Lethal Violence, Crime and State Formation in Cambodia

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Lethal Violence, Crime and State Formation in Cambodia
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology Volume 35 [1] 2002:1-26

Roderic Broadhurst1

This paper estimates homicide rates and describes the nature of violence and crime for Cambodia. Limited data allows only a partial picture of the trends and nature of lethal violence. Post-war economic adversity combined with a weak state and underdeveloped “legal culture” contributed to an elevated rate of homicide. Frequent acts of murder-robbery, mayhem, political violence and banditry present a major threat to social and economic development. A murder incident rate of approximately 5.7 per 100,000 but a homicide rate of 9.3 per 100,000 was estimated for 1996, higher than most countries in the region except the Philippines. Political and economic adversity drove the homicide rate to 11.6 per 100,000 in 1998 similar to levels reached during 1993 the year of the first national elections. Usually homicides were between males and commonly arose from robbery, disputes and quarrels with most deaths resulting from gunfire. Extra-judicial death arising from police or “mob” actions accounted for high rates of suspect death and contributed significantly to the homicide rate. Rates of violent crime were higher in rural areas but Phnom Penh experienced high levels of property crime compared to the provinces. The homicide rate is compared with neighbouring countries and the role of modernisation, policing and crime discussed.

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