Given the many challenges that Cambodia faces, the country has made significant political and economic strides in recent years. It is enjoying increasing political stability and is slowly recovering from 30 years of war, including the atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge era. Cambodia's economy has been the seventh fastest growing economy in the world over the last decade.
The Cambodian government allowed greater freedom to the political opposition during the 2008 elections than in previous elections and shown some willingness to engage on civil liberties and human rights. The government recently passed massive anti-corruption legislation and revised its penal code. These are significant steps in Cambodia's fight against corruption. Cambodia has also made progress in combating human trafficking and HIV/AIDS.
Despite a generally positive trend on most of Cambodia's domestic matters, several economic and political issues continue to be cause for significant concern. Most Cambodians remain poor, with endemic corruption limiting efforts to improve the standard of living. The government needs a more comprehensive, coordinated response to improve the competiveness of Cambodia's economy. Irregular adherence to rule of law, including labor laws, and incomplete regulatory framework and underdeveloped human resources hinder Cambodia's full development potential.
On the political front, expression is stifled, including use by government officials of criminal defamation and disinformation laws to intimidate and prosecute politicians and journalists. The judiciary remains weak, often corrupt, politicized, and overwhelmed. Arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings remain a problem.
The U.S. continues to encourage the Cambodian government to uphold human rights and the rule of law. U.S. assistance goes to support legal and judicial reform, land rights, anti-corruption, the rights of women and children, and prevention of human trafficking. In all, the U.S. is aiding Cambodia's development in fiscal year 2010 with more than $72 million.
It is vital that Cambodia build on its success over the past few years, and address these political and economic issues in order to achieve its full democratic and economic potential. The United States will continue to be Cambodia's partner and help it to achieve a more secure, democratic, and prosperous future.