Limited Progress on Free Elections, Human Rights, and Mine Clearing

NSIAD-96-15BR: Published: Feb 29, 1996. Publicly Released: Feb 29, 1996.

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GAO provided information on Cambodia's: (1) prospects for holding free and fair national elections by 1998; (2) progress in meeting international human and political rights standards; and (3) progress in clearing the country of millions of land mines.

GAO found that: (1) Cambodia lacks the electoral framework and the human and financial resources needed to support the elections process, has done little to prepare for national elections, and has fallen behind its proposed timetable for holding elections by mid-1998; (2) opposition parties' lack of fair access to the media and the disparity in the relative strengths of the political parties also present obstacles to holding free and fair elections; (3) although conditions have improved since the end of its civil war, Cambodian military and police forces remain ineffective and corrupt, few Cambodians receive due process or fair trials, and official corruption is widespread and growing; (4) recent government actions suggest increasing intolerance for dissenting opinion; (5) the presence of millions of land mines imposes a heavy economic and social burden on Cambodia, since the mines deny access to vast tracts of farmland, forests, and other natural resources and also interfere with the resettlement and reintegration of refugees; and (6) while the U.S. government has provided some funds, training, equipment, and supplies for mine clearing, the Cambodian government's lack of leadership, planning, and funding for mine clearing are among the most important factors explaining the lack of progress in this area.

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