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Weak Judiciary Undermines Cambodian Human Rights


Mu Sochuo (R), Cambodia's lawmaker from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, waves the national flag during a protest to demand free and fair elections, at the Freedom Park in Phnom Penh April 24, 2013.

This year’s human rights report on Cambodia notes some improvement there, but key human rights concerns continue.

Every year the United States prepares a review of human rights around the world, sending a very clear message that all governments have a responsibility to protect universal human rights.


The country-by-country reports blaze a path forward for places where those rights are either threatened or denied, and reaffirm America’s commitment to advancing basic freedoms and dignity for all people and our support for the brave men and women around the world who are working toward that goal.

This year’s human rights report on Cambodia notes some improvement there, but key human rights concerns continue, including a weak judiciary, a flawed electoral process, restriction to the freedom of expression and interference with freedom of assembly.

In the most recent Cambodian national elections, held in 2008, the process improved over previous votes, but still failed to fully meet international standards. The nation’s courts lack human and financial resources and have been subject to corruption and political influence.

The weak judiciary exacerbates other human rights concerns. And its ineffectiveness in adjudicating land disputes arising from the government’s granting of economic land concessions, including to ruling party officials, fuels sometimes violent disturbances. The continued criminalization of defamation and disinformation and a broad interpretation of criminal indictment further constrain freedom of expression.

Additional human rights concerns in Cambodia include abuse of detainees, harsh prison conditions, arbitrary arrests and prolonged pretrial detentions. Meanwhile, human trafficking including men, women, and children persists.

The United States believes that, while no country has a perfect record on human rights, a government that endeavors to protect the rights of its citizens is best able to secure stability and achieve prosperity. A government that ignores the views of its citizens and uses intimidation, coercion, and the manipulation of democratic institutions to maintain control will lose opportunities to prosper and denies its people the ability to reach their full potential.
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