into the allegation or to prosecute perpetrator. At Phnom Penh Court, for example, with only five defendants out of a total of 292 defendants alleging coercion did the trial judges request the prosecution to prove that the confession was given freely and voluntarily.
The judicial review annual report is part of the CSD Court Watch Project [CSD backgrounder], which monitors courts to assure compliance with Cambodian and International standards of fair trial. DPA has more.