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Index shows equitable rule of law long way off

Index shows equitable rule of law long way off

Cambodia lags significantly in establishing a rule of law free from corruption, the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index shows.

The index, published last week by the international agency, ranks Cambodia as low as 94 out of 97 countries canvassed on some of the nine concepts based on four universal principles that, according to the WJP, are needed for a functioning rule of law.

These include an accountable government, security and fundamental rights, open government and regulatory enforcement, and the delivery of justice.

In last year’s survey, Cambodia ranked 66 out of the 66 countries surveyed.

In the 2012 index, the third in the annual series, Cambodia scored the lowest in the East Asia and Pacific region in nearly every category.

Globally, Cambodia was ranked 90 out of 97 countries in establishing effective limits on government power and 94th in regulatory enforcement and civil justice, according to the country profile published by the WJP.

The Kingdom stands significantly lower compared to its global and regional counterparts as an “accountable government”.

Cambodia showed strengths in some indicators for security and fundamental rights, achieving its highest scores in “absence of crime” and “civil conflict is effectively limited”.

In the other indicators for security and fundamental rights, however, the country scored relatively poorly with its lowest rank in ensuring “people do not resort to violence to redress personal grievances”.

It was the report’s findings on corruption, however, that dragged down Cambodia’s score the most.

“Cambodia is ranked lower than most other countries in the region on all dimensions.

“The overall legal and institutional environment remains quite weak, which is highlighted by low scores in key areas, including effective limits on government powers (ranking 90th); regulatory enforcement; access to civil justice; and absence of corruption (ranked 85th),” according to a WJP press release accompanying the report.

“Property rights are very weak, and police abuses remain a significant problem. On the other hand, Cambodia has lower crime rates than most countries in the low-income group,” the press release reads.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the findings echoed numbers and findings of other agencies that had been floated around for years.

“What they don’t understand is that we have been reforming the government for the past five years. We, the government, feel very satisfied with the system that exists and those agencies don’t understand [the realities],” Siphan told the Post.

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