PHNOM PENH — The people of Cambodia have been struggling to attain basic human rights for decades. The current regime is silencing protesters through violence and banning freedom of speech. The Cambodian People’s Party country currently runs the country, and in 2016, the party increased the level of persecution aimed at opposing views. This persecution was done to stifle the success the Cambodia National Rescue Party, the main opposition. This governmental corruption is a massive roadblock for human rights in Cambodia.
The corruption in Cambodia is globally recognized which has forced the Cambodian government to re-examine its practices. In 2010, Cambodia passed an anti-corruption law endorsed by the rest of Asia and the Pacific which was an important step towards fixing corruption in the country.
Furthermore, Cambodia runs as a democratic nation, ultimately giving voters control over who is in power. In the 2017 and 2018 elections, corruption was predicted to be one of the main points of concern for citizens voting that year. The people want to recover human rights in Cambodia, including freedom of speech and the right to a fair trial. If voters can see through the lack of transparency and distinguish who the corrupt government officials are, they have the opportunity to use their voice to make changes.
Cambodia is also a hub for sex trafficking and slave labor. These crimes are mostly a result of extreme poverty. Family members sell their children and young women to traffickers to feed the rest of the household. Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, serves as the center of many trafficking rings. With so many people enslaved, the need for improving human rights in Cambodia is clear.
In 2003, the U.N. created a protocol that defined human trafficking and set required steps for its elimination. As of 2015, the Cambodian government did not meet the standards established by the U.N. However, the government created a written plan of action that ensures the funding of significant time and resources to fight against human trafficking. The U.N. is hopeful that Cambodia will take these steps and be on track for a significant reduction in slavery in the coming years.
There are also many nonprofit organizations fighting to improve human rights in Cambodia. The Hard Places Community, planted in the center of the Phnom Penh sex trafficking district, works to free women and children from trafficking rings. They also provide victims recently freed with counseling and job training.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights carefully tracks violations of human rights in Cambodia and focuses on making a difference through democracy. They promote advocacy and pool their efforts into creating policies that will protect human rights for years to come. Though Cambodia has historically been a dark place for human rights, many people are hard at work to combat these issues and are confident that a new era is on the horizon.
– Julia McCartney