PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA —
Cambodians have experienced a major drop in levels of corruption over the past five years, according to a report released by Transparency International last week.
The Global Corruption Barometer, which was compiled from interviews with more than 1,000 Cambodians, showed overall decreases in the direct experiences of corruption in the judiciary since 2011, down from 72 percent to 59 percent in 2016.
Experience with police corruption had also dropped, from a high of 61 percent in 2011 to 52 percent last year, although this rose from 37 percent in 2013.
Government corruption was also reported as having dropped overall since 2011, down from 51 percent to 44 percent last year. The figure for 2013 was 30 percent.
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said at the launch of the report that official bribery was seen to have halved since 2011, which he described as a “huge shift”.
However, he noted that major corruption, such as abuse of power and nepotism, remained a concern, adding that political instability “could be a barrier to combating major corruption.”
“If politicians and high-profile figures are merely challenging each other with politics, major corruption will be neglected and it could be far off the agenda,” he said.
However, the figures in the report speak to a general decline in levels of corruption.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents reported paying bribes to officials for the production on identity documents in 2013, while less than a third did in 2016. Similarly, some 38 percent said they paid bribes to receive health care in 2013, whereas only 19 percent said so in 2016.
Police bribes, the report notes, dropped from 60 percent to 11 percent.
General Khieu Sopheak, interior ministry spokesman, said the report did not fully reflect improvements made in public bodies over recent years.
“We acknowledge there is corruption in Cambodia, but these high figures are unacceptable,” he said.
Transparency International recommended that the government step up efforts to fight corruption and increase public trust.
Chin Malin, a Justice Ministry spokesman, could not be reached.
Almost three-quarters of respondents said they thought ordinary Cambodians could shape the fight against corruption, while two-thirds said they were willing to report corruption.
Some 45 percent said they had in the past not reported corruption because they were afraid of the repercussions.
In January, Transparency International ranked Cambodia 156th out of 176 countries surveyed in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index.