Friday, 15.2.2008: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reacts to the Allegations of Amnesty International

Posted on 17 February 2008. Filed under: Week 547 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

“On 13 February 2008, the Khmer Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement [full text, 1 page, is here] rejecting the criticism by Ms. Brittis Edman, an Amnesty International official, who had claimed on 11 February that 150,000 Khmer poor people were illegally evicted from their houses by armed authorities, and that the land was granted to private companies [full text of the statement by Amnesty International – not a statement by the staff member Brittis Edman – 74 pages, with detailed references to cases, as well as to national and international law, can be downloaded here here]. This statement was made after this international organization’s staff had met and talked with poor people living in Dey Krahom, Rik Reay, and Group 78 communities in Sangkat Tonle Basak who are faced with forced eviction by armed forces of the government, in order to seize the land and hand it over to private firms.

“The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs response statement called Ms. Brittis Edman’s accusations totally groundless. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that there has been no illegal eviction as mentioned in the statement; most of the people who live in those communities agree with the companies and the authorities.

“Ms. Brittis Edman has previously said during meetings with people from the three communities in Sangkat Tonle Basak that the government’s armed forces forcefully evicted people for the benefit of private companies, and they contributed to and caused massive human rights violations, as those people do not get offered an appropriate solution from the companies that want to occupy the land.

“Ms. Brittis Edman added that these forced evictions are serious and illegal acts. On behalf of Amnesty International, she appealed to the Hun Sen government to stop to forcefully evict poor from these communities, as the government is obliged to protect legal settlement rights of the people.

“Ms. Brittis Edman’s statement was released after her visit to land grabbing victims in some provinces and municipalities in Cambodia. She stated that the victims in Dey Krahom are among the 150,000 poor people mentioned. She continued that people evicted from these areas should have a legal and suitable solution, and relocation sites should be first developed before evictions.

“Yesterday, on 14 February, Mr. Eng Chhay Eang, the secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party, a member of the National Assembly from Battambang, and the vice-president of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes, issued a statement condemning the authorities in Ratanak Mondol, Battambang, who ordered armed forces to pull down the houses of Mr. Sat Sarang and of Ms. Seng Im in Rasmei Sangha village, Sdau commune, on 13 February 2008.

“Mr. Eng Chhay Eang stated that the authorities in Ratanak Mondol ordered armed forces to pull down the house of Mr. Sat Sarang in order to develop a road, without having any agreement with the house owner or an appropriate compensation for him. This act is a violation of the Constitution and of the law on land management.

“Mr. Sat Sarang legally built his house on this land in 1996. In the event that the authorities need this land to develop a road, it is necessary to have a suitable and fair policy for the land owner, following Article 44 of the Constitution: ‘The right to confiscate possessions from any person shall be exercised only in the public interest as provided for under law and shall require fair and just compensation in advance.’

“Mr. Eng Chhay Eang added that any official or authority, who use their power in violation or without a warrant to confiscate property, shall be fined from Riel 10 to 25 million, and face disciplinary actions according to Article 261 of the land law.

Mr. Eng Chhay Eng also called on the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes to take action to prevent local authorities, who illegally order armed forces by their own will, from pulling down houses or from seizing land from legal owners. These owners are protected by the Constitution and the land law.

“Concerning the evictions of people in provinces and municipalities from their residences, Mr. Om Sam Ath, the Monitoring Technical Supervisor for human rights violations of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – said, ‘People have been evicted from their homes in some provinces and towns in Cambodia. During some of these evictions in the past, some people were arrested and jailed, and some were injured due to violence; some were even killed.’

“Mr. Om Sam Ath continued that the government should not have taken such quick reaction against Amnesty International’s criticism of forced evictions of poor people from their residences by armed forces in illegal acts. The government should clearly note that this organization’s criticism is really true, or that it is just a not complete statement. He continued that many people and civil society have joined to lobby the government to stop using violence in evicting people from their communities, but the government should try to find suitable solutions to develop those communities of people at the relocation sites. This kind of illegal evictions make people lose, while private companies will get great benefits.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #110, 15-16.2.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 15 February 2008

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2754, 15.2.2008

  • Woman Who Sells Cupcakes in Sihanoukville Takes Legal Action against Mr. Ngor Srun, Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers [and son-in-law of the president of the senate] on Accusation of Threatening [her and her husband] for Land Rights
  • Prime Minister Denies Allowing Foreigners to Have the Right to Own Land While Some People Are Concerned about the Crisis of Rising Land Prices
  • Sam Rainsy Gives Up Dozens of Faithful Officials and Gets Eng Chhay Ieng [considered controversial by some people as secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party]

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #44, 15.2.2008

  • Irish Government, a Donor of Global Witness, Pushes Hun Sen Government to Investigate Cambodia’s ‘Family Tree’ [Global Witness publication claiming deforestation and corruption]
  • Head of No Longer Appropriate Opposition Party Is Incompetent to Reconcile the Party; He Quietly Goes Abroad
  • Strongman Hun Sen Destroys Sam Rainsy Party by Using the Strategy which the Siamese [Thai] Thieves Used [in the year 1594], of Throwing Duong Silver Coins [as bait for the greedy] to Destroy a Lungvek Military Outpost

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1568, 15.2.2008

  • Khmer Rouge Tribunal Needs $170 Million for the Process to the End in 2011
  • Attempt by Thai Side to Take Preah Vihear Temple as Joint Property [actually, the Thai side does not claim it as property] Contradicts the Decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague
  • [Six-year-old] Boy Lied on and Hugged His [allegedly alcoholic] Mother’s Dead Body More Than Ten Hours Because He Was Not Aware that She Had Died [13 February – Battambang]
  • Drunken Bodyguard of a High Ranking Official, Waiting Impatiently for the Music of a Song He Had Requested to be played [in a restaurant] Fired a Gun Shot, Seriously Wounding a Woman [13 February – he escapes – Meanchey, Phnom Penh]
  • Widower Set Himself on Fire to Die, the Fire Also Burned His House, Leaving His Six Children [13 February – reason not known – Baray, Kompong Thom]
  • Kampot Province Residents Crowd to Get Water from a Dragon-Protected Buddha Statue [for drinking and treating diseases – Banteay Meas]
    Snow Storms Make China Lose $15 Billion

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #110, 15.2.2008

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reacts against Accusation by Amnesty International
  • Yim Sovann [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh] Pushes Asian Development Bank to Pressure the Government to Eliminate Corruption

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6272, 15.2.2008

  • Anyone Can Be Nationalistic; Samdech Hun Sen Clarifies a Rumor that the Government Is Making a Law to Sell Land to Foreigners
  • [Female] Signer Sok Pisey Is Requested to Pay $110,000 Compensation to [KH Promotions] Company [accusing her of breaking a contract – Phnom Penh]
  • Khmer Surin Teacher Comes [from Thailand] to Find Khmer Language Textbooks in Cambodia
  • Burmese Military Regime Accuses Opposition of Wanting to Divide the Country into Two Parts

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3388, 13.2.2008

  • Yim Sovann [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh]: If Sam Rainsy Party Wins Elections, It Will Cancel Casino Contracts

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4516, 15.2.2008

  • Sam Rainsy Asks People Not to Care about Senior Officials Who Leave [the Sam Rainsy Party]
  • Can USA Create a Permanent Military Base in Cambodia? [as a rumor says – US Ambassador Joseph A. Mussomeli said there is no plan to do so]
  • Prime Minister: There Is No Preparation of Legislation to Sell Land to Foreigners
  • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen during an inauguration of a school building in Kompong Speu]: ‘All Students Without Difference Shall Have the Guarantee that They Can Go to School by 2010’

Go to last week’s editorial

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