Improving governance—including tackling corruption, strengthening public administration and maintaining law and order— is vital to Cambodia’s economic development. Strong institutions are needed to support a more diverse and inclusive economy, enhance human development and maintain social stability. Governance will be addressed through our broader investments in infrastructure, agriculture, health and education. We will also support a number of targeted governance programs in community policing, ending violence against women and the disability sector.
There has been substantial progress in the legal and judicial sector in Cambodia since 1992 and the first post-Khmer Rouge period democratic elections. Political stability and the end of conflict have led to decreases in politically-motivated crime and increases in the community perceptions of safety. With the exception of domestic violence there are reductions in officially-reported crime. Key legislation has been adopted. NGOs provide important justice service delivery, including legal aid, victim assistance and advocacy. Women and men are entitled to equal rights and status under land and property laws. Crime prevention and community safety are listed amongst the Royal Government of Cambodia’s development priorities.
Indicators suggest that Cambodia remains in the bottom 20 per cent of countries globally for rule of law. There is limited access to justice for many citizens especially vulnerable groups—the poor, survivors of domestic violence and rape, ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities. Violence against women and children remains a major issue. Cambodia ranked 150 out of 168 countries on the Transparency International 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index – similar to its ranking in 2014.
In accordance with the recommendations of a 2012 evaluation and as agreed between the Governments of Australia and Cambodia in 2012, Australia’s sector-wide assistance to the law and justice sector, delivered primarily through the Cambodia Community Justice Assistance Partnership, ended in June 2016. Australia’s remaining assistance in this sector will be to strengthen Cambodian police engagement with communities. Australia will also continue its support of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia) seeking justice for crimes against humanity committed by former Khmer Rouge officials.
Rates of violence against women in Cambodia are amongst the highest in the region, and act as a significant brake on productivity as well as having a large negative impact on family and community harmony. Australia is contributing to activities to respond to, and prevent, violence against women in Cambodia.
As a post-conflict country, Cambodia is subject to a number of risk factors which can lead to a high prevalence of disability. People with disability face many barriers and lack access to appropriate, quality and affordable healthcare, rehabilitation, education and disability services. These prevent them from full and effective participation in their society. The Royal Government of Cambodia has recognised these challenges and Australia is supporting them to take important steps to promote, protect and ensure the rights of people with disability in Cambodia.
Read the Office of Development Effectiveness Cambodia Case Study: Evaluation of Australian Law and Justice Assistance
Read Transparency International Cambodia: Corruption and Cambodia’s Governance System – The Need For Reform
Community Policing Initiative in Cambodia
$4.2 million, 2016-2019
The Community Policing Initiative works in partnership with the Cambodia National Police (CNP) which has committed to implement community policing as the foundation for service delivery by all 1,633 commune police posts in Cambodia. This initiative will assist the CNP in strengthening community policing management and oversight; performance effectiveness of commune police officers; police and community relations; and sustainability of a community policing approach in Cambodia.
This initiative complements the Ending Violence against Women Program and supports CNP-Australian Federal Police relationships.
Support to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
$39.0 million, 2003-2017
This initiative contributes to a multi-donor fund that supports the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a Tribunal set up to bring those most responsible for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge regime to justice (the Khmer Rouge Tribunal). In 2016, Australia provided $3.25 million to the Tribunal.
Australia has played an active role in supporting the Tribunal in the interests of justice and in pursuit of breaking down the culture of impunity which undermines Cambodia's development prospects. Our funding has contributed to the completion of the trial in Case 1 and the completion of the first trial in Case 2.
Cambodia Communications Assistance Project
$6.5 million, 2012-2018
Australia, through an Australian Broadcasting Commission program, is providing support to Cambodian provincial departments through the Cambodia Communications Assistance Project (CCAP) to enable them to reach Cambodia’s rural population via government radio. This program provides a bridge for citizens to listen, raise issues, ask questions and request action relating to government services and information. It also provides a platform for the Cambodian Government to communicate directly with communities at the sub-national level. CCAP has a specific radio program We Can Do It!, focusing on ending violence against women.
Ending Violence Against Women
Up to $20 million, 2012-2017
In February 2013, the Australian Government announced a major commitment to ending violence against women in Cambodia responding to the high rates of sexual and domestic violence in the country. Under the Ending Violence Against Women Program, our activities are brought under a coordinated management structure with Australia and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs at its centre.
Subsequent support focuses on three areas:
- Services—health, pyscho-social counselling, shelter, education and legal services to effectively respond to instances of violence against women.
- Prevention—working with government, civil society and private sector on community and institutional attitudes.
- Justice—working with law and justice institutions to improve policing responses.
These focus areas are underpinned by support for institutional capacity building and coordination as well as research and evidence to support policy and future programming.
Under this program, the Government of Cambodia’s Second National Action Plan on Violence Against Women has been finalised. Australia also funded the inclusion of disability and violence against women modules in the 2014 Cambodian Demographic Health Survey and the design and implementation of the first nationwide study into the prevalence of violence against women in Cambodia. In addition, close to 4,000 women and girls experiencing violence have been supported to access counselling, legal aid, medical services and shelter as well as being assisted to reintegrate with their families and communities.
Australia works closely with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs as well as with UN agencies such as UN Women, UN Population Fund and the World Health Organisation, other bilateral partners (Germany) and local and international NGOs such as The Asia Foundation, CARE Australia, Hagar and others to deliver its program.
Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia
$10.4 million, 2014 – 2017
The Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia (DRIC) is a joint United Nations – Australian aid program to improve quality of life for people with disability in Cambodia. Closely linked to the Royal Government of Cambodia’s overarching strategy for disability inclusion, the program will help ensure 'people with disability have increased opportunities for participation in social, economic, cultural and political life through effective implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan.’'
DRIC is implemented in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. The program includes four components:
- Supporting Government implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Supporting Disabled People's Organisations to raise the voice and protect the rights of people with disability
- Supporting rehabilitation systems strengthening
- Inclusive governance and inclusive community development