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 161 out of 180 countries on the Transparency International 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index.
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 continued assistance in this sector by strengthening 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
Australia-Cambodia Cooperation on Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS)
$15 million, 2018-2021
ACCESS aims to improve the sustainability, quality and inclusiveness of services for persons with disabilities and for women affected by gender-based violence (GBV). The program works in partnership with the Cambodian government to support the implementation of the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women (NAPVAW) and the National Disability Strategic Plan (NDSP).
ACCESS reflects Australia’s strong commitment to supporting human rights, gender equality and disability-inclusive development in our region.
The program recognises Cambodia’s transition to (lower) middle-income status and increasing access to public and private sector funding. ACCESS works with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth, the Disability Action Council and the Ministry of Economy and Finance to plan and use resources more effectively for GBV and disability-related services.
ACCESS is also strengthening the capacity of Cambodian government, civil society and private sector service providers to sustainably improve services for persons with disabilities and women affected by GBV. For persons with disabilities, services include physical rehabilitation services and inclusive economic services. For women affected by GBV, ACCESS is targeting health care, legal protection services, and other critical social services, while supporting a coordinated, multi-sectoral approach to service delivery.
Data and Dialogue for Development in Cambodia
$2.9 million, 2019-2022
Ponlok Chomnes aims to strengthen the capacity of Cambodian institutions to undertake quality research that informs public policy analysis and dialogue in Cambodia. This goal will be realised through a set of mutually-reinforcing activities conducted under four program objectives to: i) increase understanding of Cambodia’s knowledge sector; ii) strengthen the capacity and networking ability of established knowledge sector institutions; iii) support research by emerging knowledge sector actors; and iv) promote thoughtful and inclusive policy dialogue and analysis.
The program is managed by The Asia Foundation (TAF) and is working with think tanks, universities, civil society organisations and government agencies to support their engagement in constructive policy discussions. It will also seek to leverage models and expertise from Australia and other Southeast Asian countries.
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 is assisting 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 Australia’s support for services for women affected by gender-based violence and supports CNP-Australian Federal Police relationships.
Support to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
$44 million, 2003-2020
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).
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, 2012-2019
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.
Recently completed initiatives
Ending Violence Against Women
$13.4 million, 2012-2017
The Cambodia Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW) program focused on changing attitudes and preventing violence so that women and girls can feel safe in their homes, workplace and communities.
Violence against women and girls is widespread, systemic and culturally entrenched in Cambodia. According to the most recent prevalence data, at least one in five women between the ages of 15 and 64 have ever suffered physical or sexual intimate partner violence.
The EVAW program support focused on three areas:
- Access to services— such as health, psycho-social counselling, shelter, education and legal services for women experiencing violence.
- Prevention—working with government, civil society and private sector on community and institutional attitudes.
- Justice—increasing opportunities to access justice for women who experience violence.
These focus areas were underpinned by support for institutional capacity building and coordination as well as research and evidence to support policy and future programming.
Program achievements include:
- The Second National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women, the key whole-of-government policy on violence against women (VAW), was adopted by Cambodia in December 2014. It is now being used to drive whole-of-government policies and actions on violence against women.
- National data collection surveys funded by Australia – the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (CDHS) and the VAW Prevalence Study – were launched in late 2015 giving the Government of Cambodia and other stakeholders reliable information on the prevalence of VAW in Cambodia for the first time.
- Over the life of the program: 12,907 women and their families were provided with shelter, counselling, legal aid or peer support services; 18,337 people were trained or participated in community awareness programs; and 2,938 people were recipients of legal response activities.
- Nine documented practice guidelines and associated training manuals were developed, approved, published and implemented to provide information and advice to service providers delivering services to victims of violence. These included: Minimum Service Standards for Basic Counselling to Survivors of Gender Based Violence against Women; Referral Guidelines for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence against Women, and National Guidelines for Managing Violence against Women and Children in the Health System.
- A Community Alcohol Notification System (CANS) and Media Code of Conduct were also developed and implemented, helping to change community and institutional attitudes and prevent violence from occurring.
Australia worked 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 Organization, other bilateral partners (Germany) and local and international NGOs such as The Asia Foundation, CARE Australia, Hagar and others to deliver the program.
A combined disability and EVAW program is now being implemented: the Australia-Cambodia Cooperation on Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS) program.
Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia
$10.4 million, 2014 – 2017
The Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia (DRIC) was 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 helped 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 was implemented in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. The program included 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