The rule of law is vital for supporting a democratic society. Citizens rely on the government to protect its people through laws and good governance. However, corruption undermines government’s abilities to be accountable for the good of its people. Corruption as defined by Transparency International is “the abuse of entrusted power for private gains”. When governments are corrupt, they defer the rule of law and create greater inequalities. Organized crimes, such as human trafficking, contribute to corruption by undermining law enforcement efforts, slowing economic growth, and raising the costs of regional trade (Dixon 98). These negative impacts effect the peoples trust in the government.
Cambodia according to Transparency International’s 2013 corruption perception index is ranked 160 out of 177 countries, with a score of 20 out of 100 (Corruption by Country). By this measure, Cambodia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The 2004 assessment of corruption in Cambodia by USAID and Casals and Associates, stated corruption “has become a part of everyday life in Cambodia” (Calavan, Diaz, O’Brien 2). To understand the current state of corruption within the nation, it is important to consider the countries recent history of successive political, economic, and social turmoil throughout the end of the twentieth century encouraged many qualified professional to leave the country (Ibid). Additionally, Cambodia’s history of military and political conflicts had isolated the country from advancing along with many of its neighbors. Furthermore, after the Paris Accords, the Cambodian government created a hybrid of “predatory market economics and authoritarian control” (Ibid). These factors, along with widespread extreme poverty, have established a successful environment to breed corruption.
Within Cambodia, the national wealth remains concentrated in less then one percent of the country’s population (Ibid). The country suffers from bribes, smuggling, and other illegal practices. Law enforcement official are known to collect bribes, along with forcing schools and public health providers to supply supplemental income for high-level government officials (Ibid). Additionally, years of civil war have made the judiciary system weak with a lack of rule of law. Cambodian citizens no longer trust in the government and law enforcement to protect the people. Instead, Cambodians are forced to navigate the system through, “survival” corruption. “Survival” corruption refers to the way of life of the poor and the progression of corrupt acts as a way for the wealthy to obtain political power (Ibid). Human trafficking has become a form of “survival” corruption in an environment where weak institutions and great socioeconomic inequalities allow human trafficking to thrive.
According to the 2013 Trafficking in Person Report from the Department of State, Cambodia’s corrupt officials are directly involved in helping to facilitate the transportation of human...