Kosal started to work for IBJ in December 2012 as a provincial lawyer in Takeo (DRC1) where he is providing legal services to the accused of misdemeanor or felony crimes who cannot hire a lawyer for themselves.
Born in Kandal Province, he graduated Diploma Associated Degree of Law in 2003 and continued in graduating a Bachelor Degree of Law from the Royal Phnom Penh University of Law and Economic in 2005. In 2007 he joined the Lawyer Training Center (LTC) and worked as a trainee lawyer for Legal Aid of Cambodia in 2008. He also completed numerous courses including Computer, Administrative and Secretarial, Marketing and English.
In 2009, Kosal worked as a lawyer for Legal Aid of Cambodia in Koh Kong province where he provided legal representation and consultation to rural poor people.
Kosal works with Chan Vanny, lawyer assistant and investigator in DRC 1 since 2011, and with Khut Sreymom, office assistant also with IBJ since 2011. After gaining experience with IBJ on the ground for the past years, Chan Vanny just passed the Bar Exam and became a lawyer in November 2015.
IBJ lawyer avoids detention for his client after family dispute
Early April 2013 at 3 pm in the afternoon, Sothun (name changed) and his relatives went to the family vault in Kampot province, in the south of Cambodia, where his grand-father and his brother are buried. According to the tradition, they had decided to call all family members to pay homage to their deceased ancestors. While waiting for other members of his family, he started the worship with the ones already on the scene.
After a short while, the other family branch arrived. Sothun’s youngest brother asked his aunt, who arrived with the last crew, why they were delayed. She was apparently upset and minced that their moto broke down on the way, as they are poor people who cannot have a car. Then she noticed marks on the grave’s soil, which made her believe that her relatives had already performed the worship without waiting for them. She started to insult them. A dispute exploded between the two groups. Overwhelmed, Sothun stepped in and tried to stop the argument and to persuade everyone to rise above rancor on that special day.
Yet, Sothun’s cousin, Key, did not listen and let the argument escalate, now directly verbally attacking Sothun and coming close to a physical fight. Finally, Sothun’s brother manage to calm every one down, and both sides of the family went back home with a certain hint of resentment.
However, few months later, Sothun received a warrant from the court requesting him to join procedures. Sothun visited ADHOC, an organization nearby his brother’s house, which referred him to the IBJ’s office in Takeo and Kampot provinces. Ly Kosal, IBJ’s lawyer based in these provinces, received the case in February 2014. Sothun learned that Key had brought a complaint against him for threat to commit an offense.
Sothun did not directly show up before the court as he was afraid to be detained. He recalled his fear to be deprived of his liberty and not to be able to support his family. He is a seller of sugar cane in a factory and a father of three who already has a hard time to make ends meet. He acknowledged fearing the court system due to his low education. He said that he would not know how to protect himself and defend his rights. After meeting with Kosal, he started to regain confidence and to see all of this story in a more hopeful way.
Kosal managed to avoid pretrial detention for his client, although it was requested by the prosecutor to the investigating judge. He started to investigate and met with Sothun’s relatives to know their version of the facts. In parallel, he asked the Commune Chief in the area of Sothun’s house to write a letter detailing Sothun’s characteristics and certifying that there had never been a problem with his behavior in the community. Kosal submitted this letter, showing that Sothun was known to be a very law-abiding citizen, to the court. To strengthen his defense, Kosal also asked a similar letter to the hospital which examined Sothun and established that he was in shock and overwhelmingly stressed because of the criminal action against him.
After submission of both letters, the court held a hearing where Kosal also brought an eye-witness to testify on the facts of the incident. The lawyer plead to convince the court to dismiss the case, showing that his client did not have the intention to threaten the plaintiff but was instead trying to prevent a fight.
With Kosal’s strong defense, the judge decided to dismiss the case, stopping all procedures against Sothun. With his fears relieved, Sothun felt happy to know what a lawyer is and how to contact one if necessary. He reckoned that he was still not confident in the justice system, but could believe that a positive outcome was possible with the help of a defender. Since the dispute, he did not meet his relatives again.
A Love Story Gone Wrong: A Story of a False Rape Accusation and a Forced Marriage Attempt
Borin (name changed) is a normal Cambodian fifteen year old, he likes talking to his friends, and regularly attended school, at school he met at a girl he started dating and they soon fell in love. He moved in to live with her at her family’s house and their life together seemed to be going well. However, the girl’s family decided that her, being sixteen years old and him, being fifteen it was time for them to get married. Borin’s mother did not allow this to happen, thinking they were too young to be married, her belief was her son should wait until he is at least 20 before making such a significant decision. While she did not want them to have a large wedding ceremony, she was not opposed to an engagement between them, and as such they had a small sacred marriage ceremony where they prayed to the gods together which signified their engagement. The girlfriend’s family decided after this, that it was not satisfactory to them. They turned sour towards Borin and wanted to send him away to a province far away to work and begin making a living. Borin told his family about this, and he was fortunately able to move back home immediately.
Following this turn of events, the girlfriend’s family was upset and the next thing they did was make a complaint saying that Borin had raped his girlfriend. They had been having consensual sex previously before, and the mother was aware of this. However, the parents entirely made up these claims and were trying to force the marriage to happen, they wanted Borin to be forced to marry her as a punishment for the crime.
At around the same time, Borin’s parents went to pick up his clothes from the girl’s house. A few days later, they were accused by the family of stealing $1000 and tearing apart the family’s house. Some of Borin’s family had heard about IBJ through the radio, and recommended they try to see if IBJ could help them out of this immensely difficult situation.
Luckily for them, the IBJ lawyer was able to intervene. Without a lawyer it is likely that Borin would have been detained by the investigating judge, as that is what the family was attempting to pressure the prosecutor towards. Ly Kosal, the IBJ lawyer in Takeo and Kampot provinces, accompanied Borin to all of the prosecution’s interrogations, gave oral arguments, and motioned for the case to be filed without processing. The interrogations would have been much more intimidating for Borin, a young fifteen year old who was not sure how to answer many of the questions, but Kosal guided him through with no trouble. Kosal began to investigate, and met with Borin’s relatives to learn about the client’s behavior. He also went to the house and used a birth certificate to prove that he was of age to have sex legally as an adult. Combining the facts that they had had sex previously, it was consensual, and the girlfriend herself had made no actual complaint, Kosal was able to put together a strong case for his innocence. This was successful, Kosal proved that the elements for a rape case had not been met, and eventually the prosecutor agreed to file the case without processing, essentially dropping the case.
Currently, Borin’s family’s case is at the investigating judge’s stage, and without a lawyer’s presence they would likely be detained as well. Kosal explained that the girl was there at the time, as were the neighbors in their house and nobody reported seeing anything untoward. As a result, Kosal believes the facts suggest the claims were completely exaggerated.
Today, Borin is happily back in school, albeit a year behind where he should be as the ordeal of the case caused him to drop out of school. His ambition is when he is older to work as a cook like his father, right now he works on watering plants for farmers when he can. As for his relationship status, he no longer speaks to the aforementioned girl, he explained he no longer loves her after all the chaos her family had caused him, and has no reason to speak to her.