Data Collection Method

TIME FRAME AND LOCATION

The Database presents and analyzes data collected from criminal trials monitored at the courts of first instance: Phnom Penh, Kandal, B.Meanchey and Rattanakiri from August 2009 until present.




FOCUS OF THE TRIAL MONITORING

The monitoring of trials focuses on certain fair trial rights in accordance with the Cambodian context:

  • Right to a public hearing;
  • Right to be tried without undue delay;
  • Right to understand the nature of the charge;
  • Right to an explanation of rights owed to the accused;
  • Right to adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense;
  • Right to legal representation and to be present at trial;
  • Right to the presumption of innocence;
  • Right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal;
  • Evidence rights (including the right to call and examine witnesses);
  • Right to full disclosure of evidence for the preparation of the defense;
  • Right against self-incrimination (not to confess guilt as a result of coercion or inducement);
  • Prohibition against retroactive application of penal legislation (being tried for an offense that was not an offense at the time it was committed); and
  • Rights of Juveniles.




INFRASTRUCTURE

In order to effectively and efficiently record relevant trial data, CCHR designed a trial-monitoring checklist for use in court by CCHR Trial Monitors. This checklist is tailor-made for the Project and includes approximately 70 questions, the answers to which indicate whether fair trial rights have been adhered to. Most questions have four possible answers: yes ("Y"), no ("N") and either not applicable ("N/A") or information unknown ("I/U"). CCHR has also developed a one-page annex to the checklist for use in trials involving juveniles. Through the Checklist, Trial Monitors monitor adherence to fair trial rights throughout the trial as a whole and monitor fair trial rights of individual accused.

With consideration of the brevity of the Checklist, CCHR compiled comprehensive Guidance note to ensure uniform interpretation of each Checklist question and understanding of the legal basis and purpose of each question. This Checklist Guidance is vital for ensuring comprehensive understanding of each question and serves to ensure consistency among Trial Monitors, present and future. Another tool, which outlines the relevant national and international law underpinning each question in the Checklist the Law Bank, is provided to the Trial Monitors to enable easy reference to the relevant international and national laws underpinning each of the fair trial rights monitored.

The trial monitors are bound by the obligations of non-interference, objectivity and confidentiality outlining in the code of conduct.




MONITORING PROCEDURE

For the purposes of the Project, one Trial Monitor is assigned to each court, enabling the Trial Monitors to become familiar with the court to which they are assigned and to build relationships with judges and court staff. CCHR monitored trials based on court schedules in order to produce objective data and an arbitrary sample of trials.

For each trial attended, data is recorded directly on the Checklist. The information sought is limited to the trial process itself and therefore no additional interviews or dialogue took place, with the exception of efforts made to record verdicts that were handed down after the trial.

After each trial, the data from the Checklist is entered into the Database. The Database reflects the questions within the Checklist and was constructed using Microsoft Visual Basic. In addition to storing the data extracted from the checklists, the Database is designed to analyze the stored data, for example, flagging pre-trial detention periods that exceed statutory limits. As the Project proceeds, the Database will be developed further. Over time, the Database will contain an extensive catalogue of data and become an invaluable resource for CCHR and other organizations working to promote fair trials in Cambodia.




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