Excellent post over at The Mirror about the gulf between law and implementation of law. On public understanding of law, he writes:

“But there are obviously also cases where it is surely quite difficult for the public to understand the complexity of some legislation – and if it is not easy to understand the rules, there is a lower motivation to follow them – though this is normally wrong not to follow the law.”

He’s absolutely right that many people will throw up their hands in exasperation if laws are too complex to understand. While some technical laws might be difficult for the lay-person to fully grasp, in general I’ve found Cambodian laws to be fairly clear and straightforward. Foreign technical experts are often involved in drafting legislation, and as a result Cambodian laws often reflect general legal principles common to most other countries.

In my view, the greatest barrier to following the law is access – it’s simply too difficult to find legal documents. Astonishingly, there’s no comprehensive legal database or library anywhere in the country. There have been no fewer than seven foreign aid projects involved in compiling laws, but unfortunately nothing sustainable and up-to-date has come out of it. Yesterday, I met with a foreign expert working through a university here in Phnom Penh who is working to create just such an online database. I’m hopeful that in the near future we’ll have better access to laws, which should provide more motivation to follow them.