Archive for March, 2008

Week 553 – 2008-03-30: The Iron Fist Again – to Administer Justice

Posted on 31 March 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 553 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 553

Looking back over the week – as mirrored in our publications – while reviewing them, leads to some observations: not just what happened – but what was special about it? And the latter question often includes a consideration: is this also related to events in other countries? Or could there fall some light when looking at what happens in Cambodia when relating it to events in other countries?

On Monday, we carried the challenge of the Prime Minister to other parties, calling on them to recognize their own weaknesses, and to consider to what extent the tensions and difficulties in their parties are self-inflicted. It is interesting to read since several weeks some calls for the cooperation between different smaller parties, from within some parties, and from outside of the parties – so far these have always been rejected.

We have not seen a broad discussion in the Khmer press about the changes taking place in Pakistan, where the elections of 21 February 2008 led to some deep changes, as the president’s Pakistan Muslim League (Q), now with 51 seats, lost the majority in parliament to a coalition of two parties: the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (with 120 seats) and the Pakistan Muslim League (N) under their leader Nawaz Sharif (90 seats). In addition, there are 7 more small parties whose 52 representatives do not have an active role in deciding the major developments in parliament, and 19 independent candidates – an expression both of the multi-party system and the splitting up of many different forces which do not want to enter into cooperation with others. In this country of more than 160 million people, there are almost 100 parties, whose leaders work separately and therefore have not much chance to achieve any political power.

It took only two and a half weeks after the elections to negotiate a coalition, and two more weeks later, the new government started to work. The speed of these negotiations was considered with surprise, as the two parties entered into this cooperation after many years of bitter mutual enmity.

It was also noted, during the past weeks, that several movements of the Cambodian government – the appeal to save electricity, the raising of the teachers’ salaries by 10%, efforts to lower the market price of rice by releasing huge stockpiles, and even the dramatic intervention against land grabbing – were denounced by some as political maneuvers by the government. This again is something where only the future will show whether the public will share this negative evaluation, or whether the results for the actual beneficiaries and its consequences will be seen as important.

The time toward the elections will surely be a time with many important considerations how to approach the future.

The most dramatical event was probably the resignation the secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party as deputy chairperson of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes, submitted by his letter of 24 March 2008, to Senior Minister Sok An, the chairperson of this National Authority, and related actions by the Prime Minister.

In his letter of resignation, he wrote, “Currently land disputes are spreading almost everywhere across Cambodia. Land disputes are caused mostly by the powerful and the rich who use various means to confiscate land from the poor, from the weak, and from the innocent… Moreover, a number of municipal and provincial authorities used armed forces to suppress and to evict people from their residences unjustly, and they used violence against the people. This resulted also in some citizens being injured, and some were even killed.” He stated that the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes “does not have the capacity and the willingness to solve land disputes for the citizens,” so he resigned. The listing up of these problems, and the fact that they do not seem to move towards timely and just solutions, seems to be very similar to the problems raised in some sections of the report by Prof. Yash Ghai, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia to the recent session of the UN Human Rights Council, where he had described “land grabbings, forced evictions, and the detention of protesters.”

On the same day of 24 March, the Prime Minister flew to Sihanoukville to personally intervene in a land dispute between 125 families and the Thai Boon Roong Company. That the Prime Minister is quoted to have apologized to the victims for the violent action committed by this company is extraordinary. One may remember that the head of this company had, some years ago, personally shot at the tires of an airplane after landing in Phnom Penh, because he was unhappy that his luggage had been mishandled. At that time, none of the legal actions were taken against him, which would have been normal in most other countries in such a case of using a handgun, compromising the security of an aircraft. Now the Prime Minister is reported not only to have apologized for the violence suffered by the villagers, characterizing the illegal ruthlessness of the powers involved – “It’s like tying people’s hands and allowing a company to do what they want” – and ordering the local authorities “that property titles must be issued to those people within a week, even if the authorities have to work day and night,” and he is quoted to have “warned Mr. Sok An, the chairperson, and Mr. Svay Sitha, the secretary-general of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes, that this Authority will be dissolved, because it is “delaying dispute solutions, causing disputes to happen, using disputes for personal gain, and not working.”

It has not been reported in the past that such or similar positions have been expressed by the Prime Minister – for example, when time and again delegations of villagers came to Phnom Penh, waiting with posters with the photographs of the face of the Prime Minister and of his wife, pleading for help when their land was claimed by some powerful institutions or persons.

The public will observe if the intervention in Sihanoukville was only an isolated act, or if it ushered in a new, systematic attempt, calling the law enforcement authorities and the courts to handle violent conflicts between week and strong parties differently from the past, seriously, and timely, according to the law – “sounding a bell for other provincial governors on how to handle land disputes,” as the one-week deadline given the Banteay Meanchey authorities to solve a land disputes there for 335 families seems to indicate.

There are many conflicts about which the press had reported in the past that they had started, or about efforts to inform the Prime Minister about allegations of massive corruption – like in the discussions about Telecom Cambodia – where the public later never became aware how such problems were clarified – either by absolving the person alleged to have misused public funds for personal gain, or by helping that justice is taking its course.

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Saturday, 29.3.2008: Municipality Thanks JICA for Improving Traffic in Phnom Penh

Posted on 29 March 2008. Filed under: Week 553 | Tags: , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 553

“Phnom Penh: In the afternoon of 27 March 2008, the Phnom Penh Municipality held a signing ceremony on the Study on Traffic Improvement in Phnom Penh between Phnom Penh City, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency [JICA]. The ceremony was held at the occasion of extending the project for one more year, starting from March 2009 until March 2010. According to the original plan, JICA was going to complete this project by March 2009. The project has been implemented by the Phnom Penh Municipality, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and JICA since March 2007.

“The signing ceremony was attended by Secretary of State Chom Iek, representing the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, by the Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuk Tema, who is also a direct advisor to Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, and by Katsuta Hozumi, the leader of the study team of JICA in Tokyo, Japan, which is paying a visit to Phnom Penh, representing JICA. The director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Department of Public Works and Transport, governors and vice-governors from all of the seven districts, and other related institutions also participated in the meeting.

“An expert official from the the Phnom Penh municipality explained that the Study on Traffic Improvement in Phnom Penh, which has been and will be assisted by JICA, involves three important elements, such as providing education to drivers of the Phnom Penh Municipal Department of Public Works and Transport, engineering work to improve intersection roads such as roads with four traffic lights at Preah Kossomak Hospital and at the Stung Meanchey Bridge, and methods to enforce traffic laws for traffic police in Phnom Penh.

“At this occasion, Mr. Kep Chuk Tema thanked JICA for having helped to conduct the Study on Traffic Improvement in Phnom Penh and at the same time for having decided to extend it for another year, helping to improve the Phnom Penh traffic system. This is very good news for the residents of Phnom Penh.

“The city governor added, ‘Currently the traffic in Phnom Penh is getting busier and busier, because there has been a substantial increase in the number of people and the number of vehicles. Therefore, the Phnom Penh traffic system needs to be upgraded.’

“He continued that ‘after JICA has helped to improve the Phnom Penh traffic system, there are much less traffic congestions in Phnom Penh, and the city of Phnom Penh was successful in implementing this.’

“Mr. Katsuta Hozumi stressed that under the cooperation between the Phnom Penh Municipality and JICA during the last year, these efforts have led to improvements in the situation of the traffic in Phnom Penh.

“Mr. Chom Iek, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, stated that ‘the ministry and the municipality are building a bridge near the Monivong Bridge, along National Road No. 2, and we are also reconstructing the Stung Meanchey Bridge near the Preah Kossomak traffic light, in order to minimize traffic congestions in Phnom Penh.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4553, 29.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 29 March 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1605, 29.3.2008

  • The Whole International Airport Phnom Penh Was Stunned by a Rumor that a Criminal Had Hijacked a Plane [28 March]
  • Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen Visits Laos
  • [Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesperson] Mut Chantha: Sam Rainsy Party Is Not in Good Health as It Was Before
  • World Wildlife Fund Officials Affirm Existence of Wildlife in Mondolkiri Forest Conservation Area
  • USA Helps with Conservation of Elephants in Cambodia
  • Dry Season Lightning Killed Man and His Wife, Leaving Their Children to Live Miserably [27 March – Kandieng, Pursat]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6309, 29-30.3.2008

  • For 500 Years, Cambodia Has Had Full Peace [says Minister Sok An]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4553, 29.3.2008

  • Municipality Thanks JICA for Improving Traffic in Phnom Penh
  • 14 Cambodian Officials Left [to USA on 27 March] to Participate in Trial of Chhun Yasith [allegedly head of Cambodian Freedom Fighters]

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Friday, 28.3.2008: Oil and Gas Revenues Must Have Special Accounts

Posted on 29 March 2008. Filed under: Week 553 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 553

“According to an announcement by the United Nations Development Program [UNDP] of 26 March 2008, Cambodia presented a detailed plan for the management of oil and gas resources to ensure sustainable economic development and poverty reduction. Mr. Sok An, a deputy prime minister and the chairperson of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, said that the government had set its vision to obtain long-term rather than short-term benefits from oil and gas resources. He added that the plan, which includes the establishment of legal frameworks and human resource developments, is a crucial step in working toward sustainable economic development.

“A conference on Fueling Poverty Reduction with Oil and Gas Revenues was conducted in order to exchange information and experiences with various countries. This was the first such event taking place in Cambodia. The conference had approximately 500 participants from inside the country and from across the globe. Representatives from other countries who are successful in tapping natural resources to serve their societies urged Cambodia to pay close attention to the issue of oil and gas resources.

“Mr. Arne Walther, a former secretary-general of the International Energy Forum, explained the methods that Norway had used, to become a model for the careful utilization of natural resources, when the country had discovered substantial natural resources under the sea in the 1970s. He said, ‘There was the political will to carefully take a step forward, without letting the substantial revenue from petroleum affect or obstruct the traditional model of the Norwegian society.’

“Ms. Genoveva José da Costa, an Advisor to the São Tomé and Principe Minister of Natural Resources, said that transparent laws and regulations are crucial for all these processes. She added that her country established special accounts for all revenues from natural resources. She explained, ‘Doing so establishes a single target for all the income from petroleum, and it makes it easy to monitor the flow of expenses and to guarantee that they are used safely.’ Experts also discussed legal frameworks, preparation of fiscal taxes, contract negotiations, and reliable methods to study how to handle the basic resources.

“Mr. Jo Scheuer, the Cambodian country director of the UNDP, said, ‘The conference was an open forum to encourage media coverage and to provide for a creative open discussion. We hope that the conference will pave the way for all participants’ further discussion in coming years.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6308, 28.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 28 March 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #74, 28.3.2008

  • Electricité du Cambodge Is Incompetent to Provide Sufficient Electricity to Phnom Penh [but compare growing energy production achieved]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1604, 28.3.2008

  • State Sells 100 Tonnes of Rice per Day, Making Rice Price Decline

Khmer Amatak, Vol.9, #567, 28.3.2008

  • Hun Sen Increases Salaries by 10% for Teachers; Prices of Goods Increase by 100%

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #125, 28-29.3.2008

  • Increasing Prices of Rice and Goods May Kill Hun Sen’s Political Ambition Like the Lon Nol Regime Experienced It Before Its Collapse
  • Oil Business Would Make Corrupt People Well Off in 2011
  • Factory Owners Agree to Increase Salaries by US$5 for Workers at [president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia] Chea Mony’s Request

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6308, 28.3.2008

  • Oil and Gas Revenues Must Have Special Accounts

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3424, 28.3.2008

  • [US Ambassador] Joseph A. Mussomeli: If Threat and Intimidation against Opposition Activists Continue It Will Affect the Elections
  • [Minister of Environment] Mok Mareth Boasts that 59% of Khmer Trees Remain; Non-Government Organization Officials Say that Only 20% of Trees Remain

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4552, 28.3.2008

  • Minister of Commerce Says there Is No Shortage of Rice
  • In the Meantime the Government Bans Rice Exports, and It Allows Pig Imports
  • Samdech Dekchor [Prime Minister Hun Sen]: ‘Cambodian People’s Party Is Center of National Solidarity’
  • Japan Provides Loan of ¥3.651 Million [approx. US$36.5 million] for Development of Special Economic Zone [in Sihanoukville]
  • National Assembly Starts to Discuss and to Adopt Draft Law on Administrative Management of Municipality, Provinces, Towns, and Districts
  • Mobile Customs Officers Seize 30,000 l of Smuggled Fuel in Kompong Cham

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Thursday, 27.3.2008: Eng Chhay Eang Resigns from the Position of Deputy Chairperson of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes

Posted on 28 March 2008. Filed under: Week 553 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 553

“Mr. Eng Chhay Eang, the secretary-general of the opposition party, resigned from the position of deputy chairperson of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes. The official resignation came one day before Prime Minister Hun Sen criticized the chairperson and the secretary-general of this Authority for being inactive and not working well, and he said that this Authority should be dissolved.

“On 24 March 2008, Mr. Eng Chhay Eang had written to Mr. Sok An, the chairperson of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes, a deputy prime minister, and the minister in charge of the office of the Council of Ministers, stating, ‘Currently land disputes are spreading almost everywhere across Cambodia. Land disputes are caused mostly by the powerful and the rich who use various means to confiscate land from the poor, from the weak, and from the innocent. The authorities do not have the capacity and clear mechanisms to solve land disputes for the citizens. Moreover, a number of municipal and provincial authorities used armed forces to suppress and to evict people from their residences unjustly, and they used violence against the people. This resulted also in some citizens being injured, and some were even killed. Some people were arrested and imprisoned, while others fled from their hometowns, fearing that the authorities would arrest them.’

“The letter continued, ‘Having seen that the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes, which had been set up two years ago, does not fulfill its duties appropriately and does not have the capacity and the willingness to solve land disputes for the citizens, I would like to resign from the position of deputy chairperson of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes from the date of signing this letter.’

“Delivering a speech at an annual conference of the Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization and Construction in the evening of Tuesday in the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, Mr. Hun Sen warned Mr. Sok An and Mr. Svay Sitha, the secretary-general of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes, that this Authority should be dissolved, because it is too inactive. The head of the government blamed Mr. Svay Sitha, who has a bad reputation for an extramarital love affair with Miss Tat Marina, a TV program presenter, for delaying dispute solutions, causing disputes to happen, using disputes for personal gain, and not working.

“Mr. Svay Sitha was not present at the occasion where Mr. Hun Sen blamed him with strong words. The National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes was formed in early 2006 and has a membership from all political parties which have seats in the National Assembly. The Sam Rainsy Party has two representatives – Mr. Eng Chhay Eang and Mr. Chhit Sarith, who has now defected to Cambodian People’s Party. Land disputes have doubled. There have been thousands of cases concerning the powerful and the rich, as they grab land from the people.

“Mr. Lu Lay Sreng, the first vice-president of Funcinpec, told Khmer Machas Srok by phone, ‘As for the speech of Prime Minister Hun Sen, it depends on his understanding… He can do whatever he thinks is right. I don’t know much about this issue… If this authority was created… and if there is no transparency, why was it set up?’

“Regarding the blame that Prime Minister Hun Sen put on Mr. Svay Sitha, Lu Lay Sreng said, ‘They are his subordinates and confidants.’” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #124, 27.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 27 March 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #73, 27.3.2008

  • [Vice-president of Human Rights Party] Keo Remy: Sok An Controls Too Many Different Authorities [high level government corporations not under any ministry]; therefore He Is Incompetent to Solve Land Disputes [the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes being one of these Authorities]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1603, 27.3.2008

  • US Denies Plan to Provide More Aid to Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • Government Sells Rice to Citizens at a Cheap Price [of Riel 2,250, approx. US$0.56 per kg – Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]
  • Economic Police Checks Prices of Goods on the Market [Phnom Penh]
  • More Than 10,000 Hectares of Flooded Forest Land in Kompong Thom Surrounded with Dike Constructions to Be Claimed [by businesspeople and officials]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #124, 27.3.2008

  • Eng Chhay Eang Resigns as Vice-President of National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes
  • Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association Demands Phnom Penh Regime Decrease Prices of Goods on the Market

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #7, 26-28.3.2008

  • Minister of Environment [Mok Mareth]: 59% of Trees Still Remain in Cambodia [he said that there are still many trees]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6307, 27.3.2008

  • Gas and Oil Income Is Not Enough for Economic Development
  • In 2008, Government Has the Goal to Issue 1 Million Land Titles
  • South Korea Requires Troops to Take a [Hot] Bath Only Once a Week and Reduce Training in Order to Save Energy

Meatophum, Vol.52, #682, 26-29.3.2008

  • Khmer King Visits Site of Oil Production in Brunei

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3423, 27.3.2008

  • US Ambassador Says Khmer Rouge Tribunal Spends Less Money Than Criminal Court in Yugoslavia
  • Limitation of Number of Observers Will Make Elections Not Free and Not Fair
  • Government Announces Suspension of Rice Exports for Two Months

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #45, .3.2008

  • League of Rice Millers’ Association Carries 500 Tonnes of “Neang Minh” Rice to Sell at Phsar Chas Stalls, Phnom Penh [at Riel 2,600, approx. US$0.65]

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Wednesday, 26.3.2008: Samdech Dekchor: Increasing Rice Price Is Caused By Dishonest Groups

Posted on 27 March 2008. Filed under: Week 553 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 553

“Kompong Thom: Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen considers the recent increase in the price of rice as strange, because ‘it is caused by opportunists and dishonest merchants. The most important thing is that these people want to shoot two birds with one arrow. The biggest bird targeted is Hun Sen.’

“In the morning of 25 March 2008, at the inauguration ceremony of Wat Seila Nimith in Kreal, Baray, Kompong Thom, Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, the prime minister of the Cambodian government, said that some people in Kompong Cham, Kampot, and Kandal believe, ‘Samdech Hun Sen makes the price of one kilogram of rice equal to that of one liter of gasoline, in order to help the people in the countryside. They believe that this is the reason that the price of rice increases. As for other people in a number of cities and provinces, they said that Samdech Dekchor makes the price of land rise, and people sell off all land; as the result, there is not much land left to do farming; therefore the price of rice soars.’

“In response to the problem, Samdech Dekchor said that he is not able to make the price of rice equal to that of gasoline, and that there are not enough investors to buy the more than 3 million hectares of farming land, which is the amount of land Cambodian farmers are farming. Land where the price is increasing is land in areas for the construction of factories and the establishment of special economic zones. Therefore it does not mean that the price of land rises everywhere, which would make people sell off their land and make the price of rice increase.

“Samdech Dekchor added that the price of rice should have increased in 2000 and 2001, when there were big floods in Cambodia. But at that time the price of rice stayed stable. This time, however, the price of rice is increasing, because the price of rice in Cambodia is lower than in other countries in the region [so there is demand in neighboring countries for Cambodian rice]. Even Malaysia is considering buying rice from Cambodia, while Thailand and Vietnam are already buying rice from Cambodia.

“Samdech Dekchor asked, ‘Does Cambodia lack rice?’ He continued, ‘A number of dishonest merchants are spreading rumors about the lack of rice on the market.’ Samdech confirmed that the government had stockpiled about 50,000 tonnes of rice to supply the demand of the market. Saying that there is a lack of rice on the market is an unfortunate rumor. In Cambodia, only the Khmer Republic regime encountered a crisis because of a lack of rice in the cities in 1972 and 1975, which required some people to buy rice and store it up, because the Republicans could not control the situation.

“Samdech Dekchor added, ‘If anyone is strong enough economically, please come to buy rice from Hun Sen at Riel 5,000 per kilogram. I will make you go bankrupt by selling you rice at Riel 5,000 per kilogram and letting you hoard rice, and then we will put our stocks on the market and sell them at a cheaper price, which will cause you to immediately become unconscious [get suddenly bankrupt]. Cambodia follows a free market economy, where a black market could not exist buying rice for stockpiling and then selling it secretly. He urged, ‘Please do not get cheated, because the rumor is wrong in both strategy and analysis. A black market has only illegal goods, such as guns, which are prohibited by law.’

“Samdech Dekchor proposed that people be calm in this situation, and the Ministry of Commerce has to go immediately to examine all rice mills which closed their operation, because they might be one of the main causes. If the rice mills keep stocks of rice and do not sell it, the ministry must take administrative measures soon against them as well as against rice stores in the markets. Samdech Dekchor ordered the authorities and especially the economic police to take strict measures against those who spread rumors to cause economic sabotage.

“Samdech Hun Sen continued to say that the problem of an increasing rice price is a trend of the global economy, and that the rising fuel price causes the increase in the price of many goods, including rice.

“The global economy is encountering and facing a crisis because the US economy, which is an engine of global economic growth, is suffering serious deficits. This seriously affects also the Cambodian economy, because Cambodia exports goods to the US at about US$3 billion annually, and the government is expressing its concerns.

“Samdech added that some people want the government to set the price of goods on the market, but he said, ‘To do so would be taking a long step backward, because it would just be an attempt to introduce a planned economy, and then a totalitarian regime would take over in Cambodia.’” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4550, 26.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Areyathor, Vol.14, #1317, 26-27.3.2008

  • Presence of Prime Minister in Sihanoukville Is the Sound of Bell Telling Other Provincial Governors to Be Careful [about land disputes]

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #71, 25.3.2008

  • [President of Human Rights Party] Kem Sokha: Citizens Will No Longer Exchange Votes for Sarongs [Khmer skirts] and Monosodium Glutamate
  • Hun Sen Dared to Use Iron-Faced Court and Iron Fist [his decision] to Provide Justice to 150,000 People Whose Land Had Been Robbed by Officials and Oknhas

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #62, 26.3-1.4.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen] Declares to Sell Rice at Riel 5,000 [approx. US$1.25] per kg to Wicked People [who provoke high price of rice]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1602, 26.3.2008

  • Most Workers Will Leave Factories in Phnom Penh because Prices of Goods Are Too High

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #123, 26.3.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kompong Cham] Mao Monyvann: High Price of Rice Caused by Irresponsible Khmer Leaders
  • It Is Said [by a government official] that the Government Sold [former] Long Chhin Company Area at Nearly US$1 Billion to a Korean Company
  • Hun Sen Asks the King to Appoint Keang Vang [former Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kampot who has recently defected to Funcinpec] to Be 4-Star General; Funcinpec Prepares to Commemorate Resistance Members in Angkor Chum District, Siem Reap

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6306, 26.3.2008

  • Microsoft Creates Partners for Market Development in Cambodia
  • Number of Tourists to Cambodia in 2007 Is More Than 2 Million; Number of Tourists from Vietnam Ranked Fourth [after South Korea, Japan, and US]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3422, 26.3.2008

  • Concerning High Price of Rice, Prime Minister Should Blame [Minister of Agriculture] Chan Sarun, but He Threatens to Arrest Other People
  • Sam Rainsy Party Will Hold Buddhist Ceremony to Commemorate Victims [of grenade attack] on 30 March
  • Khmer Rouge Tribunal Should Not Become a Place to Spend Money Funnily and Uselessly

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4550, 26.3.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor: Increasing Rice Price Is Caused By Dishonest Groups
  • Thailand Also Stunned at High Price of Rice [in Thailand during recent weeks]
  • Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Confirms that 4,500 Cambodian Women Have Taken [Taiwanese] Nationality
  • Prime Minister of Qatar [Sheik Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani] Will Visit Cambodia in Early April

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #648, 26.3.2008

  • Trade Unions of More Than 150 Factories Will Hold Large Strike for Three Days Starting from 27 March [demanding pay rise and decrease of prices of goods – they have permission from the Ministry of Interior]
  • Sam Rainsy Will Run Opposition Party for All His Life
  • [Funcinpec secretary-general] Nhek Bun Chhay Hopes Funcinpec Will Get Not Fewer Than 26 Parliamentary Seats

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Tuesday, 25.3.2008: Samdech Dekchor Declared to Provide 125 Families With 16 Hectares of Land, After Unjust Bullets of Private Company Had Been Fired

Posted on 26 March 2008. Filed under: Week 553 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 553

“Sihanoukville: Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen arrived in Sihanoukville on 24 March 2008 to directly solve a land dispute in Kompenh, Sangkat III, Mittapheap, between 125 families and the Thai Boon Roong Company.

“While meeting with the villagers, Samdech Dekchor expressed his regret for some negative actions taken by some representatives of the authorities which caused clashes with villagers, and they caused also injuries and four people were even detained for a short period of time.

“Samdech also allocated some areas for constructing roads and for building a rest hall for travelers on two hectares of land. Samdech also ordered the other three detainees to be released before he flew back to Phnom Penh.

“Samdech was sad and apologized to the victims, and he said that this is because he did not admonished his officials properly; otherwise such things would not happen. He scolded the authorities for letting private companies build fences as they like, while protests were going on. He said, ‘It’s like tying people’s hands and allowing a company to do what they want.’ Samdech also provided the victim, who was wounded by gunshots by the military police working for the company, with US$500, and the three detainees with US$300 respectively. He also ordered to build a road within the village.

“Samdech ordered that property titles must be issued to those people within a week, even if the authorities have to work day and night. Enthusiasm developed; loudspeakers played for the people to dance, cheerful because of these news. Repetitive Bravos for Samdech Dekchor were happily shouted by the people; and they expressed their commitment to follow the path that was cleared by the wisdom of Samdech.

“It is noted that one villager was injured during the clash between the police with the people of this village. The incident happened on 20 March 2008, around 9:30 p.m., while villagers went to destroy the fence built by the Thai Boon Roong Company, because they claimed that this company has grabbed their land.

“Vat Pheap, 37, was a victim of that incident. He was fired at three times. One injury was on his left arm while the other two injuries were on one foot and on the right thigh. He is now receiving medical treatment in a hospital. The people claimed that they have been living on the disputed land since a long time ago. Later, however, the Thai Boon Roong Company constructed a concrete fence around the land. Even though the citizens complained against this, the company did not stop the construction. On the contrary, the company hired an armed police force. Before the incident, the citizens broke the fence in order to open the way, so they could walk again over the land. At that time, many armed police pointed their guns at the citizens, and then took some of them away in a van. Among them were: 1) Neung Sann, male, 2) Sok Chandara, male, 3) Um Sareoun, female, and 4) Heang Sotheary, female. Four of them were taken to the headquarter of the municipal armed police. At that time, relatives of those people filed complaints to get the four citizens released. Police fired at Vat Pheap; he fell down on the ground. Among those who were caught was an American-Khmer citizen, who was also there, but he was released afterwards.

“The land crisis is getting worse nowadays, as many hectares of land are claimed by private companies all over the country. Many companies do not develop their own land, but just construct a concrete fence around it. Some people, who do not have their own land, then go to live on other people’s land. This is also causing land disputes.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6305, 25.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2765, 25.3.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Flew by Helicopter to Announce the Provision of Land to 125 Families Who Have Had Disputes with the Thai Bun Roong Company in Sihanoukville

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1601, 25.3.2008

  • Director of Provincial Fisheries Department Allows Truckloads of Spoiled Frozen Thai Fish to Be Imported to Cambodia [Banteay Meanchey]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #122, 25.3.2008

  • [Human Rights Watch Asia Division Director] Brad Adams: Arrest of Sam Rainsy Party Officials Is Really Political
  • Hun Sen Pays People to Create New Parties to Confuse People
  • Rice Price Increases to Riel 5,000 [approx. US$1.25] per kg, Making People Complain; as for the Power Holder [Hun Sen], He Just Tries to Go on Boasting [about high prices of land]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6305, 25.3.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor Declared to Provide 125 Families With 16 Hectares of Land, After Unjust Bullets of Private Company Had Been Fired
  • Neutrality in Disputes among Monks: Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Calls Not to Build New Pagodas because of Disputes in Pagodas
  • Black-Clad Thai Soldiers [special border protection unit] Arrested 16 Khmer Citizens on Accusation of Entering Thailand Illegally [22 March – Kamrieng, Battambang]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3421, 25.3.2008

  • 17 Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Support Pongro Commune Chief Mr. Tuot Saran [accused of intimidation] to Stay Outside Prison
  • Sam Rainsy Party Plans to Lead Large Demonstration in Early April against Price Increases
  • Strongman [Hun Sen] Starts to Collect Votes in Pagodas [by supporting constructions] after Samdech Chief Monk Tep Vong Allowed Monks to Exercise the Right to Vote
  • Human Rights Watch Concerned about Elections in Cambodia
  • Hun Sen’s Sub-Decree [allowing civilians to use guns] Will Increase Number of Robbers

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4549, 25.3.2008

  • King Visits Brunei Darussalam
  • Samdech Dekchor: ‘Buddhism Has Important Role in Social Development’
  • Officials Believe that Price of Rice Increases because of Provokers

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3278, 25.3.2008

  • More Than 13 Hectares of Land Taken from Businessman Theng Boon Ma for 125 Families in Order to Attract Votes
  • One-Week Deadline [given by Prime Minister Hun Sen] for Banteay Meanchey Authorities to Solve Land Disputes for 335 Families

Have a look at last week’s editorial

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Monday, 24.3.2008: Samdech Dekchor Told Politicians That They Should Recognize Their Own Weaknesses

Posted on 25 March 2008. Filed under: Week 553 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 553

“Kompong Chhnang: Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen told politicians [of other political parties] on 22 March 2008 that they should recognize their own weaknesses which led to rifts in their own parties, rather than trying to put the blame on their [former] party members.

“Referring to Norodom Ranariddh Party [NRP] leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] leader Mr. Sam Rainsy, Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen said, ‘Please don’t try to cover your weaknesses. I guarantee that no one would be able to beat Hun Sen; only Hun Sen can beat Hun Sen.’

“Samdech Prime Minister sent this message to the public during a groundbreaking ceremony of a pagoda in Tuek Phos, Kompong Chhnang. He said that no one can beat the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP], only the CPP itself can do so. He said, ‘If the CPP members are not holding hands to reach out to the Cambodian people, but do bad things, then the CPP will be weak. If everyday we trod around here and there to violate the rights of the people, and if we do not do good things following Buddhism, who would believe Hun Sen? Therefore, those parties should recognize their own weaknesses.’

“Samdech Prime Minister also said that Mr. Nhek Bun Chhay was accused by Prince Ranariddh that he [Nhek Bun Chhay] is the one who split Funcinpec. As for Mr. Ngor Sovann and Mr. Sok Pheng, they were accused by their party leader of leading party members to leave the SRP and to defect to the CPP.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen welcomed the senior SRP members who defected to the CPP, adding that ‘this is a good choice.’ Samdech Dekchor praised Mr. Ngo Sovann [a defector from the SRP], who also participated in the ceremony, for choosing the right path in order to develop the country as an intellectual.

“Samdech said that even with 57 political parties, it will be clear in the people’s minds what it means when they see intellectuals choosing the ruling CPP. This is the way they can help develop the country.

“Almost ten thousand people participated in the ceremony. This pagoda was first constructed in 1995. It cost about US$212,500. Samdech also showed his thanks to those who contributed to the construction of the pagoda. He encouraged all generous people to maintain the spirit of sharing, in order to construct the nation more and more.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1600, 23-24.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 24 March 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #70, 24.3.2008

  • [President of Human Rights Party] Kem Sokha Calls the Increase of Salaries for Teachers before Elections Demagogy of the Ruling Party
  • [President of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia] Chea Mony Declares to Lead Workers to Strike on 27 March to Demand a Pay Rise, and They Might Hold a Large Demonstration
  • State Loses Much Income from Smuggled Goods through Trapeang Phlong Border Crossing [Ponhea Kraek district, Kompong Cham]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1600, 23-24.3.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor Told Politicians That They Should Recognize Their Own Weaknesses
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Dreams about Becoming Prime Minister While His Activists Continually Leave

Khmer Amatak, Vol.9, #566, 24.3.2008

  • Samdech Krom Preah [Prince Ranariddh] Thanks US International Republican Institute for Helping Norodom Ranariddh Party to Strengthen Its Force throughout the Country [with trainings for trainers]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6304, 24.3.2008

  • 95 Houses Destroyed by Rain Storm in Kamrieng District [21 March – Battambang]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3420, 24.3.2008

  • Human Rights Organization [Cambodian Center for Human Rights] Finds Irregularity in Arrest of Sam Rainsy Party Commune Chief [former Sam Rainsy Party activist Tim Norn was paid US$200 by Sok Pheng, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian who has recently joined the Cambodian People’s Party, to attract other Sam Rainsy Party members to join the Cambodian People’s Party. After spending the all money without being able to report success to Sok Pheng, Tim Norn was frightened and tried to seek help from Sam Rainsy Party officials in Baray]
  • Three Russey Keo District Deputy Governors [Chan Savuth, Koup Sleh, and Koeut Chhe], Who Ordered Security Forces to Use Violence, Are Sued by [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh] Mr. Ho Vann for US$15,000 Compensation [on accusation of injuring him while he was trying to protect a Sam Rainsy Party signboard from being removed – 22 March – Phnom Penh]
  • Price of Rice Skyrockets; Hun Sen Busy to Create Sub-Decree Allowing Civilians to Use Guns

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4548, 23-24.3.2008

  • Mr. Sar Kheng: 2008 Elections Will Be Better Than Previous Ones

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #646, 24.3.2008

  • Sam Rainsy Government Is beyond the Horizon
  • Young People’s Votes [of the Sam Rainsy Party] Cannot Overcome the Cambodian People’s Party [says the Prime Minister, a Cambodian People’s Party leader
  • Opposition Party’s Blood Is Exhausted
  • Whether UN Human Rights Office Is to Continue in Cambodia or to Close Depends on [Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia] Yash Ghai’s Attitude

Have a look at last week’s editorial

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Week 552 – 2008-03-23: Law Enforcement – or Force Instead of the Law

Posted on 24 March 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 552 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 552

On Tuesday last week, we had mirrored an article where the Prime Minister expressed his concerns that some persons were allegedly intimidated, and he said “We have to protect all people regardless which party they belong to.” And he added: “If an official or a member of the Cambodian People’s Party threatens other people who do not belong to their party, it would be a serious mistake. I hope that such cases will not happen. This is really a mistake.” These are statements that violence is not acceptable in the political field.

On Thursday, we reported about the meeting of the 7th session of the UN Human Rights Council, where the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Yash Ghai, presented his report. His report included a reference to the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) and the Penal Procedure Code (PPC) which came into force in Cambodia in the meantime, and the Civil Code and the Penal Code are expected to come into force in 2008. “These codes will lead to improvements in the legal process,” he said. He also voice concerns about some changes which he considered to be problematic: “Previously, a confession could not be a basis for conviction unless corroborated by other evidence. This safeguard is removed, giving confessions the same weight as other evidence (art. 321), although the Penal Procedural Code reiterates the prohibition on the use of coerced confessions. There is a heavy reliance on confessions, many obtained through coercion or torture. The new rule could undermine the prohibition of evidence obtained by forced confessions by the Constitution and the Convention against Torture.” Mr. Yash Ghai was not only speaking about his own impressions, but he reported with reference to the 34 pages detailed report by LICADHO: Human Rights in Cambodia – the Charade of Justice. – The Internet references which we provided on Thursday – including the video presentations in Khmer and in English translation by the head of the Cambodian government’s human rights committee, Mr. Om Yentieng, as well as the concluding discussion, where Mr. Yash Ghai expressed his appreciation, encouragement, and thanks about his meeting with Mr. Om Yentieng on the same day, show that these encounters went much more positively than some voices in Cambodia wanted to see. There is agreement that not force, but the law has to be applied.

Last Friday, we carried another article relate to the field of the rule of law. The US ambassador criticized that over 25% of accused persons are intimidated and tortured in order to get confessions form them – even forced confessions. His statement was made with reference to the detailed, 45 pages 2007 report of the “Court Watch Project” of the Center for Social Development, describing in detail the legal situation in Cambodia, and confronting it with their own investigations, how the law is not followed in many cases. But the application of violence in order to achieve confession from suspects is not acceptable.

This agreement, that the rule of law does not allow to violate basic human rights, is however, not generally shared.

When the US ambassador denounced the use of intimidation and torture to secure confessions, he was using arguments which have a long and firm basis in the history and public debate of the United States of America. But some of these fundamental traditions have become the subject of sharp controversies in the USA during the last couple of year, months, and even weeks and days. And some of these discussions have also been carried on with reference to inhuman practices during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Some events in US supervised prisons in Iraq, on the US controlled enclave of Guantanamo on the island of Cuba, and in other places have shown that the confrontation with terrorism has led to actions which are controversial – and therefore they led to public debate.

Even a group of 30 retired admirals and generals wrote in December 2007 a public letter, saying:

“We believe it is vital to the safety of our men and women in uniform that the United States not sanction the use of interrogation methods it would find unacceptable if inflicted by the enemy against captured Americans… In order to ensure adherence across the government to the requirements of the Geneva Conventions and to maintain the integrity of the humane treatment standards on which our own troops rely, we believe that all US personnel – military and civilian – should be held to a single standard of humane treatment reflected in the Army Field Manual…

Employing interrogation methods that violate the Field Manual is not only unnecessary, but poses enormous risks. These methods generate information of dubious value, reliance upon which can lead to disastrous consequences. Moreover, revelation of the use of such techniques does immense damage to the reputation and moral authority of the United States essential to our efforts to combat terrorism.”

One of the US presidential candidates, John McCain, who had spent 5½ years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, was quoted in October 2007, referring to his own past life experience:

“Anyone who knows what waterboarding is – simulated drowning – could not be unsure. It is a horrible torture technique used by Pol Pot…

People who have worn the uniform and had the experience know that this is a terrible and odious practice and should never be condoned in the US. We are a better nation than that.

When I was imprisoned, I took heart from the fact that I knew my North Vietnamese captors would never be treated like I was treated by them. There are much better and more effective ways to get information. You torture someone long enough, he’ll tell whatever he thinks you want to know.”

Efforts to prohibit the use of such forms of torture like waterboarding, by new, clearer legislation, were overturned by President Bush on 8 March 2008, when he refused to sign such a new US law.

US Senator Edward Kennedy had warned: “Unless Congress overrides the veto, it will go down in history as a flagrant insult to the rule of law, and a serious stain on the good name of America in the eyes of the world.”

To try to overturn a presidential veto, for which a two-thirds-majority is necessary, the House of representatives met on 11 March – and failed with a 225 to 188 vote; 51 more votes would have been necessary.

John McCaine, who had spoken so clearly against the use of torture, had in the meantime changed his position and supported the presidential veto – while another presidential candidate, Barrack Obama, said: “I believe that we must reject torture without equivocation because it does not make us safe, it results in unreliable intelligence, it puts our troops at risk, and it contradicts core American values.”

This is the background from which the US ambassador addressed the problem of torture in Cambodian detention and prisons.

But this not only an American discussion – it relates to the fundamental understanding of human rights. Recently a candidate, who was to join the Constitutional Court of Germany, failed to get the necessary agreement from the members of parliament – he is a university professor, and the president of the German Association of Academic Teachers of Constitutional Law – because he had written that in some situations, it may be permissible to torture a criminal in order to save the life on another victim. The fact that he did not absolutely reject torture disqualified him to be acceptable as a member of the constitutional court.

The fact that the US ambassador criticized the situation in Cambodia, where 25 % of suspects report to have been tortured, poses a tremendous challenge to the Cambodian legal and political public: is just the number of 25 % too high? Or is torture fundamentally wrong, giving the wrong signal to the national and international public, which position a society accords to human dignity and to human rights. As Senator Kennedy had said before: will the law, or the opinion of the top political leader – the president – be the law? The same question is always and everywhere to be faced, difficult as it is.

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Saturday, 22.3.2008: The Government Approves Sub-Decree Draft That Regulates Civilians’ Use of Guns

Posted on 23 March 2008. Filed under: Week 552 | Tags: , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 552

“Phnom Penh: The meeting of the Council of Ministers on 21 March 2008, presided over by Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, approved the sub-decree draft on the conditions and procedures for allowing civilians to use and manage guns, bullets, and explosive devices. The sub-decree, drafted by the Ministry of Interior, covers the owning, using, purchasing, selling, trading, distributing, lending, renting, producing, modifying, assembling, transporting, importing, exporting, transiting, and storing guns, bullets, and explosive devices.

“Guns, bullets and explosive devices, which civilians are allowed to use, are laser guns, sporting pistols, artistic guns, fireworks, staple guns, ammunitions, explosives, and all kinds of explosive substances, no matter what their origin. These are only to serve public services and civil engineering, or in the construction of buildings.

“The meeting of the Council of Ministers also agreed on and approved a request that seeks the ratification by legislative institutions on the ‘agreement between the Cambodian and North Korean governments on the promotion and protection of investment.’

“During the meeting, Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen also gave recommendations to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, to conduct a joint feasibility study on a 40-kilometer road construction from Koh Kong to a hydropower site located in Stung Russey Chrum Krom as soon as possible. Samdech Dekchor also told the Phnom Penh governor as well as other authorities to pay close attention to keeping good security and social order. All efforts should be made to ensure security for the Cambodian people throughout the country during this coming Khmer New Year. All people should be educated to avoid using guns, not to ignite firecrackers, and not to splash water on travelers.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4547, 22.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 22 March 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1599, 22.3.2008

  • Phnom Penh Residents Stunned About a Rumor that the City Will Have Not Water for Three Days; Municipality Denies
  • Leaders of Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Go to New York to Report on the Progress of the Tribunal
  • Dragon Displayed above Siem Reap River [made of plastic wastes] in Order to Promote the Idea of Cleaning Up Garbage along the River
  • A Man Walked with His Wife along a Street, Beating and Kicked Her until She Was Unconscious [21 March – Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh]; He Escaped

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6303, 22-23.3.2008

  • So Far, the Cambodian People’s Party Has Nearly 5 Million Members [and if all of them vote for the CPP, the CPP will be able to create a government alone – says Madame Bun Rany Hun Sen]
  • 18-Year-Old Girl Raped by Two Men [ [unknown, who escaped ] She Is Now Three Months Pregnant [Prey Chhor, Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3419, .3.2008

  • [Secretary-general of Sam Rainsy Party] Eng Chhay Ieng : We Continue to Struggle so that Cambodia Has Proper Laws

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4547, 22.3.2008

  • The Government Approves Sub-Decree Draft That Regulates Civilians’ Use of Guns
  • Prices of Rice in Siem Reap Skyrocket; Citizens Rush to Buy Rice to Stock
  • Former Japanese Prime Minister [Abe Shinzo] Happy While Meeting Cambodian Students [during inauguration of a school building in Thnal Totueng, Kompong Tralach, Kompong Chhnang]
  • H.E. Bun Rany Hun Sen Reacts against the Garage Owner Who Cut Off Thumbs and Toes of a Worker [who had borrowed a motorcycle and then returned it too late – Kompong Cham – she requests authorities of all levels to arrest the perpetrator to have him punished – she gives gifts to the victim]
  • Mr. Eng Chhay Ieng’s Intimate [Prak Chanthy] Joins the Cambodian People’s Party
  • Women Commune and Subdistrict Council Members Needs Motivation
  • Fake [Lady] Excellency and a Village Chief Detained on Accusation of Cutting Trees to Get Land to Sell in Preah Vihear

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3276, 22.3.2008

  • Government Armed Forces, Paid by Thai Bun Roong Company [to protect land], Hunt the Victim [who was wounded with bullets in land disputes in Sihanoukville] in Hospital

Have a look at last week’s editorial

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Friday, 21.3.2008: Mr. Joseph Mussomeli Criticized that Over 25% of Accused Persons Are Tortured or Forced to Confess

Posted on 22 March 2008. Filed under: Week 552 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 552

“Corruption in the judicial system of Cambodia is being strongly criticized by donors and local human rights organizations, as well as by civil society. In contrast, groups of high-ranking officials who committed serious crimes, are free from punishment, but poor citizens always suffer from unjust and corrupt courts.

“During the report presentation of the Court Watch Project for the year 2007, a program of the Center for Social Development [CSD], held on 20 March 2008, the US Ambassador Mr. Joseph Mussomeli said, ‘Last year I admired the Cambodian judicial system. Obviously, the public and the citizens must be allowed to hear a trial freely. This is a crucial step toward transparency and the building of a culture of the rule of law. It is a priority to do so. Nothing is more important than to educate citizens to be aware of the rule of law. In human society, there are only two systems; one is dictatorship, where the most powerful and the richest are those who are in control; the other system is the rule of law, which accords equality and justice to all people. Therefore also those who are considered to be suspects are not different [they have also be treated with equality and justice], also if they are unjustly abused by the rich. Last week, I shared with law students a statement by Mr. Anarcharsis, a [sixth century before Christ] Greek scholar, who said, ”Laws are like spider webs; they will catch, it is true, the weak and poor, but would be torn in pieces by the rich and powerful.” But it is our job to prove that the statement of Mr. Anarcharsis is not true. It means that there must be a mechanism to evaluate and measure the work of the court system, in order to make sure that it is not like a spider web catching only the poor and the weak. If the rule of law is in progress, it will be transparent that it is implementing the work of the courts, and the work of the Center for Social Development will be more transparent keeping a close watch on the courts. This is a most praiseworthy and important service for Khmer society.’

“The annual report of the CSD clearly shows what is happening in the courtrooms. It indicates the lack of proper ‘judicial procedures’ defined by a democratic society. For instance, according to observations of the CSD, in more than half of the criminal cases, the accused persons did not have their defense lawyers in court. Therefore, the current judicial system in Cambodia should be improved and upgraded.

“The CSD reported that more than 25 percent of the accused persons said that they were tortured or forced to confess something. Mr. Joseph added, ‘I remember that this percentage is similar to the previous year, which indicates that there is not much difference, as the accused persons are still pressured during interrogation. I realize that it is difficult for the Court Watch Project to confirm that such accusations are real. Some suspects may tell a lie, but the number of such accusations can confirm that there are many mistakes in the court system. I notice that, according to the report, juvenile suspects are often detained for an indefinite period of time to be sentenced. Such cases seem to happen mostly in the juvenile courts. This is injustice.

“He continued, ‘News about the courts are not always bad. Cambodian courts are moving forward and improving. The CSD reported that more victims and witnesses appeared in court to respond to charges in 2007 than in 2006. This indicates that the judicial system is improving and providing opportunities to accused persons, so that they can defend themselves against what they are charged. Moreover, officials who serve as court watchers praised the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for not sending a 14-year-old boy to prison, but just sending him to a correction center instead.’ There are many more efforts that the judicial system needs to make so that they can win the trust of people. Even while some parts of the problem are due to failures of the government, some other parts are due to failures of the people. Everyone wants to have a judicial system governed by fairness and transparency, but some people start to make exceptions in case something happens to themselves, their family, or their friends. Many people who normally ask for transparency, will then want to have special attention. It is natural that everyone wants attention, but it is not good to ask for exceptions. This is also something where many organizations and the CSD can help.’

“The US ambassador praised the CSD for its efforts this year, and he also appreciated the struggle of government officials and their willingness to cooperate with the CSD and its Court Watch Project. ‘The US government has the honor to assist in this task.’” Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #69, 21.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 21 March 2008

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2764, 21.3.2008

  • Banteay Meanchey: Officials of the Committee for Land Distribution to Landless People, an Action Promoted by the Prime Minister, Take Land to Share Among Each Other
  • Military Police, Who Protect Land for the Thai Bun Roong Company, Wounded a Man with Bullets in a Land Dispute [20 March – Sihanoukville]

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #69, 21.3.2008

  • Mr. Joseph Mussomeli Criticized that Over 25% of Accused Persons Are Tortured or Forced to Confess
  • [Human Rights Party President] Kem Sokha: Increasing Rice Price Is a Threat to Khmer Citizens’ Livelihood

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1598, 21.3.2008

  • Royal Government Representative [Mr. Om Yentieng] Rejects Report of Mr. Yash Ghai [Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia] in the Session of the UN Human Rights Council
  • Members of the Sam Rainsy Party and the Norodom Ranariddh Party in Two Provinces [Banteay Meanchey and Ratanakiri] Rush to Join the Cambodian People’s Party
  • Big Site of Drug Production in Phnom Penh Raided; Five People Arrested [19 March – Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6302, 21.3.2008

  • Nuon Chea Continues to Be Detained; Hearings of Khiev Samphan and Ieng Thirith Will Be Held [21-23 April 2008]
  • It Is a Shame that [ten] Foreign Tourists Entering through the Poipet Border Crossing [took the initiative and] Cleaned up Garbage [18 March 2008]
  • Khmer Artist [Leang Sikan] Created a Dragon from Plastic Wastes [and put it on a Siem Reap River bridge] for World Water Day [22 March]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3418, 21.3.2008

  • Mr. Joseph A. Mussomeli: More Than 50% of Those Accused of Crimes Do Not Have Lawyers to Defend Them
  • Prime Minister Happy about Increase of Land Prices; People Worried about Increase of Rice Prices

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1293, 21.3.2008

  • Dekchor Hun Sen [expressing his loyalty to the monarchy]: I Pray to Meet the King Again in Our Next Birth

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4546, 21.3.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor [during inauguration of Bangkok Hospital branch in Phnom Penh on 20 March]: ‘Tens of Thousands of Cambodian Citizens Go for Medical Treatments Abroad Each Year’
  • Former Japanese Prime Minister [Abe Shinzo] Comes to Visit Cambodia to Provide a School Building to Khmer Children [in Thnal Totueng]
  • Tourist Guides Encourage Sex Tourism [by showing their clients sex destinations, in order to get commissions or tips – says Madame You Ay, Secretary of State of Women’s Affairs and head of the National Taskforce against Trafficking in Persons]

Have a look at last week’s editorial

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