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Riots on 29-01-03
HR. Situation Report 2003














































































The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association started its activities in December 1991. The association was founded by, a group of former political prisoners who had been detained in the late 1980s for peacefully advocating human rights and democracy. Its first office was in a Buddhist temple in Phnom Penh, supported by a small group of volunteers who believed in the importance of democracy and human rights. 

As local and international interest in human rights work grew, donors contributed to expand the operations of the organization. With this help, ADHOC developed programs to include more extensive support for victims of a broader range of abuses. In 1992, ADHOC was officially registered with the government and began its ongoing appeal to the government of Cambodia to uphold the human rights and democratic liberties of its people. 

Throughout the years, ADHOC has investigated thousands of human rights violations and trained tens of thousands of people in human rights. In the early years intimidation against staff members was widespread, largely coming from local authorities who were unaware of human rights and what human rights organizations were doing. In recent years this situation has improved considerably, which is a direct result of ADHOC’s training and advocacy programs.  

ADHOC has also been actively involved in building a civil society in Cambodia.  Together with other NGOs, the organization has promoted a further democratization of government and society. Two elections have taken place since ADHOC was founded, and more and more people are aware of the notion of democracy.  

Over the years, ADHOC’s programs, activities and staff have increased and at the moment the association has a central office in Phnom Penh and 18 provincial offices. These offices carry out the different programs in communes and villages around Cambodia. 



Cambodia's recent history has been colored by political and civil conflict. The wars of the Indochina region, followed by the Khmer Rouge regime, killed over twenty percent of Cambodia's population. Now, during this time of rebuilding, the people of Cambodia are working to redevelop land, educate their children, and become active members of this democratic society. They must have faith in the strength and accountability of the new government. This process is difficult, however, when Cambodian people's basic rights are violated by the government without hope of recourse.     

The Cambodian Constitution (1993) provides basic human rights and fundamental freedoms to every Cambodian citizen. Cambodia has ratified a large number of international human rights conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention against Torture, the Genocide Convention and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  

Nevertheless, human rights violations are widespread in Cambodia. Between September 1999 and August 2000, ADHOC investigated almost 700 cases of human rights violations. Most of these cases concern government employees who torture, injure, kill, rape, illegally detain or otherwise harm a human being. Government officials regularly confiscate or prevent access to a person's personal property, land, farming or fishing supplies. Furthermore, political killings occur during the course of elections in order to prevent individuals from bringing civil or criminal cases to trial. Political opponents are threatened and intimidated and in some remote provinces we still find instances of intimidation of human rights workers. 

In addition, children are sold into labor at young ages with no chance for education. Women who are victims of domestic violence do not get adequate help and representation in the legal system. Sex workers are treated by the police and the courts as though they have no basic rights. ADHOC investigates these cases and intervenes in order to bring the perpetrators to justice and to assist the victims and their relatives.


Unlike Cambodia's recent history, there are now relatively few cases of state-sponsored violence. However, violence committed by state organs for other than state reasons seems to be still accepted and condoned. Victims who file complaints of government brutality or illegal activity with the police or other authorities often do not get effective assistance. Moreover, impunity of perpetrators with government ties is an overwhelming hindrance in the pursuit of justice for victims of abuses.

There are several ways in which government impunity operates to prevent justice from being served. When a victim complains to the police, in some situations no investigations are made, no interviews conducted, and no evidence collected. The police force is underpaid and therefore susceptible to pay-offs in exchange for dropping investigations. Police and court officials will sometimes convince victims of criminal abuses that they should accept meager monetary compensations from their assailants and drop their complaints. The courts will allow perpetrators to be disciplined by their superior officers, thereby eliminating the victims' chances to tell their stories in court. Impunity in the justice system for acts of wrong-doing committed by government actors has become a rampant problem in Cambodia. 

ADHOC, as a non-governmental organization, is essential in providing legal assistance and counseling to victims of human rights abuses. ADHOC appeals on behalf of victims to the police, the courts, and the government to demonstrate its opposition to government impunity. As a way to help change the current situation, ADHOC works to educate members of civil society as to their rights, as well as to train police and other government workers in the laws that protect the rights of Cambodians. Also, as new laws are drafted and the shape of the future is drawn, ADHOC participates by lobbying on behalf of vulnerable groups, including women, ethnic minorities, and children. ADHOC also exposes the abuses of power to the general public through use of the media to help raise consciousness of the problems of human rights violations and impunity in Cambodia. 

ADHOC was the first NGO established to address the human rights situation in Cambodia and has since become a leader in the campaign to end governmental abuse of the rights of Cambodian civilians. Through cooperative work between the several human rights NGOs and the government, Cambodia will demonstrate its commitment to a safe and just society.


ADHOC is a membership organization with 78 employees, approximately 50,000 members and sub-offices based in 17 provinces, one district branch and Phnom Penh.  

The Four Sections 

ADHOC is composed of four sections to effectively address human rights issues in Cambodia:  Education Section, Monitoring Section, Women's Section, and Lobby and Advocacy.    

The activities of all four sections are carried out in the central office in Phnom Penh. The Education and Monitoring Sections are present in all 17 provinces and the branch district office. The activities of the Women's Section are implemented in 11 offices and the Lobby and Advocacy activities are managed by the heads of its section in the central office in Phnom Penh.

Decision Making 

ADHOC maintains a democratic system of decision making. Although the President, the Secretary General, and Heads of Sections are responsible for overseeing the activities of the organization, all staff members are integral to decision making. ADHOC staff come together to determine what services ADHOC will bring to the community. Reflections on the past and plans for the future are major components of these assemblies.

General Assembly 

In order to maintain clear goals and strategies for the many offices of the organization, every three years the entire nation-wide staff, including provincial activists, meet in a General Assembly to plan the future activities of ADHOC. The General Assembly is the highest policy making body of the organization. The General Assembly elects a President to oversee the general management of ADHOC. The Secretary-General is nominated by the presidential candidate and also elected by the General Assembly. He or she oversees more specific program administration.  

Annual Assembly 

Capacity building is an important function of the Annual Assembly. All staff of ADHOC, including the President, Secretary General, Heads of Sections, and Heads of the provincial offices, meet to discuss needed modifications to the activities of the organization. The implementation of the programs is reviewed, and gaps between the plan of action and the activities of the organization are addressed. Further training possibilities and the needs of the provincial staff are among topics members of the Annual Assembly discuss. 

Monthly Meetings 

At the end of each month a meeting is held at the central office. Staff from various provincial offices attend, and each month the attendees rotate among the provinces. Heads of Sections from the central office also regularly attend the workshop. The small group allows all participants a chance to share their experiences and discuss their work. The Monthly Meeting aims to enrich the understanding and cooperation between the sections and between the staff of the different provinces. The attendees discuss the national human rights situation as well as the problems particular to their communities or areas in Cambodia.   

Management Committee 

Every Friday, the President, Secretary General, and the Heads of Sections meet to discuss the daily operations of the organization. Pressing concerns involving the administration or the functions of the programs are addressed.