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Cambodia courts inadequate to give justice to poor

Cambodia has for years been rebuilding its institutions after decades of conflict and turmoil, including the Khmer Rouge "Killing Fields" rule, but its judiciary remains weak and prone to interference, critics say. Surya Subedi, United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, said he was troubled by disputes over land and, in a reference to the government's tough stand on dissent, what he described as a narrowing of political space for debate.

"I call on the Royal Government of Cambodia to introduce appropriate measures to enhance the independence and capacity of the judiciary to enable it to function as an institution capable of providing justice to all," Subedi told a news conference at the end of a 10-day fact-finding visit.

In a drive to attract foreign investment, Cambodia has awarded big concessions to companies, most from China, Vietnam and South Korea, to run mines, power plants, farms and plantations for sugar, rice and rubber. But non-governmental groups and opposition politicians have accused the government of evicting villagers from their land without negotiation or adequate compensation to make way for some concessions.

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