The genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge still hangs heavily over Cambodia, 30 years after the ultra-Maoist group was ousted from power by invading Vietnamese forces. Economically, the country is riding a high, but the scars of the Maoists' four years of brutal rule linger through a culture of impunity. Few Cambodian families were untouched; as many as one-quarter of its then population of 8 million were killed or died of disease, starvation or forced labour. Despite a concerted international effort to seek justice for the victims, no one has yet been tried, convicted or sentenced for the regime's crimes. A court set up by Cambodia and the UN to hold the Khmer Rouge accountable began operating more than three years ago and has spent about US$50 million. Five senior leaders of the movement have been arrested on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. But obstruction by the Cambodian government, headed by former Khmer Rouge commander Hun Sen, means the legal process has ground to a halt. The extraordinary chambers, as the court is called, have been flawed in design and practice. UN reports have determined that Cambodia's judiciary lacks independence, competence and professionalism. Judges have a record of bending to government pressure and some are known to take kickbacks. The court admitted this week that the country's war-crimes prosecutor was blocking efforts by her international counterpart to seek the arrest of more perpetrators of the genocide - who, in some cases, live next door to their victims. There is good reason why authorities do not want the court to dig too deep: Hun Sen and other senior members of his administration who once served the Khmer Rouge are suspected of hiding dark secrets. Cambodia has experienced years of rapid development and the outlook continues to be bright despite the global economic downturn. But while the nation's face is changing fast, its tragic past is ever-present. Cambodians want and deserve justice. They cannot move confidently forward until this happens. It is in Cambodia's interests that obstruction of the court ends so that it can do its work.