Cambodia Ranked Second-to-Last for Rule Of Law 

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Photo by TANG CHHIN Sothy_AFP.jpg

PHNOM PENH – The World Justice Project has ranked Cambodia 141st out of 142 countries in its rule of law index.

It’s the seventh year that Cambodia has received the second-bottom place — ahead of Venezuela — in global rank and the last one for the regional rank since 2016.  

The World Justice Project is an international organization backed by prominent world figures and multinational companies with the aim of advancing the rule of law worldwide.

Its 2023 index shows the rule of law, strengths, weaknesses, progress, and setbacks across countries and jurisdictions. 

Based on the eight factors with 44 indicators, Cambodia scored 0.26 in constraints on government powers, 0.23 in absence of corruption, 0.24 in open government, 0.33 in fundamental rights, 0.66 in order and security, 0.26 in regulatory enforcement, 0.25 in civil justice, and 0.26 in criminal justice.  


Resource: The World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2023 Report

Last year, Cambodia ranked 139 out of 140 countries, also with a 0.31 overall score, and was placed 138th among 139 countries, with a 0.32 score in 2021. Each time, it was ahead of Venezuela whose score has been 0.29 or less. 

Ministry of Justice spokesperson Chin Malin denied the report validity, saying that “there is no difference between the methodology from year to year — uncertain, unscientific and non-transparent.” 

The report was questionable and untrustworthy, he said. 

"The data is not scientific at all — no involvement from all actors. They may have just interviewed people in non-governmental organizations, of which some of them have a political bias. However, there is no response of the government side," Malin said. 

"It's doubtful that some countries, Myanmar for example, are facing sanctions for severe violations on human rights and some are in wars but scored more than Cambodia did. That's why their methodology is questionable to me," he added. 

Am Sam Ath, deputy director at the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), said the evaluation “reflected the practice because the scores resulted from each indicator of the situation and improvements in the country”. 

“Previously, there have been human rights violations and the practice has declined. It is because human rights in the country are not fully practiced yet," he said. 

Pech Pisey, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said Cambodia's low score was not surprising. Some of the indicators reflected the country’s situation, whether the government recognized or denied the report, Pisey said. 

The decline can affect many sectors, particularly the economy, investment, human rights, and social justice, while the score would affect the country's political sectors and partnerships, particularly with other democratic countries, Pisey added.  

Pisey suggested the government should study the low-scoring factors to respond to the key recommendations and increase the scores where necessary. 

For improvement, Sam Ath called on the new government to reform the justice system to fulfill the duties to respect, protect, and fill gaps in the system. 

Sam Ath said civil society groups have always called on the government to reform the justice system to be independent to ensure justice and fairness in the courts, based on the Constitution and international laws. 

Related Articles