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.
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
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.
is a membership organization with 78 employees, approximately
50,000 members and sub-offices based in 17 provinces, one district
branch and Phnom Penh.
is composed of four sections to effectively address human rights
issues in Cambodia: Education Section, Monitoring
Section, and Lobby
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.