CAMBODIA: The progress and influence on law enforcement of the Cambodian Ministry of Interior

Pol Lim, Cambodian Ministry of Interior

The roles of the Cambodian Ministry of Interior are to:

1. Lead and govern provincial territories, people and public property;

2. Ensure national security and public order;

3. Urge development in all fields in order to improve living standard of people; and

4. Take responsibility for leading the national police, to ensure public order and national security.

The Ministry of Interior has used armed force, material means and finances to ensure national security and economic stability. Conditions have improved and people increasingly trust the government, as the Ministry has had a good relationship with prosecutors, all levels of courts, military police and other concerned authorities, especially the Ministry of Justice.

Judicial police and prosecutors have generally cooperated in order to perform their duties as required by law and according to their limited resources. Both judicial police and local authorities have accepted and seriously enforced all court decisions. The Ministry of Interior has in particular cooperated with prosecutors attached with the appellate court and Ministry of Justice to propose amendments to four articles of the State of Cambodia (SOC) Criminal Procedure Law, and make a new Law on Aggravating Punishment of Crime (adopted November 2001).

Two new articles of the SOC Criminal Procedure Law are articles 36 and 38. Article 36 states that the procedural and investigative operations of judicial police shall be led and facilitated by a prosecutor, in order to ensure their effectiveness. Under this provision, if a prosecutor cannot directly lead the judicial police, he or she can facilitate by other means and the police can accept that measure. Article 38 proposes extension of the maximum 48-hour detention period by judicial police investigating an offense meeting the following criteria:

1. It is a serious crime (felony);

2. There is some indication that the accused committed the crime;

3. Necessary measures are in place for conducting an effective investigation;

4. A written request is submitted to the prosecutor, with reasons for the extension request;

5. The extension is approved by the prosecutor and a written record of approval kept on the case file;

6. Special conditions apply to minors:

a. No extension over 48 hours for a minor under 18 years old is permitted.

b. Minors under 13 years old shall not be detained beyond 36 hours.

In short, the Ministry of Interior hopes and believes that the justice system will continue to progress through new legislation, human resource training and also reform of the judicial system, especially of the judicial police, who play important roles in suppressing and preventing offenses.

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