Update on the Rule of Law for Human Rights in ASEAN: The Path to Integration (2016) - includes a detailed Chapter on Cambodia.
This Research Guide is maintained by Robin Gardner, MLS Academic Research Service, Melbourne Law School. Please contact Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org with corrections, suggestions or comments about the Guide.
The Cambodian legal system is based largely on the French civil system, and is statute based. The Constitution is the Supreme Law. The legal system has evolved from unwritten customary law, prevalent during Angkorian times, to statutory law, under the French colonisation from 1863 to 1953 and up until 1975. Under the Khmer Rouge, from 1975 to 1979, the entire Cambodian legal system was destroyed. After the invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam in 1979, the Cambodian legal framework was influenced by the Vietnamese system - in particular, contract law. During the presence of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) from 1991 to 1993, a number of laws were enacted - including criminal law, judicial law, and press law. As a result of foreign legal assistance to legal and judicial reform in the country, the Cambodian system also absorbed some common law features. The current legal system is thus a hybrid system of all these influences.
Sources of Cambodian law
The Cambodian legal system is a statutory law system, which means it is mostly based on written law passed by the legislature. Sources of law in Cambodia can be classified into primary sources and secondary sources.
For a comprehensive explanation of the Cambodian legal system, see the open access bookKonrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 2012) The book includes an excellent overview of the legal system, and chapters on constitutional law, international law, civil and criminal procedure, labour, land, environmental, criminal and education law, women and the law, and the rights of indigenous people.
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The Kingdom of Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy, guided by principles of liberal democracy and pluralism (Article 51 of the Constitution). The country became a French protectorate in 1863 and a French colony in 1884. Cambodia gained independence from France in 1953. It then went through several relatively short regimes, from constitutional monarchy (1953-1970) to republic (1970- 1975) to communism / dictatorship (1975-1979) to communism / socialism (1979-1991) before a constitutional monarchy was restored in 1993.
The following resources include general country information - history, demographics, economy, politics and government etc.