Thursday, 20.3.2008: Report of Yash Ghai Unfolded the Failure of Legal and Judicial Reform in Cambodia

Posted on 21 March 2008. Filed under: Week 552 | Tags: |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 552

“A foreign news agency reported that Mr. Yash Ghai, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, criticized government of Prime Minister Hun Sen on 19 March 2008, who is thought to be addictive to power [this judgment by the journalist is not part of Mr. Yash Ghai’s report], about the failure of legal and judicial reforms, and about letting human rights to be seriously violated. Mr. Yash Ghai submitted his third report [click on the report – find “Cambodia” – click on “E” for English to download A.HRC.7.42.doc] to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in its Seventh Session meeting from 3 to 28 March 2008 in Geneva. He strongly criticized the failures of the Cambodian Government.

[There are webcasts available, video-voice-recordings here, first select “19 March 2008”, then look for and click on “Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Yash Ghai” in English, and for “Cambodia as a concerned country, Mr. Om Yentieng” – in translation in [English], and in the original in [Cambodian]. – Also responses to the report of Mr. Yash Ghai are recorded at the same section form Japan, Slovenia (on behalf of the European Union), Malaysia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Sweden, from the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH), Amnesty International, and finally answers to the questions and final remarks by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia]

“According to the report of Yash Ghai, the Royal Government of Cambodia was not doing enough to reform the legal and judicial system, but the international community continued to provide Cambodia with assistance, even when there were human rights violations. Mr. Yash Ghai quoted from a report by LICADHO [Ligue cambodgienne des droits de l’homme – Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights: Human Rights in Cambodia – the Charade of Justice] published in December 2007, which states that the judicial system in Cambodia has failed, despite the intervention by the United Nation Transitional Authority in Cambodia [UNTAC, 1992/93], and of 15 years of aid for legal and judicial reform.

“The report continues that ‘in 2007, the primary functions of the courts continue to be: To prosecute political opponents and other critics of the Government, To perpetuate impunity for State actors and their associates, and To promote the economic interests of the rich and powerful.’ The twenty five-pages report of Mr. Yash Ghai gives details about human rights violation, impunity, victimization of others, violations of the principles of a market economy, violation of land ownership rights, land disputes, and the lack of independence of the court system.

“Mr. Yash Ghai stated in his report that there was little respect for the rule of law in Cambodia. The national and the international community must address the severe consequences of the lack of the rule of law. The report continued describing land grabbing, forced evictions, and the detention of protesters. Thirteen community representatives face criminal lawsuit because they protested against forced eviction in Phnom Penh [Report Section 37: Dey Krahom], while other thirteen villagers were arrested and accused of criminally damaging other people’s properties [Report Section 36: Spean Ches, Sihanoukville].

“A spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia refused to comment on the report of Mr. Yash Ghai [but Mr. Om Yentieng, the head of the Cambodian government’s human rights committee, spoke at the Geneva meeting – see link above]. The Prime Minister, Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, has already strongly condemned the report of Mr. Yash Ghai. He even criticized the situation of Kenya, where Mr. Yash Ghai was born. The Prime Minister declared that he would never allow Mr. Yash Ghai to meet him.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia has filed a complaint to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon about the inappropriate evaluation of Mr. Yash Ghai, who stated that the court system is corrupt, and who reported about human rights violation in Cambodia. Mr. Yash Ghai recommended that the Royal Government of Cambodia should actively take responsibility to reinforce the rule of law and to promote the respect for human rights by the government and in society. However, the government of Mr. Hun Sen, who is so addictive to power [this judgment by the journalist is not part of Mr. Yash Ghai’s report], did not take the recommendations of Mr. Yash Ghai into consideration. The government uses all kinds of tricks to cover its bad behavior.

“According to foreign news agencies, the statement of Mr. Yash Ghai in the meeting of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations session on 19 March, yesterday morning, informed the world about the situation of human rights, lawlessness, and the failure of legal and judicial reforms in Cambodia, although the Ministry of Foreign Affair of Cambodia, led by Mr. Hor Namhong, is trying to hide these problems from the by public.

“The same foreign [public UN] sources of information show that Mr. Yash Ghai is not the only person who reported about the conditions of human rights in Cambodia. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Human Right Committee of Asia, ADHOC, and LICADHO also provided the UN Council for Human Rights with similar reports. Therefore, the situation that the Royal Government of Cambodia failed to reform the legal and judicial systems, as well as the fact that human rights violations continue, cannot be hidden from the public.

“However, many people believe that the international community and the donors also need to share the responsibility for the failure of the Cambodian government, because they keep providing more and more aid to the Hun Sen government, even while they see irregularities and corruption practiced in the Cambodian judicial system, while human rights violations increase. In this regards, the international community and the donors should reconsider this issue. A big portion of the assistance does not reach the hands of the really needy people.

“Some members of civil society believe that the situation of human rights violations in Cambodia is even worse than what Mr. Yash Ghai described. For instance, in the period towards the fourth general elections, there are more and more cases of violent land grabbings in many cities and provinces, committed by high-ranking officers and businesspersons who are closely related to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #417, 20.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 20 March 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #68, 20.3.2008

  • Foreign Diplomats Supports Report by Yash Ghai [Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia] in a Session of the UN Human Rights Council
  • [President of Human Rights Party] Kem Sokha Asks Citizens to Vote for the Human Rights Party to Lead the Government in 2008 to Reduce Prices of Gasoline and Goods
  • Ethnic Minority Tribes Villagers Accuse National Assembly Committee of Being Biased in favor of Ms. Keat Kolney [younger sister of Mr. Keat Chhon, Minister of Economy and Finance] in Land Disputes [in Ratanakiri]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1597, 20.3.2008

  • Approximately 100 Citizens [from Kandal Stung, Kandal] Come to Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen’s Residence in Tuol Krasaing Accusing [Heng Development] Company of Grabbing Their Land
  • Citizens of Stung Bat Village [Ou Chrov, Banteay Meanchey] Come to Phnom Penh to Ask Samdech Prime Minister to Help to Find Justice over Land Grabbing
  • 1,135 Sam Rainsy Party Activists from Rolea B’ier District Ask to Join Cambodian People’s Party in Kompong Chhnang
  • Suppliers of Khmer “Neang Mlih” Rice Seeds Concerned about Buying up of Rice by Vietnamese and Thai Businesspeople at Farmers’ Rice Fields
  • [Group of wild] Tigers Have Eaten Five People [and seriously injured twelve others] in Bangladesh
  • China: Dalai Lama Wants to Make Olympic Matches Look Bad

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6301, 20.3.2008

  • Reaction against UN Official [Juan Miguel Petit, UN special reporter]; Ministry of Interior Rejects Accusation of “Child Sex Tourism” in Cambodia
  • Young Man, Who Borrowed a Motorcycle from a Garage Owner to Visit His Home and Missed Returning for Two or Three Days, Had His Thumbs and Toes Cut Off by the Garage Owner When He Returned [the perpetrator escaped – Dambae, Kompong Cham]
  • Land in Economic Areas in Phnom Penh Costs $5,000 to $6,000 per Square Meter

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3317, 20.3.2008

  • Report of Yash Ghai Unfolded the Failure of Legal and Judicial Reform in Cambodia
  • Sam Rainsy Party Demands Release of Mr. Tuot Sarang [Sam Rainsy Party commune chief who has been arrested on accusation of intimidation] Immediately and Unconditionally
  • Prices of Gasoline and Other Goods Skyrocket; It Is Maybe a Trick of the Ruling Party [to lower the prices during the election campaign again]

Have a look at last week’s editorial

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