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Justice and Current Priorities

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The 2008 survey conducted among the adult Cambodian population suggested that, although the population viewed accountability as important and expressed a desire to see former Khmer Rouge tried and punished for past crimes, their priorities were basic socio-economic needs rather than justice. The 2010 survey shows that respondent priorities have not changed since 2008. At the time of the survey, respondents continued to prioritize the economy and jobs (98%), health services (35%), and basic needs such as food (9%). Slightly more respondents listed land issues as a priority (an increase from 9% in 2008 to 13% in 2010) as well as improvements in infrastructure such as electricity, roads and schools. Similar to the 2008 data, respondents proposed that the government’s priorities should be the economy (79%), infrastructure (50%), and health services (18%), with very few mentioning justice (4%).

Figure 1: Priorities

Figure 1 - Priorities

Justice is, therefore, not a priority, and an increasing percentage of respondents (83% in 2010 compared to 76% in 2008) said it was more important for the government to address problems in Cambodians’ daily lives rather than crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime. Similarly, 63% of the respondents in the 2010 survey (compared to 53% in the 2008) would rather spend money on something other than the ECCC. Compared to those who lived under the Khmer Rouge regime, those who did not experience that regime said more frequently that spending should be used to tackle current problems rather than addressing the crimes committed during that period. The gap between the two generations has not changed since 2008.

Despite the low priority given to justice and questions about the resources allocated to the trials, accountability for those who committed atrocities during the Khmer Rouge regime is strongly supported by respondents (94% said it was important, compared to 90% in 2008). Although they see accountability as important, the results suggest that it is not part of their overall priority and that resources are needed to address their basic needs first.

Figure 2: Justice and Priorities

Which is more important: To focus on problems Cambodians face today or address crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge period?

Figure 2 - Justice and Priorities

If you could choose, would you spend money on the ECCC or would you spend it on something else?

Figure 2 - Justice and Priorities