Legal aid support
The legal aid situation in Cambodia is in critical need of improvement. Legal aid is currently mainly provided by NGOs funded by international donors. The Legal Aid Department (LAD) of the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) also works to provide legal aid to the poor. Despite the significant increase in the past few years, the budget that the Government provides to the BAKC for this purpose is insufficient to meet the needs of the poor. The small and decreasing number of legal aid lawyers is also one major challenge, with a shortage of lawyers in several provinces of Cambodia.

The Technical Working Group on Legal and Judicial Reform, co-chaired by the Ministry of Justice and OHCHR Cambodia, included the development of a legal aid policy and advocacy for an increased legal aid budget in its Joint Monitoring Indicators adopted in 2017. In 2018, the Ministry of Justice embarked in a consultative process to draft a legal aid policy.
National Conference On "Legal Aid" Co-Organized by Ministry of Justice and The Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia with Support from UNICEF and UN-OHCHR Cambodia

At the global level, on 20 December 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted the UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems to emphasize the primary duty and responsibility of the State to provide legal aid and to allocate the necessary human and financial resources to the legal aid system. Particularly, it contains useful and practical guidance to States in establishing effective and sustainable national legal aid systems. For the text of UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, click here in, English | Khmer.

The UN human rights mechanisms have also recently focused their attention on legal aid. A former Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers devoted one of her last thematic reports to the Human Rights Council to the issue of legal aid. Download the full text of the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. For the relevant extracts of the report in Khmer click here.

When examining the situation of Cambodia, several treaty bodies have recommended that Cambodia establish a national legal aid system in line with the UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid. See for instance CEDAW concluding observations on the 4th and 5th periodic report of Cambodia.