Pro Bono in Cambodia

by Allen Prak, P&A Asia | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 22 May 2015 11:04 GMT

A girl works at a rice paddy field on the outskirts of Phnom Penh August 20, 2014. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

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The Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) requires every lawyer who is admitted to the Bar to perform at least two cases on a pro-bono basis with a supervising attorney before the lawyer is fully admitted to the Bar.  However, once the lawyer is admitted, there is no continuing obligation for the lawyer to maintain his legal aid activity.

There are, however, a number of different legal aid programs in Cambodia which provides pro-bono services to low income individuals.

The legal aid situation in Cambodia is in critical need of improvement. The current legal aid providers are mainly NGOs funded by international donors. However, the Legal Aid Department (LAD) of BAKC also works to provide legal aid to the poor. However, the budget that the Government provides to the BAKC for this purpose is insufficient to meet the needs of the poor with an operational budget of only USD 50,000.

The small and decreasing number of legal aid lawyers is also one major challenge – in several provinces of Cambodia, there isn't a single legal aid lawyer working in the province. 

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