U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1993 - Cambodia

  In 1993 Cambodia experienced a democratic and human rights revolution. Despite killings, threats, and intimidation by the Khmer Rouge, 90 percent of voters participated in the free and fair elections in May – the first in decades – thus providing the opportunity for long-term democratic evolution. Political violence and intimidation by forces of the Phnom Penh regime marred the election campaign. However, in the latter half of 1993, the situation dramatically improved and there were no substantiated cases of political killings. The Khmer Rouge (KR) (also known as the Party of Democratic Kampuchea – PDK) insurgency continues to pose an armed threat to the new Government. Moreover, Cambodia lacks the institutions and adequate numbers of trained personnel needed for a mature democracy. From April 1975 until January 1979 the PDK ruled Cambodia and compiled one of the worst records of human rights abuse in this century. Between one-seventh and one-eighth of the population died of exhaustion, disease, abuse, and execution. In 1979 the PDK were ejected from power by the invading Vietnamese army. Hanoi installed an authoritarian regime, made up largely of former PDK cadre, called the People's Republic of Kampuchea and later renamed the State of Cambodia SOC. Vietnamese arms maintained the SOC in power against remnants of the PDK and the non-Communist resistance under Prince Sihanouk. In September 1989, after 11 years of military occupation and stalemate, the Vietnamese withdrew the bulk of their forces. Under the October 1991 Paris Accords, the United Nations created the U.N. Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) and dispatched a 22,000-strong civilian and military peacekeeping force to conduct free and fair elections for a constituent assembly. During this interim period, a Cambodian Supreme National Council (SNC) embodied Cambodian sovereignty. Over 4 million Cambodians voted in the May 1993 elections, although the PDK barred some people in the 10 to 15 percent of the country (holding 6 percent of the population) it controls from participating. Prince Ranariddh's FUNCINPEC Party, the SOC's Cambodian People's Party (CPP), and Son Sann's Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP) were the top vote recipients, respectively. The parties represented in the 120-member Assembly formed a Provisional National Government of Cambodia (PNGC) on July 1. The Assembly proceeded to draft and approve a new Constitution which was promulgated September 24. It establishes a multiparty liberal democracy in the framework of a constitutional monarchy. FUNCINPEC and the CPP share power in the new Royal Cambodian Government. The Constitution provides for a wide range of internationally recognized human rights. In 1989 the State of Cambodia (SOC) began to institute reforms to change the small, predominantly agricultural economy from a centrally planned to a market-oriented system. Legislation in 1989 restored the right to own and inherit property, and agricultural production is now mostly private and family based. These reforms, together with growing foreign investment and international aid, spurred a surge of economic activity, especially in Phnom Penh. Nevertheless, Cambodia remains one of the world's poorest countries. Per capita gross domestic product is less than $200. In 1993 Cambodia made great strides in human rights. The fledgling independent media grew to include opposition radio and television stations as well as numerous Khmer and foreign-language publications. The membership of indigenous human rights groups swelled, and international organizations such as Amnesty International and Asia Watch were able to visit Cambodia. The remainder of the 370,000 Cambodian refugees who had been living mostly in camps along the Thai-Cambodian border were voluntarily repatriated under the direction of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In the latter half of 1993, for the first time in decades, there were no political prisoners being held in Cambodia, except possibly persons detained in Khmer Rouge areas. In 1991 and 1992 SOC authorities had released nearly 2,000 political prisoners. Without SOC agreement, implementation, and relinquishing of significant power in this and other areas, Cambodia's human rights progress in 1993, particularly the enormous increase in political openness, and ability to compete would not have occurred. Nevertheless, during the election campaign, SOC security forces engaged in extensive intimidation and political violence, mostly against the FUNCINPEC and BLDP parties. Between November 1992 and the May elections, UNTAC documented the politically motivated killings of 74 opposition party members. One hundred twenty-six opposition party members were injured during the same period due to political violence. Many of these acts were attributed to SOC police or soldiers. In some cases, the SOC authorities frustrated UNTAC's investigations of these incidents. The SOC did not take effective action against any of the perpetrators of this violence. The PDK prohibited the U.N. and international human rights monitors from entering its zones. Based on reports from PDK defectors, it is clear that the 6 percent of Cambodians living under PDK rule enjoy few basic human rights. Moreover, the PDK carried out a violent campaign to destabilize the SOC administration and to discourage Cambodians from voting. PDK violence included the detention of 43 U.N. personnel. Eighteen U.N. personnel died during the mission from hostile action. UNTAC attributed 11 of the killings to the PDK. Racial violence against ethnic Vietnamese remained an egregious human rights problem. Antipathy toward ethnic Vietnamese is common in Cambodian society and figured in the rhetoric of several political parties. In 1993 PDK armed forces carried out brutal massacres of ethnic Vietnamese civilians which claimed the lives of 70 people. In addition, government armed forces have been guilty of looting the civilian population during campaigns against the PDK armed forces.


Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Political violence swelled in the period leading up to the U.N.-sponsored May elections and then dropped off dramatically. Violence by SOC authorities directed against opposition political party members began almost immediately with the arrival of opposition parties in Phnom Penh in late 1991. In 1992 members of the FUNCINPEC and BLDP parties were the main targets of this violence, although the Action for Democracy and Development Party and the Liberal Democratic Party also complained of attacks. There was an upsurge of violence between November 1992 and January 1993, apparently coincident with the evident growing popularity and activity of opposition parties in the provinces. During this period UNTAC confirmed the death or injury of 96 FUNCINPEC and BLDP members in politically motivated attacks, many of which were attributed to the SOC. Political violence crested again beginning in March with the official onset of the political campaign. Between March and the conclusion of the elections at the end of May, UNTAC confirmed that 42 FUNCINPEC and BLDP members were killed and 72 injured in political violence. UNTAC was able to confirm the responsibility of SOC officials or police for 12 of the killings. Following the elections, there was a short burst of political violence associated with the abortive secession movement led by Prince Norodom Chakrapong. In Prey Veng and Kompong Cham provinces, crowds incited by the secession leaders looted UNTAC buildings and threatened some UNTAC workers. The FUNCINPEC party alleged that several of its members were killed in the violence, a claim that has not been confirmed. SOC authorities took no effective action to apprehend or punish any of the perpetrators of this violence. Throughout 1993 the PDK continued an aggressive campaign of attacks on SOC officials at the village and commune level in an effort to destabilize the SOC regime. The PDK policy took on greater momentum as the PDK sought to delegitimize the electoral process and terrorize Cambodians to dissuade them from voting. UNTAC confirmed 216 such killings and 342 injuries inflicted by the PDK during UNTAC's mission. (These figures include ethnic Vietnamese victims.) According to one unconfirmed report, the PDK were responsible for killing as many as 10 PDK military defectors. PDK violence also extended to UNTAC personnel. Eighteen UNTAC employees were killed and 67 injured, although responsibility for these actions could not always be determined.

b. Disappearance

Opposition political parties, especially FUNCINPEC and the BLDP, and the CPP claimed that numerous party activists and local officials disappeared during the course of the election campaign. UNTAC investigated as many of these allegations as possible. UNTAC concluded that, in approximately 12 months from mid-1992 to mid-1993, SOC elements were responsible for the abduction or disappearance of 17 opposition activists. UNTAC also concluded that the PDK abducted 188 Cambodians and ethnic Vietnamese during the same period. After the elections, abductions dropped off. In one case, SOC military officers abducted four FUNCINPEC activists from their homes the evening of January 31-February 1 in Sangke district, Battambang province. Based on eyewitness testimony, the four were believed to have been taken to a SOC military base by seven SOC officers. SOC officials refused to produce the seven and then obstructed UNTAC's attempts to locate them. In 1993 the PDK continued its policy of destabilizing the SOC administration by killing and abducting members of the SOC local and provincial administrations. Targets frequently included village heads or local police. Attacks on SOC villages often involved looting as well. Abductions attributed to the PDK also included kidnaping of villagers for ransom and abduction of ethnic Vietnamese who were later killed.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Conditions in Cambodian prisons prior to the arrival of UNTAC in late 1991 were deplorable, including shackling, solitary confinement, poor sanitation, inadequate food, and limited or no health care. Prisoners regularly died from neglect. In 1992 consistent intervention by UNTAC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) improved conditions substantially. UNTAC induced SOC authorities to halt the practice of shackling in mid-1992, but they began to practice it subsequently as punishment. With the departure of UNTAC in late 1993, conditions in Cambodian prisons deteriorated. The ICRC and an indigenous human rights organization, Licadho, took separate actions to improve water, food, and medical treatment. However, by year's end, there were again numerous cases of beri-beri, tuberculosis, and other illness resulting in some deaths. Torture was not common in Cambodian prisons in 1993. However, there were numerous reports of torture in Battambang Provincial Prison, including burnings and beatings of prisoners, prior to the elections. UNTAC investigations confirmed the allegations. UNTAC issued a warrant for the arrest of Ten Seng, the chief of prison guards. In September UNTAC handed Ten Seng over to Cambodian authorities and, in November, a Cambodian court convicted him of aggravated assault and sentenced him to 1 year in jail.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Prior to 1993 the criminal justice system in Cambodia was essentially dysfunctional. Warrants for arrest were never employed. Police and secret security forces attached to the then Ministry of National Security arrested people in an arbitrary fashion. Detainees were often held incommunicado. The formal charging of prisoners with crimes was the exception, not the rule. In September 1992, UNTAC issued a transitional criminal law that outlined basic procedures for arrest and prosecution. The Supreme National Council of Cambodia adopted the law and a slow process of translation and elaboration ensued. Unfortunately, during 1993 the Government never implemented the law, with the exception of the requirement for bail. Corrupt officials often kept the bail money for their own profit. UNTAC successfully instigated judicial review of numerous cases in which prisoners were held without adequate evidence or charges, resulting in the release of 370 prisoners. In 1993 in the non-Communist zones, military officers regularly detained individuals accused of crimes and meted out summary punishment on the spot. In June FUNCINPEC authorities completed the construction of a grossly inadequate prison in the FUNCINPEC-controlled zone. Under UNTAC direction, the Kampuchean Peoples National Liberation Armed Forces (KPNLAF) built a prison in Thmar Puok. The PDK is thought to maintain security locations at which prisoners are held. However, little is known about these facilities. On January 8, UNTAC issued orders to permit a UNTAC special prosecutor to initiate arrests in cases of gross human rights abuses. SOC authorities sometimes frustrated UNTAC's efforts to apprehend SOC officials accused of human rights violations. However, UNTAC successfully arrested four persons. Of the four arrested, one died of natural causes. The Ministry of Justice has accepted the other three for prosecution.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The 1993 Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia provides for due process and the independence of the judiciary, and it establishes the principle of presumed innocence. However, Cambodia lacks the trained professionals to implement these principles. The structure of the future judicial system is to be defined by subsequent law. In 1993, for most of Cambodia, the existing judicial system remained that outlined in the 1989 SOC Constitution, which provides for provincial courts with judges and assessors named by state officials. In practice, the judiciary was directly dependent on political authorities and was an instrument of the Government. This system applied to only about 10 percent of those arrested. For most trials, police files, sometimes including confessions coerced from prisoners, were accepted as prima facie evidence of guilt. There was no functioning judicial system in 1993 in the areas outside Communist control, where martial law was the rule. No legal system is known to exist in PDK zones. The Paris Accords mandated the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of war. In 1991 and early 1992, SOC authorities released nearly 2,000, half under ICRC supervision. In 1993 there were no political prisoners held by Cambodian authorities.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home or Correspondence

There were numerous cases of arbitrary forced entry into homes and offices and seizure of possessions including documents by SOC security officials in 1993, particularly in connection with the election campaign. Opposition party offices were often targets. While security forces carried out surveillance of some persons, there was evidence that the large security apparatus developed by the SOC with Vietnamese assistance over the past decade had begun to dissolve. The competing political parties used various means to increase party membership prior to the May elections. CPP party membership swelled to over 3 million, substantially more than the CPP vote tally at the polls. SOC civil servants, students, and soldiers were regularly coerced into joining the CPP and campaigning for it. However, after the election, this coercion ceased.

g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts

Despite the Paris Accords prohibition, cease-fire violations continued in 1993. Villagers and townspeople were frequently victims of indiscriminate shelling principally by SOC and PDK forces in scattered fighting in Kompong Thom, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, and Banteay Meanchey provinces. Forces of the PDK and also the SOC continued to lay unmarked minefields, adding to an already enormous problem. The PDK carried out several attacks in 1993 intended specifically to terrorize the general population. On May 5, for example, PDK soldiers attacked the train traveling from Battambang to Phnom Penh. Of the 500 people on the train, 20 were killed and 100 were wounded. The PDK soldiers and local villagers then looted the train. In another raid, PDK soldiers opened fire on a house in which people were watching a video film in Kompong Thom province, killing 20 and injuring 35 others. However, with the high level of banditry in Cambodia, it was not always possible to determine whether actions were those of an armed party to the conflict or simply local criminals.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

Before 1992 freedom of speech and press were severely restricted. However, the Paris Accords provided for this freedom for all persons in Cambodia. The SNC codified this right on January 15, 1992. The juridical underpinnings of this fundamental freedom were further defined in the 1993 Constitution. That document states "Cambodian citizens shall enjoy freedom of expression, press, publication and association." However, the Constitution limits free speech by requiring that speech not adversely affect public security and be carried out in accordance with law. The National Assembly has yet to implement legislation to clarify this problem. In practice, Cambodians enjoyed unprecedented flowering of free speech in 1993. The print media consisted of exactly one government controlled newspaper in 1991. In 1993 there were over 57 different newspapers, bulletins, and magazines produced by the political parties, indigenous human rights organizations, and independent publishers, including one French language and three English language newspapers. The import and sale of foreign publications is unrestricted. Cambodia has one government-run television station, one commercial television station operated by a Thai concern, a FUNCINPEC television station, and a French-language television station operated by the French Government. Until late September, UNTAC operated an extremely popular radio station which provided independent news and served as an outlet for all 20 political parties. Cambodians also had access to a FUNCINPEC radio station and PDK radio, both of which had limited broadcast ranges inside the country. Self-censorship remains a concern in Cambodia. With the withdrawal of UNTAC, independent Cambodian media became more guarded in their criticism of the Government. In October a government spokesman warned the media that criticism of the King is contrary to Khmer traditions. While there are no penalties now envisaged, the Constitution declares that the King is "inviolable," possibly laying the basis for future lese majeste laws. The King has disavowed the government criticism. There is no freedom of speech in areas under PDK control. According to PDK defectors, in some instances people in PDK areas were prohibited from listening to UNTAC or other radio stations. Given the bloody history of the PDK, Cambodians living under PDK control frequently are afraid to discuss political matters publicly.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Freedom of peaceful assembly was assured by the SNC as well as by the new Constitution. During the 1993 election campaign, there were thousands of campaign rallies mounted by the 20 registered political parties in all provinces of the country, despite the threat of Khmer Rouge activities in the cities. During the election, thousands of Cambodians participated in a peace march across the country. Nevertheless, there were signs of resistance to peaceful assembly, mostly by SOC authorities, during the course of the political campaign. There were numerous instances in which local SOC officials demanded the right to approve rallies themselves or stopped rallies that had not obtained advance approval by UNTAC. Nevertheless, as a sign of changing attitudes, in October 400 to 500 students marched in Phnom Penh to protest government education policies. This was the first such demonstration since students were fired upon by police during protests in December 1991. In October the march took place peacefully, with police clearing the path for the students. Top government officials publicly defended their right to peaceful assembly and, as a result, several other peaceful demonstrations took place in November and December.

c. Freedom of Religion

Buddhism is the state religion. The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and forbids discrimination based on religion. Buddhism, Christianity, and especially Islam were nearly wiped out under PDK rule from 1975 to 1979. Until 1989 Buddhism made only a slow return as the clergy were still regarded with some suspicion by the ruling CPP. However, in 1989 a Buddhist renaissance commenced with the assistance of the CPP's front organization. Islam has also regained a strong foothold among the Cham population, and mosques are being refurbished around the country. Christianity, ruled "legal" in April 1990, is practiced openly. In 1993 Christian churches began to open in some outlying Cambodian provinces.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Travel within government-controlled parts of Cambodia is unrestricted. The presence of mines and bandits makes travel in some areas perilous, however. The PDK severely restricted travel within its zones, refused UNTAC access to some PDK areas, detained UNTAC personnel who ventured in, and, on occasion, fired on UNTAC personnel overflying PDK zones in helicopters. There were reliable reports that, in some cases, movement by Cambodians in the PDK zones even to neighboring villages required permission from village heads. UNTAC thoroughly liberalized the SOC's visa and passport issuing procedures. Although corruption continues to be a problem in obtaining travel documents, travel outside Cambodia is not systematically restricted. Exile is expressly forbidden by the Constitution. In 1992 over 370,000 Cambodians resided in refugee camps in Thailand. As an integral component of the Paris Accords, all the refugees returned to Cambodia in security and dignity under the auspices of the UNHCR in time to participate in the May 1993 elections. Tens of thousands of ethnic Vietnamese fled Cambodia in early 1993 due to racial violence. Many returned overland after the elections. However, several thousand on boats were stopped by authorities on the Mekong River and were forbidden entry. Although the vast majority of these people were born in Cambodia, the Government insisted it would deal with the ethnic Vietnamese as an immigration issue. At year's end, the problem was still unresolved.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

In 1993, for the first time in decades, Cambodians had the right and the ability peacefully to change their government. The electoral process conducted by UNTAC culminated in the establishment of the new Royal Government of Cambodia in September. UNTAC and the Cambodians faced many obstacles. The SOC used political violence and intimidation to cow opposition political parties and to try to frighten the electorate into voting for the CPP. The PDK used propaganda, obstruction, terror, and military attacks to try to prevent the election. PDK soldiers frequently confiscated or destroyed Cambodians' voter cards and threatened voters that there would be consequences if they voted in the elections. These efforts largely failed. While UNTAC was unable to achieve "a neutral political environment," 20 parties competed, 96 percent of eligible voters registered, and, despite PDK threats and foul weather, between May 23 and 28, 90 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Numerous independent observers and the U.N. Security Council declared the elections free and fair. One clear indication of this was that an opposition party, FUNCINPEC, won 46 percent of the vote compared to only 38 percent for the CPP. On September 24, the Constitution, drafted and approved by the Assembly, was promulgated, establishing a Constitutional Monarchy with Norodom Sihanouk as King. The Constitution provides for a multiparty, liberal democratic system with separation of powers, an independent judiciary, and a monarch who reigns but does not rule. The document calls for new nationwide legislative elections every 5 years. The Government is now preparing plans to institute elections at the village and commune level. The new legitimate Government was formed through negotiation between the FUNCINPEC and CPP parties. This compromise, which grants the CPP half of the cabinet positions, was reached against the backdrop of an abortive June secession movement, led by CPP member Prince Norodom Chakrapong. Although the secession movement quickly collapsed, it constituted an illegitimate pressure on the process of forming a new government.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

Twenty-seven independent indigenous nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) carried out human rights activities in Cambodia in 1993. The four largest of these had combined membership of over 150,000. They engaged in diverse activities ranging from basic human rights monitoring to education to prison visits to public seminars on the new Constitution. By the end of 1993, the NGO's were able to bring complaints to a human rights committee of the National Assembly, and several issued periodic bulletins about their activities. The effectiveness of the nascent human rights NGO's was magnified by their ability to work with and receive support from UNTAC and the successor U.N. Human Rights Center Field Office in Phnom Penh. UNTAC had a staff of 40 human rights monitors until September, present in all 21 provinces. In addition, 3,400 UNTAC civilian police assisted in human rights investigations. The military component of UNTAC used a strategic investigation team equipped with helicopters to investigate the most egregious human rights violations. Amnesty International, Asia Watch, and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights also visited Cambodia in 1993. While human rights investigators moved freely in government-controlled areas, no human rights groups were permitted entry into PDK zones.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The new Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, language, religious belief, or political views. However, with no effective means of implementing these guarantees, the most vulnerable elements of Cambodian society are often victims of discrimination.


The new Constitution contains strong language providing for equal rights for women, equal pay for equal work, and equal status in marriage. In practice, women have equal property rights with men, have the same status in bringing divorce proceedings, and have equal access to education and some jobs. However, tradition still prohibited many women from reaching the highest positions in many areas. Independent women's associations flourished in 1993, and the leaders of two of the most prominent human rights NGO's are women. International aid workers confirm that violence against women, including rape as well as domestic violence, is common, although there are still no systematic studies to determine the extent of the problem. Authorities normally decline to become involved in such "private" disputes. Prostitution, prohibited by the new Constitution, is nevertheless common in Phnom Penh.


Children are a vulnerable group in Cambodia. They are often victims of landmines and there is evidence of nascent child prostitution among street children in Phnom Penh. The new Constitution explicitly protects children's rights. Ensuring the welfare of children is also a specific goal of the government's political program. However, the Government must rely on international aid to fund most social welfare programs targeted at children, and, therefore, resources devoted to the goal are modest.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Vietnamese and Chinese have long been the largest ethnic minorities in Cambodia. Ethnic Chinese are now well accepted. However, fear and animosity toward the Vietnamese, who are seen as a threat to the Khmer nation and culture, remain among Cambodians. In 1993 the PDK sought to exploit these feelings through a calculated campaign of racial violence directed against ethnic Vietnamese civilians. The PDK, whose legitimacy suffered in the May elections, sought to show that they were the true nationalists and to provoke opposition to the SOC, which was installed in 1979 by a Vietnamese invasion. Amnesty International has documented 15 racially motivated attacks in 1993 resulting in 70 deaths and 60 wounded. Innocent women, children, and elderly persons were beaten or shot to death. A typical incident occurred March 10 in the floating village of Chong Khneas on the Tonle Sap lake in Siem Reap province when 20 men entered the village at dusk on boats and opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles on villagers in their houseboats and in a video parlor for 15 to 30 minutes. Eighteen people were killed and 15 were injured. The Cambodian authorities did not react energetically to these attacks. SOC police just 300 meters from Chong Khneas village did not attempt to intervene. King Sihanouk publicly condemned the killings of ethnic Vietnamese. However, it was only on July 24, after four major attacks, that the provisional government publicly condemned the attacks. Only one person was arrested in connection with all these attacks – and then by UNTAC. (The accused subsequently died of natural causes.) Constituent Assembly members debated whether rights provided for in the new Constitution extended to ethnic Vietnamese. The Assembly decided to defer the matter for future legislation.

People with Disabilities

Cambodia has the highest percentage of handicapped persons in the world; one in 286 Cambodians is missing at least one limb. Programs administered by various NGO's have brought about dramatic improvements in the treatment and rehabilitation of amputees. Although the handicapped are often looked upon as a burden by poor families, rehabilitation programs have improved how they are perceived. Accessibility for the handicapped is not mandated either legislatively or otherwise.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

Eighty percent of Cambodians are subsistence rice farmers. A large proportion of the urban population are engaged in low-level commerce or are self-employed as craftspeople. A majority of salaried workers are employed by the State, although there is a growing service sector and a small industrial sector. The new Constitution provides for the organization of trade unions "as stipulated by law." Until future implementing legislation is passed, the relevant law is the Labor Law passed by the SOC in August 1992. The 1992 law reflected consultations with the International Labor Organization and international labor law experts and is similar to labor laws in market economy countries. It states that workers have the right to form unions of their own choosing without previous authorization. The law does not require that unions join a single trade union structure and contains no provisions regarding whether a union may participate in political activity. However, there is a wide gap between the provisions of the labor law and the reality of labor conditions in Cambodia today. No other unions currently exist apart from those in the formerly SOC-controlled Kampuchean Federation of Trade Unions, an organization which was inactive in 1993. A new organization of pedicab drivers and other transport workers holds the potential of developing into an independent union. The new Constitution guarantees the right to strike, "in accordance with law." Implementing legislation is still lacking. During 1993 some workers from state enterprises took action when their factories were sold and closed. They carried out informal strikes which were promptly settled with government intervention, usually via cash payments. The Labor Law permits unions to join federations but does not address whether they may be affiliated with international bodies. The Kampuchean Federation of Trade Unions is a member of the formerly Soviet-controlled World Federation of Trade Unions.

b. The Right To Organize and Bargain Collectively

Collective bargaining is protected under the labor law, although any agreement reached between workers and employers is subject to approval by the Government. However, collective bargaining does not currently exist in practice. Civil servant wages are set by the Government. Wage rates in other sectors are set largely by the market. The Labor Law prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers. A number of offices in the new Government have conducted elections for workers' representatives. They participate in all decisions. No export processing zones exist.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Labor Law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, but there is inadequate inspection to enforce it. The Labor Law contains penal sanctions for offenders. There are no reports that domestic or foreign workers are being forced to remain in situations amounting to coerced labor. Prisons in SOC-controlled areas were inspected by UNTAC and international human rights groups, and there were no reports of prison labor. There are widespread reports that the PDK compels people under its control to serve as porters for military and other supplies.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Labor Law states that the minimum age for employment is 16, except for persons under age 16 working in an enterprise in which all workers are members of a family and under the supervision of a father, mother, or guardian. Although penalties exist for violators of these provisions, the Government has not yet established an apparatus to enforce them. Out of economic necessity, persons under the age of 16 years engage in a variety of jobs. These include street trading, construction, and small-scale manufacturing.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Labor Law does not provide for a nationwide minimum wage. However, it does require that every laborer receive a minimum wage that assures a decent living standard. The wage can vary according to regions. Currently, market-determined wage rates at lower levels are not sufficient to provide a decent living for a worker and family. The Labor Law provides for a standard legal work week of 48 hours and a 24-hour rest period. The law requires overtime payment at a rate set by the Government. These standards are not enforced and workers commonly work more than 48 hours per week and 8 hours per day. The law states that the workplace should have health and safety standards necessary to ensure the workers' well-being. However, the Government has yet to set specific standards. Penalties are specified in the law, but there are no provisions to protect workers who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions. Conditions in factories and small-scale industries are generally poor. Ventilation and lighting are inadequate, sanitation facilities are poor, and noise levels are significantly above international standards.

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