Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor


The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Cambodia to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Cambodia's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

Building the capacity of both government and civil society in human rights, rule of law, democracy, and accountability are key priorities of the United States. U.S. officials continue to promote greater transparency in government, action to fight corruption, and citizen participation in the political process. The U.S. Government encourages the local governments to be more responsive and accountable to the citizenry in implementing public policy. The U.S. Government encourages openness in public political discourse, political pluralism, and civic participation and responsibility. The U.S. Government seeks to strengthen NGOs that monitor and investigate human rights abuses and that advocate, support, and monitor legal and political rights. In addition, U.S. officials and U.S.-supported NGOs address the issues of land reform, use of restraint during legal evictions, and efforts to fight corruption. The United States supports the government's goal of combating trafficking in persons. The U.S. Government works to protect worker rights and combat the worst forms of child labor. U.S.-sponsored programs promote freedom of the press and civil rights and encourage equal access to educational and employment opportunities for the country's Muslim community.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

U.S. officials use public fora and press events to deliver remarks on a range of topics related to good governance, including the conduct of free and fair elections; implementation of the recently passed Anti-Corruption Law; the need for judicial reform and independence; government transparency; and respect for a free press. U.S. officials continue to discuss good governance and human rights concerns with numerous ministers and government officials, including senior officials.

Good governance programs funded by the U.S. Government focus on improving accountability, transparency, and responsiveness of elected officials in the national legislature and local commune councils. This includes 24 constituency dialogues in 12 provinces involving 62 National Assembly members and working with 356 commune councils in eight provinces. These dialogues provide citizens with the opportunity to interact with their elected representatives to express their concerns. U.S. Government support for the implementation of the new Anti-Corruption Law includes the provision of training and technical assistance to the government's new anticorruption investigation and enforcement agency.

U.S. officials continue to press for strengthening the rule of law and ensuring judicial independence while reducing corruption in the administration of the courts. One U.S.-funded program helped the Ministry of Justice to increase transparency by developing an automated central case management system to track case resolutions, as well as to facilitate internal court communication through e-mail, a relative rarity within the country's government ministries. The program also provides a course on alternative dispute resolution to law students. Under a new memorandum of understanding with the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia, a legal aid internship program, funded by the U.S. Government, provides lawyer trainees with training and supervision. This program will be expanded to other areas of cooperation with the Bar Association, including legal education and reform. The U.S. Government announced an additional contribution to the UN side of the hybrid Khmer Rouge Tribunal and supported the resolution of corruption allegations in the court administration. In addition, the United States continues to support the country's only independent NGO devoted to documenting the crimes against humanity committed by the Pol Pot regime. U.S. efforts to promote media freedom centered on programs to educate journalists on their role in a democratic society and to improve the quality of reporting, particularly on economic issues.

The U.S. Government sponsored training of government spokespersons in an effort to increase transparency and the flow of information between the government and its constituency. The U.S. Government continued to distribute copies of An Effective Press Office, a publication that emphasizes the importance of a free press in democracies and the role that government officials play in media relations.

U.S. officials promote the opening of political space by supporting human rights groups that focus on access to civil, political, and legal rights. The United States provides funding for, engages with, and promotes local NGOs that provide investigative, legal, or other assistance related to alleged human rights abuses. U.S. assistance helped train communities in advocacy techniques such as building grassroots networks, leading to the filing of coordinated public complaints against concessions and land grabbers.

U.S.-funded local legal defense NGOs continue to provide legal aid services for the poor. U.S. Government funding helped to launch a new public interest law firm, a model for provision of legal representation to indigent clients in public interest related cases. In addition, the United States funds programs to educate workers about their rights under the Labor Code and Constitution, and provides technical support in negotiating collective-bargaining agreements with employers and combating the worst forms of child labor. Combating trafficking in persons is a vital component of the U.S. strategy to promote human rights. In partnership with NGOs, government ministries and law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Government supports government efforts to combat trafficking in persons and prosecute trafficking offenders.