Member of Cambodian Bar Association,
Students of Lawyer Training Center,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today, I have a great honor and pleasure to joint you all, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Members of Cambodian Bar Association and all the Lawyer Students, in inaugurating and turning over the new building of Cambodian Bar Association.
First of all, I would like to extend my congratulation to all the students of fifth batch who just successfully graduated from Lawyer Training Center. I highly appreciate and praise the Cambodian Bar Association that always maintains professional independency in contributing to and serving the judicial sector, as well as in practicing its profession to claim for democracy, to demand and fight for every citizen for equal rights before the law, and protect basic human rights provided under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Moreover, it should be noted that though the association’s functions and activities are not funded by national budget, it has proudly operated with its independent funds raised from the contribution by its members in order to support its professional practices and fulfill its role in serving the judicial sector including the development of human resource, which is worth to be proud.
Indeed, it is very important for a democratic country to promote both quality and quantity of lawyer practitioners to build up a reliable, transparent, and fair judicial system.
Lawyers have an important role in claming, protesting and protecting basic individual freedom, both either inside or outside dispute coverage to assist authorities to enforce laws and use judicial system with equality, justice and transparency. Professional role and functions of lawyers also encourage public authorities, justice police and law enforcement officers to carefully implement and process their cases according to the provision of laws, otherwise lawyers immediately protest, as a saying goes “Excellent Judge because of Excellent Lawyer”.
In Cambodia, the Royal Government of Cambodia has developed the “Rectangular Strategy” in which judicial reform is an important element for an effective and successful reform process linked to legislative bodies, law enforcement agencies, and professional roles and functions of lawyers.
I would like to express my appreciation again to the Cambodian Bar Association for successful cooperation with the development partners and donor countries, non-governmental organizations and civil society, including cooperation with Japan through JICA and Japanese Bar Federation, with Canada through CIDA and Canadian Bar Association, with the United State of America through American Bar Association and EWMI, with France through Lyon Bar Association, and with UNICEF and UNDP. Those organizations have provided training support to increase the quantity and strengthen the quality of Cambodian Lawyers, and technical and financial support for lawyers defending Cambodian poor, both legal or minor persons.
Being aware of these efforts, the Royal Government has granted annually a counterpart fund of 200 millions riels and other 50 millions riels from my own budget for the operation of lawyers for poor defendants.
Indeed, these budgets have not yet met the needs of poor Cambodians nationwide, while many law suits are being unprocessed. In order to ensure the access to just and equal defense for all citizens, especially the poor and vulnerable children and women, on behalf of the RG, I thank for the cooperation provided by our development partners from various countries and institutions that have supported us in terms of budget support and technical and spiritual assistance for the development of lawyers’ capacity and number. I also thank them for their contribution to the strengthening of democracy, respect of basic human rights and the rights to defense and equal justice to all Cambodians.
I take this opportunity to appeal to all the development partners to continue supporting and assisting activities of the bar association in order to help the justice sector as well as legal and judiciary reforms that contribute to fruitful achievement from the implementation of the “Rectangular Strategy” of the Royal Government in the third mandate of the National Assembly. I also appeal to all national institutions, especially legal institutions concerned to cooperate and provide more opportunity to lawyers and their career in sharing their opinions as well as to assure respect of principles, procedures and laws in Cambodia. In reality, for this purpose we need to provide an open and widely access to the information on our transparent tasks to lawyers who defend and represent their clients – the poor farmers or business people – in order to ensure the confidence in our activities as public agency and as the server of the public interest.
As we have seen here, the administrative building of the bar association of Cambodia which is to be inaugurated today is a grant from the RGC through the Municipality of Phnom Penh and my own budget for the reparation works. This has only single objective of contributing to the support of legal institutions of our Nation in order to assure their activities in serving the justice sector, exercising their duties in legal reform and strengthening the rule of law in Cambodia. Even if the building is small in size which does not really respond to the needs of big conference room, training rooms for members of the bar that are more than 300 in number, which is increasing; this building has contributed to handle difficulties that the bar has encountered such as expenditures on rents. I hope that the efforts of the management of the bar will successfully handle the remaining difficulties.
Taking this opportunity, I highly appreciate the efforts of local authorities at all level, the Municipality of Phnom Penh, concerned institutions that have coordinated with the management of the bar to organize complete reparation and improvement of this building.
I convey the management and member of the bar to continue exercising your noble duty in the justice sector, legal reform and strengthening strong and efficient independence of your profession.
On behalf of H.E. Sar Kheng, H.E. Sok An, H.E. Prum Sokha and myself, I also take this opportunity to thank the bar for accepting us as lawyers and we have sworn in yesterday. Even if we have suspended the duty as lawyers because of incompetence with the public function and incapability in defending clients, we always find a way to help the bar to go on with its righteous objective and progress. At the same time, I promise that when my political career comes to its term, I will take the duty of being a lawyer to defend poor defendants free of charge. This is the spirit inherited from my grand mother, who was exercising this career during the 1950s and 60s.
According to the report of the Reparation and Improvement Committee, the total cost of this works is USD28,000. I have contributed USD22,500 already, however, the bar is still short of USD5,500. Thus, I would like now to provide another USD5,500 to cover the full cost which is the contribution from Oukgna Try Heng, and another USD9,374 for stationary, office supplies and robes for the 74 new lawyers.
Finally, I wish you all good health and success in your endeavors to serve the country, especially in contributing to the strengthening of rule of law in Cambodia. I would like now to declare the opening of this new building for the Cambodian Bar Association from now on.