I just wanted to make some points about the legal system, and the World Bank workshop this morning that might not be too interesting, but I want to have down in text anyhow. First off...the things I learned on my first day. For those who are unaware, much of Cambodia's law has come from UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority for Cambodia). So they are just now going through a huge period of reform/creation. When I say I sat and read the civil and penal codes for the country I'm referring to drafts created by the Japanese and French respectively. The Japanese have created a criminal procedure code as well as civil procedure and civil code (haven't looked at these last two yet). They are incorporating the current system in Cambodia as well as making changes, but just trying to put something concrete down so that there is a system to actually follow. I read the entire criminal procedure yesterday and it was incredible. It includes everything on how the judiciary, prosecutors, judicial police, etc. are to operate. Pretty much the entire legal system. The French have produced the penal code setting out more specific definitions of crimes, etc. They very kindly have only given it out in Khmer and French, but Vanny has been working on a translation so I've read what he's done of that. I'll be looking at these in conjunction with the law on domestic violence as it does not provide for penal remedies, just civil in the form of a temporary protective order and some sort of administrative remedy that I'm not too sure about yet. It was extremly poorly drafted it seems (pre-Doris) and is very rudimentary. So hopefully it can be combined with the draft penal and civil codes to produce something that will work.
Underlying all of this, of course, is that the judiciary is corrupt. Today, at the World Bank workshop, the WB's country manager stated that only 18% of Cambodians believe judges to be trustworthy. And similarly only 29% believe police to be trustworthy. Makes putting together a legal system rather difficult. Regardless, the draft codes are currently in the National Assembly and Senate and are likely to be approved soon. I forgot my little flow chart on how something becomes law here, and it's interesting enough to deserve a thorough explanation, so I'll do that next time...but I can sum it up by saying separation of powers doesn't exist. Essentially once Hun Sen says go, everyone goes.
Speaking of, he did an interesting thing at the World Bank workshop today that deserves some explaining. Yesterday another thing I read was a recent report from the UN Special Representative Yash Ghai who is really at odds with Hun Sen. But one thing he was very concerned with is this granting of land concessions. Apparently about 70-80% of land is state-owned and the government as part of its economic plan has been granting land concessions to businesses it theoretically believes will improve the economy. But Yash Ghai reported that many of these concessions are going to family and friends of the powerful, while the poor who could benefit most from such land remain landless. Today Hun Sen announced that yesterday he rescinded five such land concessions to businesses and that land will be re-distributed. Very interesting, and I can't wait to find out what these "businesses" did. Would be really something if he truly rescinded the concessions because they were not efficiently using them.
More on the World Bank workshop: The basis of it was a concern with rising inequality as Cambodia sees rapid growth. Over the last three years the country has seen an average growth rate of 11.4%. But it was noted that between 1994 and 2004 the living standard for the richest 20% gad grown by 45% and that of the poorest 20% by only 8%. So World Bank was asked to do this study/report on this and discovered that most of that growth in inequality had occurred from 1993-1997, after which it leveled off. Sooo, disaster averted I suppose. So the workshop focused on decreasing the gap and development as a whole. Okay, I'm getting bit by mosquitos and apparently Dengue Fever is a real risk here, time to retreat for some repellent.