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Judiciary hampers TI corruption score

Cambodia's public institutions are viewed as the most corrupt in Southeast Asia, according to the annual Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which was launched yesterday.

The latest CPI, which ranks the perception of state corruption across the world, showed the Kingdom scored the same rating as last year, 21 out of 100, making Cambodia the worst performer in ASEAN, falling behind Myanmar, whose rating crept up one point to 22 (with zero being “highly corrupt” and 100 “very clean”).

TI Cambodia chairman Ok Serei Sopheak said widely perceived corruption within Cambodia’s judiciary was a major reason the Kingdom failed to make any improvements.

“Justice is really dragging down everything,” Sopheak said, explaining that the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2015, in which Cambodia was ranked 98th out of 102 countries, was used to assess the country’s justice sector.

“The other indicators are either staying at the same level or going up . . . The justice situation is getting worse.”

Cambodia’s legal system is routinely criticised amid reports of widespread bribery and political influence.

A report by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute last year found “corrupt influence – political and financial – appears to be exerted at will over judicial activities”.

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said the findings would be taken into consideration, though added the index was negatively geared and narrowly focused. “It reflects one small part [of the system], but it is not completely true,” Malin said.

Among the rest of the ASEAN countries, Singapore scored highest with 85, followed by Malaysia, 50; Thailand, 38; Indonesia, 36; the Philippines, 35; Vietnam, 31; and Laos, 25.

Overall, Cambodia ranked 150 of 168 countries surveyed, tying with Burundi and Zimbabwe.

The Kingdom’s ranking improved in 2014, but only because fewer nations were included this year, which saw Somalia and North Korea tie for last place.

Scoring 91, Denmark was considered the cleanest country, followed by Finland, Sweden, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

The index’s data come from surveys and analysis conducted by other agencies and institutions, which TI says represents the views of experts, business people and the public.

Anti-Corruption Unit chief Om Yentieng yesterday questioned TI’s data-collection method, claiming the information was “biased”, discredited and did not reflect reality.

Opposition CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay, an anti-corruption crusader, called the results troubling. “If we don’t improve our fight against corruption, investors will be afraid of coming to Cambodia,” he said.

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