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Activities/Successes

LEGAL SERVICES

CDP provides qualified legal servies to the poor and vulnerable people free of charge. CDP uses the experience it gains from its legal services to develop programs for improving legal awareness and advocating legal and judicial reform in Cambodia.

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During first 14 years, CDP represented 13,491.00 cases including 10,506.00 criminal cases and 2,985.00 civil cases. Among nearly 2,985.00 civil cases, there are 1477 land cases which equals to 49.5% of total civil cases. For some cases, CDP represented hundreds families only for one case.

Between 2002 and 2004, CDP cases were dropped because funders limited only serious human rights violation and not for general legal aid.


According to the diagram:

-More percentage of direct referrals (By client or his or her family) than others,
-Fewer cases referred by NGOs and more NGOs recruited lawyers for their own organization.
-In the year 2003, 2004 and 2005, the cases referred by the courts were decreased but increased in the year 2005 and 2006.

Because CDP’s cases were dropped, the win rates between the years 2002 to 2005 were up. The Iron Fist of Prime Minister announced in 2005. After that the win rates of CDP were dropped.

*      Achieved an exceptional 29% acquittal/dismissal rate overall in criminal cases;

*      Obtained the first acquittal in modern Cambodian judicial history by filing a motion to suppress the forced confession of a pregnant woman who suffered a miscarriage following torture at the hands of the police;

*      Filed the first bail motion in the new judicial system, securing the pre-trial release of a Cambodian editor jailed for publishing articles about an attempted coup;

*      Successfully filed and received the first ever restraining order to prevent a battering husband from selling his wife's property;

*      Ran a successful defense in the longest Cambodian trial in the past two decades - only three days - thereby securing the release of two human rights workers and eight others who had been arrested in violation of the rights to freedom of association and assembly. Most notably, CDP lawyers were instrumental in convincing the trial judge not to read the statements of absent witnesses - a first in recent Cambodian legal history.

LEGAL AWARENESS AND TRAINING

CDP believes that its mission to strengthen the rule of law will not be achieved if the law enforcement is weak. Rule of Law includes respect of the law by the people, enforcement of the law by law-enforcement agencies and application of 
the law by the court. So capacity building and legal awareness are very important. That's why, CDP chose legal awareness as one its main activites.

As one of the few groups of fully-trained lawyers in Cambodia, CDP takes seriously the vital work of disseminating legal knowledge and information to fellow professionals and the wider community. CDP's legal training and awareness programs are designed to improve law enforcement and respect for the law, as well as assisting human rights NGOs and other groups by enhancing their legal knowledge and improving the effectiveness of their programs.

In February 2000, CDP established the Legal Awareness Program, which provides for frequent training seminars on law, criminal investigation techniques, trial techniques and specific issues, such as domestic violence and trafficking in persons. The LAP targets lay people, NGO staff, law students, lawyers, and other legal professionals. In addition, CDP holds regular workshops and training sessions for police, military, prosecutors and judges throughout the country to help them to understand their rights and obligations under the law.

CDP also promotes general legal awareness through the media by making comments on legal and constitutional matters, and producing books and pamphlets on various aspects of Cambodian law and government.

Special Programs:

*      In recognition of the double burden faced by poor Cambodian women, CDP created the Women's Resource Center. Established in 1997, this unit was the first to offer legal services tailored to meet the needs of victims of domestic violence. The WRC conducts general training and "train the trainer" workshops for women's NGOs focusing on legal strategy, safety and protection issues, and the need to empower battered women by involving them in the legal decision-making process. Training is also given on the laws relating to domestic violence - marriage, family and criminal laws - to NGOs, government officials, police, lawyers and students. The WRC is committed to community education through the development, publication and distribution of information to raise awareness and promote women's legal rights and access to the court system.

In the Cambodian tradition, a husband can hit his wife if he thinks that his wife has done something wrong. The ordinary people and police often think that this kind of violence is an internal problem within the family. In many cases, police take no action at all.  However, the Cambodian criminal code states clearly that battery is a crime.  The WRC attempts to challenge traditional beliefs by using Cambodian law and the criminal code.

*      Following a successful workshop on trafficking held by CDP in 1998, CDP has led an NGO working group to discuss issues relating to trafficking in persons and to set a plan of action to fight against trafficking and assist trafficking victims. CDP is currently in the process of setting up its own trafficking unit to co-ordinate and implement anti-trafficking plans.


LEGAL ADVOCACY

The rule of law does not mean only implementation and enforcement of the law, but we need also good and fair laws and fair legal procdures. Even though the Constition is good and guarantee many rights of the people, the people will not enjoy those rights if the law limits those rights. That's why, CDP decided to do legal advocacy for sound legislation and to make sure that the pople can enjoy their rights like other liberal democratic countries. For this acitivities, CDP organized workshop, meeting with government officials, giving a speech in radio, publish bulletins and making comments on draft laws.

Many of Cambodia's most important laws were made before the present Constitution and do not reflect the basic concepts and principles of a liberal democracy introduced by the Constitution. It is therefore of vital importance that clear, understandable and fair laws are introduced that conform with Constitutional and human rights principles. CDP provides expert commentary on draft laws and promotes the participation of civil society in the legislative process by working closely with the government, NGOs and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia.

Cambodia currently has a huge backlog of draft laws waiting to be considered for passage by the legislature. These include a draft civil code, draft criminal procedure and penal codes, a draft law on judges and prosecutors, and a draft land law. In addition, CDP has recently given advice and comments on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Law, amendments to the State of Cambodia Criminal Law, and the Commune Election Law.

In addition to providing legal expertise and lobbying for change, CDP has been active in facilitating meetings and organizing workshops and other activities in which government officials, NGOs and international experts are able to engage in broad-ranging discussions with a view to finding solutions to difficult legal problems through cooperation and consensus. The role of CDP as a provider of expert advice and feedback will be extremely important over the coming year as increasing amounts of legislation is drafted and considered by the Royal Government and civil society.

 Over the past year, CDP has:

*      Organized several important workshops, in which participants from CDP, local NGOs, the criminal justice system along with foreign experts discussed and made recommendations for the reform of the administration of justice in Cambodia. Many of these recommendations have been subsequently taken up by other civil society actors and members of government and are helping to build a momentum for change.

*      Provided advice and comments on the following drafts: the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Law, Commune Election Law, Code of Criminal Procedure, Penal Code, Land Law, and amendments to the existing SOC criminal law.

*      Achieved a breakthrough in opening up the legislative process by becoming the first NGO to have its petition read by parliament and by receiving its first official request by a parliamentary committee to comment on draft legislation.

  

COOPERATION WITH THE BAR ASSOCIATION AND OTHER NGOs

CDP is committed to working with the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia in order to promote the rule of law through legal advocacy and public education. As a supporter of an independent Bar Association and independent legal aid organizations, CDP encourages participation of Bar Association leadership in CDP-led seminars and conferences. In this manner, CDP works to develop the integration of the legal community.

CDP also cooperates closely with other NGOs and is a member of various groups and coalitions that lobby government to improve the law and human rights. CDP is currently a member of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (COMFREL), which is seeking to reform the country's election laws, and the Human Rights Action Committee, a group of 17 Cambodian NGOs that work together and lobby Government on serious or controversial issues. The HRAC represents a significant part of Cambodian civil society and its statements carry considerable weight. CDPs input on laws and legal matters is an important ingredient in the work of these Committees – CDP's Executive Director, Mr Sok Sam Oeun, is currently serving as Chairman of their Legislative Sub-Committees and was recently elected to represent Cambodian NGOs at a Consultative Group Meeting in Paris.

CDP started providing training to the legal professionals on law and legal skills since 1998. During ten years, CDP trained 9359 people. About forty percent of them are police officers.

 
 
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