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Corruption Pervades all Systems of Cambodia

Transparency International (“TI”) and the Center for Social Development (“CSD”) today released a National Integrity System (“NIS”) Study of Cambodia showing that although the government shows some signs of political will against corruption, after a decade of cautious political peace and billions of U.S. dollars in aid, the systems in place to promote integrity and prevent corruption are still weak and lack the capacity to carry out their functions properly.

The NIS Study of Cambodia found that corruption has pervaded almost every sector of the country. The payment of unofficial fees is necessary to secure any range of services, including medical care, education credentials and even birth certificates. While these everyday forms of corruption have become so prevalent that households acknowledge them as routine, no Cambodian regards them as fair or acceptable. However, challenging these demands is seen by most as pointless, as the average citizen does not feel powerful enough to confront or change the system.

The Study made a number of recommendations to address this challenge. First and foremost, it emphasized that the government must demonstrate its political will to fight corruption by following through on its commitment to enact and implement an Anti-Corruption Law and ensure that this law complies with internationally accepted standards.

A Freedom of Information Law and legislation guaranteeing access to information are desperately needed and would, at the very least, enhance the legal framework necessary for increased transparency within government agencies.

Existing anti-corruption bodies need to either be reformed and strengthened or dissolved into the Supreme National Council against Corruption, the proposed national-level anti-corruption body to be established through the Anti-Corruption Law.

Judicial reform is vital to improving the country’s current integrity system. Without the guarantee and protection of fair and impartial judgment, no citizens or government officials will be willing to speak out against fraudulent behavior.

Finally, the Study concluded that the government, international donors and civil society must work together and continue to demand greater transparency across all sectors of the country. Unified support and a genuine will are essential elements to improving governance.

A degree of political will for reform exists within the government, but the reality is that those in power have little reason to change a system that has secured them much power and personal wealth. Stricter costs imposed by the donor community would serve to pressure the government and effect real change.

The NIS Study of Cambodia is part of a regional project to analyze the integrity systems in East and South East Asia. 9 studies are being completed in 2006 as part of this series, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The concept of the NIS has been developed and promoted by Transparency International as part of TI’s holistic approach to combating corruption. While there is no blueprint for an effective system to prevent corruption, there is a growing international consensus as to the salient institutional features that work best to prevent corruption and promote integrity. The country studies are based on an assessment of the quality of institutions relevant to the overall anti-corruption system and analyse the key institutions, laws and practices that contribute to integrity, transparency and accountability in a society and the extent to which they function in practice.

This NIS Study of Cambodia will be released in both Khmer and English languages at the Launching Ceremony of three other CSD anti-corruption publications at the Himawari Hotel from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.: (i) Our Country, Our Future (with Pact Cambodia), (ii) Anti-Corruption Picture Book and (iii) Documentation of Corruption Cases.

Download the National Integrity System (“NIS”) Study of Cambodia.

About the Center for Social Development

The Center for Social Development (“CSD”) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. CSD was established in Phnom Penh since 1995 (recognized by the Council of Ministers in 1995 and the Ministry of Interior in 2001) and seeks to promote democratic values and improve the quality of life of the Cambodian people.

The mission of CSD is to encourage broad participation (at both national and local levels) in public affairs, develop a respect for human rights and the rule of law, enhance transparency and accountability in the public sphere, and raise awareness of issues of national concern through all forms of media. CSD has five main operational units to carry out this mission: (i) Legal, (ii) Governance, (iii) Public Forum, (iv) Elections & Parliamentary, and (v) Research & Publications.

CSD has been a national chapter-in-formation and now national contact of Transparency International since 1998, and rededicates itself with renewed energy and full participation of the Board of Directors to strengthen its structure and accountability in order to become a full-fledge TI member.

Launching Ceremony of Anti-Corruption Publications

Tuesday, 19 December 2006
8:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Himawari Hotel, Phnom Penh
Mistress of Ceremony: Ms. PEN Rany, CSD Court Watch Project Manager


8:30 a.m. Registration
9:00 National Anthem
9:05 Introductory Remarks by Theary C. SENG, Executive Director
9:10 Presentations of CSD Anti-Corruption Publications

  • National Integrity System Study of Cambodia 2006 by Dr. CHEK Sotha
  • Our Country, Our Future by IM Sophea
  • Anti-Corruption Picture Book by Dr. NEOU Sun
  • Documentation of Corruption Cases by CHOURN Sophea

10:00 Coffee Break
10:15 Q&A Discussions with Panelists and Other Participants

  • H.E. CHEAM Yeap’s representative, Dr. POU Sovann, CPP
  • H.E. SAM Rainsy: Member of Parliament, SRP
  • H.E. MONH Saphan: Member of Parliament, FUNCINPEC
  • Mr. SOK Hach: Exec. Dir., Economic Institute of Cambodia (most likely)
  • Mr. POK Leaksmy: Pact Cambodia
  • Mr. RONG Chhun: Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA)
  • Mr. YONG Kim Eng: President, People Center for Development & Peace (PDP)

11:15 Closing Remarks by Theary C. SENG
National Integrity System, funded by and a concept of Transparency International, is a country study of Cambodia (2006) of its key institutions, sectors or specific activities (or “pillars”) that contribute to the integrity, transparency and accountability. The purpose of this country study is to assess the National Integrity System (“NIS”) in theory (law and regulatory provisions) and in practice (how well it works) in Cambodia.

Our Country, Our Future (Clean Hand Campaign, Working Together to Fight Corruption) Handbook, is designed to educate public officials and individuals vested with an elective public office in Cambodia about what corruption is and how to fight it. Public officials include all individuals appointed to permanent or temporary positions in the legislative or executive branches, the military, and government, administrative or judicial offices. Individuals vested with an elective public office include any member of the Senate, National Assembly, commune councils and any citizen vested with a public office by election. The Handbook also contains information that will be useful to all members of the public. This Handbook text is accompanied by many photos and illustrations. The Handbook is funded by USAID, Danida, Pact and PADCO/AECOM.

Anti-Corruption Picture Book superbly illustrated by CSD cartoonist SEN Samondara presents lighted-hearted commonplace scenarios with humorous illustrations to address the serious and costly topic of corruption. Available only in Khmer but because of the humor and illustrations, understandable to a non-Khmer reader.

Documentation of Corruption Cases presents real charges or complaints that have been lodged against individuals or groups of individuals on issue of corruption for prosecution. The cases were gleaned by CSD Governance Unit’s Ms. CHOURN Sophea with the assistance of the CSD Court Watch Project staff.

For any press enquiries please contact

The Center for Social Development

Theary C. SENG, Executive Director
T: 012.222.552

IM Sophea, Executive Assistant
T: 016.888.552

Dr. CHEK Sotha, Study Coordinator
T: 016.226.287