Political situation Considerable governance shortcomings

Since 1993, Cambodia has had a constitutional monarchy and a democratic multi-party system. The political climate had deteriorated in the run-up to the parliamentary elections held in 2018, but now scope is re-emerging for civil society activity.

A tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has obstructed the work of politicians critical of the government, and used legislative, administrative and judicial powers to put pressure on political opponents and independent media, and to restrict the activities of civil society.

After its opponents, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), received more than 40 per cent of the votes cast in the communal elections in June 2017, the government stepped up its crackdown on the opposition: the CNRP was dissolved and its leaders either arrested or forced into exile. According to the official count, the governing CPP received 77 per cent of the votes cast in the parliamentary elections held in July 2018, winning all 125 seats in parliament. Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled over the country without interruption since 1985, was confirmed in office.

The European Union described the election result as lacking credibility and "not representative of the democratic will of the Cambodian electorate".

Human rights

In Cambodia, freedom of opinion, freedom of association and freedom of assembly are all curbed. There have been repeated instances of undesirables being arbitrarily arrested; in addition to political opponents, groups like homeless people, street children, prostitutes and people with disabilities have also been targeted.

Although the constitution accords them equality, women suffer discrimination, especially regarding access to justice, land and the labour market. Violence against women is widespread.

Since 2000, more than half a million people have had their land seized and have been forcibly resettled as a consequence of land concessions awarded to national and foreign companies. The inhabitants of informal urban settlements, small farmers and members of indigenous peoples are particularly affected by this issue.

Corruption

Corruption is widespread in Cambodia and is traditionally hardly questioned in Cambodian society. Whereas backhanders in everyday life are declining, large-scale corruption remains a problem. Legislation to combat corruption has only been in place since 2010. In the education and health sectors, in particular, bribes are a way to top up low salaries. Corruption also plays a major role when it comes to the awarding of land use rights.

On the Corruption Perceptions Index published in 2019 by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International, Cambodia ranks 162nd out of the 180 countries indexed.