Access to Justice 

Problem & Context

The UN Special Rapporteur recognizes that on a number of occasions and especially in high-profile political cases, the judiciary seems to have allowed itself to be used or manipulated for political or purely private purposes. Ever increasing is the use of criminalization and pre-trial detention to silence the voices of victimized communities, their representatives and human rights defenders. Many of Cambodia's institutions have not been effective in upholding people's rights and the judiciary remains a weak institution. Further, issues such as corruption, lengthy delays before hearings, difficulties with the enforcement of judgments, and a shortage of adequate legal aid result in a situation where litigation is not an option for most poor Cambodians. With estimates placing a minimum 31% of the population below the poverty line[1], millions of Cambodians are denied their democratic right to seek justice. Additionally, courts only exist in Phnom Penh and the provincial towns while over 85% of the nation's poor live outside the capitals.[2]

The government recognizes the significance of other forms of dispute resolution. As a strategic objective for reform, the government has included the introduction of "alternative dispute resolution methods." In its program of action on reforming the judicial system, the Royal Government has stated that it is committed to investigating, building upon, and strengthening the traditional methods of alternative dispute resolution.



[1] CIA, World Factbook (2012), available at:

[2] Surya P. Subedi, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia (2010), available at: