Vietnam Said within Six Months This Year There Were Nearly 120,000 Cambodian Tourist Arrivals in Vietnam – Wednesday, 25.8.2010

Posted on 26 August 2010. Filed under: Week 679 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 679

Important Announcement

Would you please mouse-click, further up on this page here, on About The Mirror to read information about changes planned to be implemented, starting from 1 September 2010.

Thanks,

Norbert Klein
Editor of The Mirror

“Phnom Penh: Within six months of this year, the Vietnamese authorities said that the Cambodian tourist arrivals in Vietnam increased to nearly 120,000, but Cambodian experts said that most of them went for medical services.

“According to a Vietnamese agency, within six months of this year among the tourist arrivals in Vietnam, as many as 117,000 are Cambodians, an increase by 36%.

“The same source added that Ho Chi Minh City attracted most Cambodian tourists, other areas such as the highland in the central area, the Mekong low lying area, and southeast provinces followed. Ho Chi Minh City attracted from 60% to 70% of the 117,000 Khmer tourists.

“According to tourism experts, the increase in the number of Cambodian tourists to Vietnam resulted from the lifting of visas requirements between both countries. The president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, Mr. Ang Kim Eang, said on 23 August 2010 by phone that he does not have accurate figures of Khmer tourists to Vietnam, but he believes that among those tourists, most went only for medical services.

“Based on Vietnamese media, those who go for medical services in Vietnam are considered as tourists. The same source continued that each day, about 100 Cambodians seek medical services at hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City.

“An official of the Ministry of Tourism said that the Ministry does not have accurate numbers of citizens visiting foreign countries. What the Ministry has is the total number of Cambodian citizens going abroad.

“The same official added that within six months of 2010, about 232,317 Cambodian citizens went abroad.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5285, 25.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2336, 25.8.2010

  • For the Third Time, an Additional 51 Workers of the MV Factory Fainted, and the Ministry of Labor Is Requested to Close the Factory to Check the Factory
  • Cambodia Asked [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit to Warn [the Thai royalist Yellow Shirt movement leader] Sondhi Limthongkul, Who Makes Himself a Cruel Person [by using rough words to attack Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Note:

Mr. Sondhi Limthongkul [สนธิ ลิ้มทองกุล] is one of the founders of the royalist Yellow Shirt Movement. – In April 2009 he suffered an assassination attempt. In July 2010, he was indicted by the public prosecutor for lese majeste – an “anti-royalist” crime. In Thai media, he is often called a “media firebrand” because of his fiery speeches]

The speech under reference by Mr. Sondhi Limthongkul could not be found, however the response by the Press and Quick reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers, distributed to the press:

Kingdom of Cambodia
Nation Religion King

Office of the Council of Ministers
Press and Quick reaction Unit
No. 012/PRU/S/2010

Statement

The Spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PRU) of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Royal Government of Cambodia has noticed that Mr. Sondhi Limthongkun, leader of the PAD (the Yellow Shirts), in the Thailand’s weekly political nightly program broadcast over ASTV on 20 August 2010, has made slanderous statement attacking our beloved and respected leader, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, conducting a hatred campaign against the people of Cambodia, igniting the name of enmity between Cambodians and Thais. He has proven once more that he is becoming a raving lunatic. By turning deaf ear and blind eye to Sondhi Limthongkun’s hatred activities against Cambodia, the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva has become an accomplice and a sponsor of a criminal prone activity, and therefore responsible for any moral and political consequences that might happen in the future.

It is unworthy to repeat what Sondhi Limthongkun, a harebrained person had said on ASTV. However the Spokesperson of the PRU will take the high ground and wishes to bring to the attention of the public at large of the followings:

  1. Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia is admirably and deeply loved and respected by the Cambodian people. He accedes to the leadership of the Government through the holding of just and fair consecutive general elections with the majority of the votes of the people and by the unanimity of votes by the members of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
  2. He is a peace loving and peace building statesman of international stature. He had seen and experienced enough the horrors of war; he fought for the survival of the Cambodian people and the nation against the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime. In fact, he builds the great national unity among Cambodians, defends the national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, culminating in the integration of Cambodia into ASEAN family, at the regional level. On the international arena, Cambodia has been known to be a fast developing country economically and socially, a country that brings justice to the victims of crime committed against humanity through the exceptional Cambodian and UN creation and functioning of the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). For his internationally recognized dedication to peace, Samdech Prime Minister of Cambodia was awarded Doctor Honoris Causa and other numerous international awards and he is also a full-right member of the Academy of Natural Sciences.
  3. Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen. Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia is a dedicated and fervent Buddhist and is abide by the principles of non-violence. He upholds and leads traditional Buddhist festivities, and cares for aged devotees nationwide;
  4. King Noreso of Thailand, in fact, had asked for help from King of Cambodia during a Siam (Thailand) war with the Burmeses. After Siam had grown stronger, Siam forgot who had been the benefactor and behaves like a crocodile (in the Cambodian folk tale) that got burnt almost to death and begged a peasant to save its life and to bring it to a pond, and to return the favor to the peasant, the crocodile insisted that it must eat him, for what reason? Because the peasant tied the beast too tight when transporting it to the pond”. This had been the way that Siam had behaved, and the way that Siam had taken away Cambodian territories, like the provinces of Surin, Sisaket, Ubon. etc…
  5. The campaign of intoxication by Sondhi Limthongkun which proved to be unsuccessful up to now, has been turned to be a campaign of hatred from a raving lunatic who had his brain damaged by Thai bullets for his arrogance to the point of abasing himself. As the spokesperson of PRU had said before, “he, who sows the winds, will harvest the turbulence”. Therefore, Sondhi Limthongkun will wind up getting blown away and drown by Thai political typhoons. Sondhi Limthongkun is no longer a human being. He has turned into a beast and spoke cruelly and shamelessly about nonsense.

Once again, the Spokesperson of the PRU urges Thai political figures to put an end to the malicious campaign of innuendo, suggestion and speculation to fault Cambodia by raising the issue of the Temple of Preah Vihear based on their mysterious, unilateral and internationally unrecognized map, and to raise the enmity of Thai people towards Cambodia for their personal political gains in the midst of the squabbling among Thai politicians and the deep division of Thai society. The Spokesperson of the PRU strongly urges the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva to warn Sondhi Limthongkun to stop representing the Kingdom of Thailand as a whole as the kingdom of barbarians who think about violence, killing, cruelty by way of “decapitating and spiking head on the stick” as the way of political and social life. Last but not least, the Spokesperson of the PRU strongly urges the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva to take immediate action against Sondhi Limthongkun, for the sake of future good relations between Ihe two countries, for the simple reason that Sondhi Limthongkun, is less than a human being. He is indeed a cruel beast. Sondhi Limthongkun deserved to be muzzled and kept in the institution of deranged and dangerous people.

Phnom Penh, 24 August, 2010

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7043, 25.8.2010

  • Many Cubic Meters of Ebony Wood Are Exported into Thai Territory through the Thma Da Border Crossing with the Protection by Armed Personnel [Koh Kong]
  • Taiwan Advertised Medical Services in Cambodia [to attract Cambodians to receive medical services in Taiwan]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3967, 25.8.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Wants the Contract or Concession Documents to Be Published on the Website [Note: not found] of the Anti-Corruption Unit for Transparency
  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Order to Intercept Forestry Crimes Is No Longer Followed [recently, there is more illegal wood transported]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #39, 25.8.2010

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Begin Case 002 in 2011 [of the former Khmer Rouge leaders Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khiev Samphan, and Nuon Chea]
  • The Thai Ambassador Arrived in the Phnom Penh International Airport at 19:20 p.m [on 24 August 2010] and the Khmer Ambassador Will Depart at 9:40 a.m on Wednesday Morning [to Bangkok]
  • A Delegation of the European Parliament Comes to Study the Medical Sector in Cambodia

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #244, 25.8.2010

  • Cambodia Has Not Implemented the Competition Policy in Commerce as It Affects Local Companies [while they do not yet have enough ability – according to the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Cham Prasidh]
  • The Exports of Cambodia Still Face Problems Due to the Lack of Infrastructure [and expensive transportation]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5285, 25.8.2010

  • Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community Asked the King to Help Solve Problems of Khmer Kampuchea Krom People [by asking the Vietnamese government to release all Khmer citizens arrested by the Vietnamese authorities over land disputes and over the expression of opinions]
  • Vietnam Said within Six Months This Year There Were Nearly 120,000 Cambodian Tourist Arrivals in Vietnam

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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A Civil Society Group for Social Accountability and for Transparency Asked the Anti-Corruption Unit to Take Action on Tax Officials – Tuesday, 17.8.2010

Posted on 18 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: A Civil society group for social accountability and transparency demanded the Anti-Corruption Unit to take action against a section of the tax collecting system for taking more money than what the invoices issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance state.

“In the morning 16 August 2010, a civil society group for social accountability and transparency organized a press conference at the Baitong Restaurant in Phnom Penh about their fight against corruption in the form of excessive tax collection for vehicles.

“The president of the Independent Democratic Association of Non-Formal Economy, Mr. Von Pov, said during the conference that every year from July to October, a tax collection is implemented countrywide by tax officials of the Tax Department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Kingdom of Cambodia. The collection is carried out in order to build up the national budget for the restoration and maintenance of public infrastructure, and all Cambodian citizens are obliged to pay tax on their vehicles, such as cars and motorbikes, though they suffer from the global economic crisis.

“Mr. Von Pov added regarding the tax collected by tax officials, that civil society groups for social accountability and transparency noticed that most citizens, who own vehicles, were forced by tax officials to pay an excess amount over that stated on the invoices issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. He added that at present, 1,391,565 cars and trucks, and 11,356,398 motorbikes [the number of motorbikes given is unrealistically high – that means that about 80% of all citizens, including babies and the whole rural population – own a registered motorcycle; we assume the number includes a mistype and may be 1,356,398 – Editor] have been registered and allowed to travel in Cambodia and they are required to pay tax. On average, if a vehicle is required to pay an additional amount of Riel 2,000 [approx. US$0.50] to tax officials, that means Cambodian citizens waste about US$1 million each year. This is corruption resulting from public officials using their positions as public officials to gain personal gain, so that corruption does not refer only to the stealing of money.

“Mr. Von Pov went on to say that to contribute to achieve the second stage of the Rectangular Strategy and to promote good governance, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, especially the Tax Department, must supervise tax officials so that they work following the official calculations for the collection of taxes. Also, the Tax Department must punish officials who commit offenses, or collect administrative fines from them, if they collect amounts beyond the tax invoices, and the Anti-Corruption Unit must take measures in such cases.

“A Coordinator of the East Asia and Pacific Social Accountability Network, Mr. San Chey, said that even though invoices are issued by the Tax Department, still excess tax collection happens, particularly in the Ponhea Leu district in Kandal and Prey Veng. He added, ‘We will submit reports within one week to the Tax Department to take action.’

“After there had been such criticism about excess tax collections by tax officials, the Tax Department released an announcement on 10 August 2010, where the third point reads, ‘Before paying tax, please read the tax tables posted publicly and pay accordingly the amount set in these tables. If tax officials demand more, please report their names and ID Card number to the Tax Department.’

“The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng, could not be reached for comments on Monday evening, but he used to say in a previous press conference that corruption relates not only to big money, but even 50 cents can also be considered as corruption.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2329, 17.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2329, 17.8.2010

  • A Civil Society Group for Accountability and for Transparency Asked the Anti-Corruption Unit to Take Action on Tax Officials
  • The Minister of Agriculture Called On Citizens to Eat Pork Again [claiming that the ‘blue ear disease’ of pigs does not infect people]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7036, 17.8.2010

  • Cambodia Adheres to Peaceful Positions; while in Cambodia, the Secretary General of ASEAN, Mr. Surin Pitsuwan, Asked Cambodia and Thailand to Be Patient [in solving their border disputes]

Meatophoum, Vol.54, #796, 16-21.8.2010

  • Cambodia Asked Vietnam to Help Solve the Border Dispute [with Thailand; according to a letter sent by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam – who is at present chairing ASEAN – to help either within the structure of ASEAN, or directly

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3960, 17.8.2010

  • Which Tax Officials are Punished for Forcing Citizens to Pay Excessive Taxes?

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #32, 17.8.2010

  • Cambodia and Iran Signed an Agreement to Create an Economic Committee in Order to Step Up Economic Cooperation [economic cooperation between Cambodia and Iran will focus on on tourism, the oil industry, investments, agriculture, industry, Iranian export of technical services and engineering, and the exchange of expert delegates]
  • Three People Were Killed and Three Others Were Injured by Lightning [Kompong Cham]
  • Police Burnt again Chicken Meat of No Quality, but Have Never Caught a Persons Who Owns It [Banteay Meanchey]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #238, 17.8.2010

  • Prosecutors [of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] Appealed against the sentence of Duch, [the former Tuol Sleng prison chief, who was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, but considering his past jail term and the reduction of punishment, he will have to serve only about 19 more years]
  • Thailand Arrested a Cambodian Man Accusing Him of Spying [as he walked near a Thai military base; according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, he might be released after there was investigation and a request for his release by Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5278, 17.8.2010

  • A Vietnamese General [Le Van Dung] Visits Cambodia to Consolidate the Military Cooperation between the Two Countries
  • Six People Were Killed and Ten Others Were Slightly Injured in Traffic Accidents [in Phnom Penh and Preah Vihear, on 15 August 2010]
  • The Club of Cambodia Journalists Reacted against the Detention of a Kampuchea Thmey Journalist [as he was detained just for a minor traffic accident; the Club of Cambodian Journalists expressed concern, and considers it as a violation of human rights, protected by the Constitution of Cambodia]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Using Computers: Upholding Rights and Freedoms while Fighting Crime – Sunday, 18.7.2010

Posted on 21 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

The Ministry of Defense hopes that the use of computers will help better to cut down the names of ‘ghost soldiers’ from the salary lists of the military. This was expressed by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, who said that the present census of all soldiers will be more accurate and thorough this year than in previous years. “It is an annual census to find out the real number of soldiers and of the children of those soldiers, and to cut out the names of soldiers who have retired or who died, or are not present anymore.” There are some traditional elements in this process, even surprising ones – if one assumes that soldiers would be known, present, and listed at their command posts: “All soldiers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are required to show up at their command posts. The soldiers will there be asked to identify themselves by showing themselves and their ID numbers, as well as to specify the number of children they have at present in the lists… the names of soldiers who do not show up will be deleted from the salary lists of the Ministry of Defense.”

Considering the results of a similar exercise in 2008, where – according to Mr. Cheam Yeap, a member of the National Assembly from the Cambodian People’s Party – the government found 10,000 ghost soldiers and 10,000 ghost police, for whom salaries were regularly paid out (to whom?), the new findings might again bring considerable savings to the national budget.
Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat added that there is confidence that this year, the data will be accurate, because of the use of a computer system to store all documents.

The newly created Anti-Corruption Unit of the government will start with to collect about 100,000 declarations of assets, and this process is to be implemented before November 2010, “to facilitate a quick enforcement of the law.” Though the Anti-Corruption Unit is to keep all these documents, it has not been announced how this is going to happen practically. Even trusting the capacities of computer systems, it will be difficult to receive and file more than 1,000 asset declarations per day during the remaining days before November.

But the past week brought also a different reminder about the power of computer systems: Cambodian authorities began creating legislation against cyber crimes. “A workshop about the creation of legislation against cyber crimes was held on 13 July 2010 at the Council of Ministers, and government officials, officials of national and international organizations, and representatives of Internet Service Providers, of telecom companies, of technology companies, of publication institutions, and of other relevant fields participated in the workshop… The advancement of technology is a double-edged sword. It can make many things easier and provides abundant benefits for quick development. But it also creates opportunities for criminals to use it to commit various offenses.” This double reality was pointed out: that by now communication technology plays an ever growing role in society – but on the other hand, Cambodia is also experiencing similar problems and threat as they happen in other countries also, which can be a threat for security, economy, and the general and political life of a society.

This Cambodian workshop was held also to consider how other countries are dealing with this new world wide problem. The head of the Economic Crime Division of the Council of Europe, Mr. Alexander Seger, referred to the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime of 2001, which had been developed during four years before it was presented to the member states of the Council of Europe, but which is also open for other states to sign and to access, so that among the 47 countries which signed it, there are also non-European countries: Canada, Japan, South Africa, and the United States of America.

These preparatory efforts in Cambodia are considering the same range of criminal activities which happen also in other countries around the globe. “Cambodia has already experienced many problems that allow cyber criminals to commit offenses using such technology. There are many cases where all must pay attention, to prevent cheating on the Internet, to receive the inheritance from someone illegally, not to respond to electronic messages asking for passwords, or messages threatening someone, stealing of passwords, and the distribution of child pornography into computer systems, or the sending of spam mails.”

What is remarkable is the fact that the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime does not only point to the threats which can come from criminal use of the Internet, and to the need to protect society from them. Included in this document of 28 pages is also a warning that the need for criminal prosecution shall not violate fundamental rights of the citizens to be protected:

The member States of the Council of Europe and the other States signatory hereto,… Convinced of the need to pursue, as a matter of priority, a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cyber crime, inter alia, by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international co-operation;…

Mindful of the need to ensure a proper balance between the interests of law enforcement and respect for fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1950 Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the 1966 United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other applicable international human rights treaties, which reaffirm the right of everyone to hold opinions without interference, as well as the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, and the rights concerning the respect for privacy;

Mindful also of the right to the protection of personal data, as conferred, for example, by the 1981 Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data;…

Have agreed as follows:

Each Party shall adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish as criminal offenses under its domestic law, when committed intentionally…

followed by chapters on Illegal access, Illegal interception, Data and System interference, Misuse of devices, Computer-related forgery and fraud, Offenses related to child pornography and to infringements of copyright, etc.

When representatives of governments, of the business community, and of civil society – according to the multi-stakeholder principle introduced by the United Nations for dealing with questions of the present Information Society – met in June for an Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum in Hong Kong, the issue of cyber security was also high on the agenda. While there was an emphasis on legal measures to assure the security and stability of the Internet, and on technical facilities to implement such controls, a group of civil society representatives from Southeast Asia made their common concern public in a 2010 Southeast Asia Civil Society Declaration on Internet Governance.

This Southeast Asian reflection starts with a references to the UN Summits for the Information Society of 2003 and 2005, especially with their Declaration of Principles, which the representatives of governments from around the globe had voted upon:

We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled in Geneva from 10-12 December 2003 for the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, declare our common desire and commitment to build a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Building on this guideline, which had led to the setting up of the Internet Governance Forums, this civil society declaration says among others in a longer text:

Key Observations of the Asia Pacific regional Internet Governance Forum

In response to the first Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum Roundtable in Hong Kong on 15-16 June 2010, we, netizens, journalists, bloggers, IT practitioners and nongovernmental representatives from across Southeast Asia, offer the following observations from the Roundtable:

Critical issues of Internet governance in Asia should guide future discussions on Internet governance policy:

Openness

Open access to information is the right of every individual, a right that serves as a fundamental venue for one’s knowledge- and capacity-building. Access to information ultimately helps foster creativity and innovation, thus promoting sustainable human and economic development. Openness is key to a democratic and open society. Restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression online, such as state censorship which blocks Internet intermediaries, is one of the threats to open societies. Intimidation and state censorship facilitate self-censorship, a hazardous social phenomenon that further undermines democracy and openness.

Access

The Internet is for everyone; it is a public good. Yet a Digital Divide between those countries and communities with Internet access and those without persists, and has not been sufficiently addressed in discussions on Internet governance. Proceedings at the Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum indicated a higher priority must be placed on addressing not only the global digital divide, but also regional and national ones. While Singapore enjoys high Internet access rates (70% penetration), countries like Burma and Cambodia are at the other end of the spectrum (0.22% and 0.51% penetration, respectively), ranked the lowest of 200 countries studied in the World Bank.

Internet access is fundamental for progress. Various factors, such as political, economic and social development, poverty levels, and technological infrastructure affect whether and how often people can access the Internet. Internationally coordinated efforts must be made to address domestic policies that contribute to the digital divide in Southeast Asia and find solutions to bridge the gap.

Cyber Security

Definition of cyber security must include elements that address the right to privacy and to civil and political freedom.

An individual’s right over his/her own privacy, including personal data and information, must not be sacrificed…

Today’s information society connects personal IT devices directly to the outside world, no longer storing personal data on a single server. Given the involvement of the government and businesses (especially state-owned enterprises) in running such technologies, surveillance and identity theft remain a constant threat against Internet users.

In this regard, any national security policy must not deviate from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all international human rights covenants to which states are parties…

The references of the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime and of the Southeast Asia Civil Society Declaration on Internet Governance to human rights and freedoms, not only threatened by criminal action, but also by efforts to impose extensive control, are important reminders that security must be human security.

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Cambodia Is Side-Tracking in Implementing the Anti-Torture Convention – Monday, 28.6.2010

Posted on 3 July 2010. Filed under: Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

“The international community celebrates the 23rd anniversary of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Cambodia became a member of this convention in 1992.

“By now, it has been 20 years that Cambodia has become a member of the Convention Against Torture of the United Nations. Human rights group noticed that among the 146 members, Cambodia has achieved little improvement in implementing the Convention. In addition, Cambodia seemingly continues to hide torture against persons who have not been found guilty. Sometimes, torture against suspects became a habit.

“During the international anniversary commemoration, civil society organizations expressed strong concern over the violation of the Convention. Moreover, no thorough investigations have been conducted over torture and mistreatments against suspects who had not been found guilty but had been arrested. Some cases of torture against a person were extreme. In some cases, there was just a suspicion, but law enforcement officials acted beyond the law. That means law violations seem to have been grave, and victims often did not dare to react. Additionally, there was not much effort to seek legal intervention. Therefore, some law enforcement officials often committed wrongdoings.

“According to a statement by Cambodian civil society organizations, in 2007, Cambodia ratified the additional Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and this was seen as a positive step where Cambodia took up more obligations to create an independent protection mechanism to observe all prisons, so as to prevent the use of torture in Cambodia. But things did not go in line with the situation of the world, as it was seen that there were still cases where the agreements entered were neglected in the implementation, not following international laws.

“Civil society organizations called on the Royal Government of Cambodia to fully cooperate with the Committee Against Torture of the United Nations that will come to conduct a second assessment in Cambodia, in November 2010, on the measures taken to ensure effectively following obligations according to the UN Convention Against Torture, and to fully comply with the final observations of the Committee Against Torture. This is a reminder by civil society organizations for the Cambodian government to check what it agreed to carry out, when it became a member of the UN Convention Against Torture, and when it ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture in 2007.

“Torture was not only used against the accused, but also against some suspects to extort information from them. These are the results from the culture of impunity spreading in Cambodia at present, leading to extending of the application of torture against the accused and the suspects. Obviously, the use of ‘citizen courts’ (where citizens act directly, like in some cases where a mob lynched suspects and perpetrators), to sentence robbers is a sign also encouraging the spread of torture in prisons. Many people have been released from prison, but their behavior did not change, as prisons are not places that educate them to walk on the right way. In contrast, prisons are places where torture is used to extracy answers for the authorities. Thus, Cambodia is viewed as not strictly taking up what it had agreed to practice when it became a member of the Convention Against Torture.

“This is a disappointment for civil society, as there are many problems in prisons, especially the use of torture by the authorities during interrogations. Torture is an important topic, because in prisons there are many issues such as corruption and torture. Hopefully, as member of the Convention Against Torture for almost 20 years, Cambodia will make positive changes over some secret happenings in prisons, otherwise crimes cannot be cut down, since those released from prisons continue to cause fear to the society.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3917, 28.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 28 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #515, 27-28.6.2010

  • The Person Who Filmed Beautiful Girls Bathing in Holy Water is a Monk of the Srah Chak Pagoda [after a video clip leaked of nude women bathing in holy water, police investigated and found out that a Srah Chak Pagoda monk had hidden a camera to film them; he was arrested and defrocked – Phnom Penh]
  • The Wife of the Spokesperson of the US Embassy [Mr. John Johnson] Suffered Serious Injuries after a Car Accident [in Sihanoukville]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2286, 27-28.6.2010

  • The UN Special Rapporteur Surya Subedi Apologized to the Cambodian Prime Minister [for using the word “disappointed” as he could not meet with Mr. Hun Sen]
  • [The head of the National Authority for Combating Drugs] His Excellency Ke Kim Yan Asked Common Citizens to Be Brave to Report Real Information to the National Authority for Combating Drugs or Directly to Him If They Are Afraid that There Is Collusion [between police and drug smugglers]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #692, 27-28.6.2010

  • [The executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation] Thach Ngok Thach Said that Khmer Kampuchea Krom People Are Disappointed when Samdech Euv [the former King] Did Not Raise the Case of Yuon [Vietnamese] Mistreatments [of Khmer Kampuchea Krom people]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6993, 28.6.2010

  • More Than 200 Pieces of Luxury Grade Wood Were Seized [they had been gathered by wood traders to export them to Vietnam [no info about any punishment of the wood traders – Ratanakiri]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3917, 28.6.2010

  • Cambodia Is Side-Tracking in Implementing the UN Convention Against Torture

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5235, 27-28.6.2010

  • Human Rights Activists Called on the Cambodian Government to Implement the UN Convention Against Torture
  • The Construction of a Bridge of 2,215 meters at Neak Loeung [across the Mekong River in Prey Veng] Will Start at the End of 2010 [under grant aid from Japan]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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A Senior Official of the Government Rejects the Summons to Appear at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Thursday, 17.6.2010

Posted on 17 June 2010. Filed under: Week 669 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 669

“Phnom Penh: The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, rejected a warrant from a co-investigating judge of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Marcel Lemonde, who called some high ranking officials of the Royal Government to appear as witnesses. The rejection was made public on 15 June 2010 during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

“Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong said that he had already received the warrant from a co-investigating judge requesting him to be a witness. He added that, as Mr. Marcel Lemonde knows well, he was a prisoner, but he will not respond to the summons for legal reasons. According to the agreement between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations, a summons should have two signatures, both from one Khmer and from one foreign co-investigating judge.

Note:

Repeated from The Mirror of 10.6.2010 to explain that there had been two signatures, but one got crossed out later:

Disagreement among Co-Investigating Judges at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

The Cambodia Daily added on 10 June 2010 that Mr. Marcel Lemonde stated that the letter to start further investigations waited for three weeks to be signed. Then Mr. You Bonleng signed it.

The Cambodia Daily then quotes Mr. You Bonmleng’s letter from 8 June 2010:

  • “Throughout the process of reflection on your proposal and the ultimatum you imposed on me, I had thought that it seemed time to take action as part of cases 003 and 004; I therefore signed the draft rogatory letters on Friday, 4 June 2010.
  • However, upon more attentive and deeper consideration of the question, I think that it is not yet opportune to take action in cases 003 and 004.
  • So I permit myself to return to you the draft rogatory letters containing your signature, mine being crossed out, and we shall contemplate discussion on any measures concerning cases 003 and 004 in the month of September 2010.”

“Mr. Hor Namhong added, ‘Mr. Marcel Lemonde is a person from the legal field, but he himself does not respect the law as he signed this document alone.’ Therefore, as a member of the Royal Government that negotiated with the United Nations and signed the agreement between the government and the United Nations about the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, he cannot breach the agreement to follow Mr. Marcel Lemonde.

“Recently, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal had issued a warrant to invite leaders of the government to be witnesses in order to put further burden on the five former Khmer Rouge leaders in detention at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6984, 17.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 17 June 2010

Areyathor, Vol.17, #1444, 17-18.6.2010

  • A Military Police Officer Was Fatally Shot by an Unknown Person in Front of the Reatrei Singapore Restaurant [Phnom Penh]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #506, 17.6.2010

  • [UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia] Surya Subedi Praised Cambodia over [the efforts to conduct] Judicial Reform

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2277, 17.6.2010

  • [The President of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Chea Mony Announced there Will Be a Three Days Demonstration from 13 to 15 July [to ask for an increase of workers’ salaries, and to demand that the owner of the TACFAT garment factor has to obey the labor law]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #683, 17.6.2010

  • The Declaration of Property through Closed and Sealed Letters Might Be a Play of the Ruling Party [all members of the newly created National Anti-Corruption Council are required to declare their property]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6984, 17.6.2010

  • A Senior Official of the Government Rejects the Summons to Appear at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • Two Men Were Killed by Lightnings in Kompong Cham and Kompong Thom within the Same Half Hour

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #195, 17.6.2010

  • This Year the Number of People Killed by Lightning Dropped [during 5 months, there were 53 deaths, compared to the same period in 2009, when there were 73 deaths]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5226, 17.6.2010

  • Germany Promised to Grant More Aid [Euro 400,000, approx. US$500,000 to the Victims’ Unit of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] to Encourage the Participation by More Victims in the Hearing of Khmer Rouge Leaders
  • Japanese Businesspeople and Investors Come to Study Investment Possibilities in Cambodia

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About the Clear Separation of Functions and Responsibilities – Sunday, 30.5.2010

Posted on 1 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

According to the Preamble of the Constitution, the Kingdom of Cambodia is a multi-party liberal democracy. That different people make different observations and have different information and different opinions is natural – that these can also be expressed and discussed openly is legal under such a constitution, unless there is any criminal intent involved.

When putting the pieces for the Mirror together day by day, we encounter often confrontative news items which could be resolved easily by an open, mutual, clarifying consultation about facts and structural arrangements, which might overcome personal positions and feelings.

During the past week, we carried a report about a tragic event in India: “160 People Were Killed in a Plane Crash in India.” But this is not just a tragedy – it is necessary to investigate what led to this problem, in order to avoid similar events to happen in future. Naturally, questions about safety procedures have to be clarified – and there were some press reports claiming that the accident was the result of a soft handling of air safety regulations. When this discussion started, the management of Air India claimed to make a thorough investigation by themselves – and prohibited its employees to discuss related questions with the press. This resulted in further protests: “The striking employees were upset over the management’s gag order prohibiting some of its leaders to speak out in public on the Mangalore crash.”

In the meantime, the Indian government has set up a Court of Inquiry headed by a former high court judge, and a Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council with persons with a background in aviation, and experts in engineering and operations. They will conduct the inquiry, not Air India. And the strike was called off.

Does this mean that the Indian government does not trust the management of Air India? Maybe or maybe not – the fundamentally important point is that Operations and Safety are to be handled by two separate, independent bodies, which have to cooperate mutually.

Some months ago, I had an experience in Malaysia where this separation obviously works. – We were about 250 passengers, waiting to board a long distance night flight. But instead of calling us to board the plane, we were told that the flight is canceled, buses would transport us to different hotels and collect us again in the morning. So it happened – connections lost and schedules not met. The explanation: When the plane was prepared for departure, the air safety controller discovered that the pilot had landed only 11 hours ago – but no pilot is allowed to fly again, if not 12 hours passed between two flights. Malaysia Airlines had to accept this ruling from the air safety institution, though it meant a disruption of many schedules and a considerable economic loss. The airline had assigned the pilot – “just one hour too short should be OK” – but the independent safety supervisor rejected this.

Not good personal relations of different actors, and group or institutional loyalties assure smooth an safe procedures, but clearly defined, different institutions – which all have to refer to objectively defined rules. And these rules have to be kept and followed.

When Mr. Om Yentieng was recently appointed as head of the newly created Anti-Corruption Unit, it was reported that some persons from the opposition parties raised critical questions about him – this is a case where different people may have different opinions. But we did not see any critical questions raised against the fact the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit is also automatically a member of the Anti-Corruption Council, the body that is supervising the Anti-Corruption Unit. This is an objectively serious problem, whoever the person is. Everybody has to act responsibly in public offices – but this does not mean to be just responsible to oneself. Responsibility implies that one has to answer what is right and what is wrong to another institution. Where this is not structurally institutionalized, there is the danger that a conflict of interest may lead to wrong results.

Malaysian Airlines had the well founded interest not to disrupt its intercontinental schedule, and not to organize and pay for 250 hotel guests. But the air safety agency hand a different, also well founded interest: that the strict working schedules of pilots have to be kept.

When the US Securities and Exchange Commission [“The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation”] started to investigate the Australian mining company BHP Billiton, and links to the US$2.5 million which had been paid as tea money to “Cambodia,” this naturally triggered a public interest where and under whose authorities and according to which rules this money was used. Then an amount of US$20 million from the French oil company Total was added to the surprises, and additional millions from an Indonesian company.

Then allegations surfaced that the ban on sand export, imposed by the government, was not applied, and sand exports to Singapore continued.

Around the time when different partial answers related to payments were reported in the press (which could not be reconciled with each other) the Prime Minister tasked the Senior Ministers Sok An and Keat Chhon to present a consolidated answer to the National Assembly; then also the Ambassador of Cambodia in London offered to publicly discuss and refute such allegations, raised by the British NGO Global Witness.

But on 21 May 2010, the Cambodian Embassy in London withdrew the offer in a letter from which we quote:

On the issue you raised, I am pleased to advise that His Excellency Hor Nambora is no longer prepared
to enter into a public debate with Global Witness.

First, we believe it would be inappropriate to share a platform with representatives of your organisation
since it would appear you have a politically-motivated and hidden agenda to discredit the legitimately-
elected Government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Second, it seems clear that your group is starting to lose credibility and respect within the international
community, not least for the irresponsible and devious way in which you operate…

In short, as your group, leadership and campaigners certainly suffered from epilepsy and other mental disabilities, it would be more prudent for any Cambodian representatives or officials, not to take part in the debate.

Epilepsy is disease defined in medical terms as “a disorder of the central nervous system characterized by loss of consciousness and convulsions” – it is surprising that the Cambodian embassy claims to have such medical data on the staff of Global Witness, quite apart form the whole style of this official letter.

We do also not have any information that Global Witness “is starting to lose credibility and respect within the international community.” – Global Witness shares the list of their supporters publicly:

Trusts and foundations

  • Adessium Foundation
  • The Blue Moon Fund
  • The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
  • The DOEN Foundation
  • The Fledgling Fund
  • The Ford Foundation
  • The Jocarno Fund
  • The Joffe Charitable Trust
  • Foundation Open Society Institute (Zug)
  • The David and Elaine Potter Foundation
  • The RH Southern Trust
  • The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund
  • The Roddick Foundation
  • The Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation
  • The Sigrid Rausing Trust
  • The Staples Trust
  • The Wallace Global Fund

Development organisations

  • Concern Worldwide
  • Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (Hivos)
  • Oxfam Novib
  • Trocaire

Governments

  • Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • DFID – Department for International Development (UK)
  • The European Commission
  • Irish Aid – Irish Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (Sida)
  • Norad

To accuse Global Witness leadership of “epilepsy and other mental disabilities” is probably not making an impression on the supporters of the world wide activities of Global Witness. It will rather bring embarrassing questions, asking to explain how an embassy of the Kingdom of Cambodia can act in such a non-professional way.

In Cambodia today, to make such a public statement, might this lead to a court case for disinformation and defamation.

Again: this is not first of all a question about the person who wrote this letter. It is a question in which way, in the diplomatic service where such a letter was written, responsibility is exercised – not only personally by oneself and for oneself – but in a way that one institution, or one part of the institution, has to submit itself to another institution, to clarify what is acceptable, and what is not, for the Kingdom of Cambodia.

During the week, the question has also been raised, whether somebody from outside tries “to teach” something to Cambodia. This may happen occasionally, but it is not as important as that the field, as described by the Constitution, is kept open to exercise the freedoms of expression and opinion. The article about Mr. Vann Molyvann, who has shaped the image of Phnom Penh and some other places in the contry, is such an example. In spite of his historical role and his achievements, he felt compelled to resign, when his professional judgment as an architect and as a long term protector of Khmer traditional culture was overruled for shot term economic gain. To listen to him is worth while. Not only because this previous warnings about the over-use of ground water in the Angkor area have now – finally – been seen as a real problem which may lead to the collapse of some of the old temples – similar to the destruction of more modern, but historical buildings in Phnom Penh and other cities, that are being destroyed and replaced by modern business buildings, for economic gain.

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Cambodia Rejected Report of Amnesty International – Friday, 28.5.2010

Posted on 29 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“A government official rejected a report of Amnesty International on 27 May 2010. Amnesty International released its Amnesty International Report 2010 on human rights, saying that forced evictions affect the livelihood of thousands of families.

“The report mentions one case of the Group 78 in the Tonle Basak commune, Phnom Penh, and another case in the Chi Kraeng district, Siem Reap, where security forces used weapons to shoot at protesters injuring them. In conclusion, regarding forced evictions, Amnesty International wrote that there were at least 26 such cases, where 27,000 people, mostly the poor, were evicted.

“The report continues to say that police had arrested 149 people protesting against land grabbing. It says, ‘The rich and powerful continued to abuse the criminal justice system to silence people protesting against evictions and land grabs.’

“The spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, blamed the writers of the report that they did not study the actual situation in Cambodia before they started writing the report. Mr. Tith Sothea commented, ‘This group just want to control Cambodia, but does not help Cambodia with anything. They just attack the Cambodian government without any basis.’

“Amnesty International claims that they had sent their delegations to Cambodia several times; they wrote in this report that accusations against perpetrators raping women and girls were not always made, due to the weakness of the implementation of anti-corruption legislation by the courts and the frequent use of monetary arrangements outside of the court system [without criminal investigations and convictions]. The report adds that such solutions are normally made by negotiations between law enforcement officials and victims, to make the victims withdraw their complaints. Quoting different publication, the report noticed that the number of cases of rape of women and girls in general, as well as violence against women sex workers, keeps increasing. And these cases happen to victims who are younger and younger [many are below the age of 10].” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5209, 28.5.2010

Note:

In order to facilitate the evaluation of the controversial Amnesty International Report 2010, we select here the section of the Cambodia Country Report.

Amnesty International Report 2010

Amnesty International Report 2010

Forced evictions continued to affect thousands of families across the country, predominantly people living in poverty. Activists from communities affected by forced evictions and other land confiscations mobilized to join forces in protests and appeals to the authorities. A wave of legal actions against housing rights defenders, journalists and other critical voices stifled freedom of expression. The first trial to address past Khmer Rouge atrocities took place. The defendant, Duch, pleaded guilty, but later asked to be acquitted.

Background

At least 45,000 garment factory workers lost their jobs as a result of the global economic crisis and a number of companies reduced salaries. Surveys indicated growing mass youth unemployment as some 300,000 young people faced joblessness after completing their high school and bachelor degrees. For the first time, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered Cambodia’s state report, which the authorities had delayed submitting for 14 years. The Committee identified serious shortcomings in the implementation of a number of treaty obligations, including those relating to the judicial system, housing, and gender inequalities. Cambodia’s human rights record was reviewed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in December.

Forced evictions

Forced evictions continued to affect the lives of thousands of Cambodians. At least 26 forced evictions displaced around 27,000 people, the vast majority from communities living in poverty. In July, a number of international donors called for an end to forced evictions “until a fair and transparent mechanism for resolving land disputes is in place and a comprehensive resettlement policy” is established.

On 16/17 July 2009, security forces forcibly evicted Group 78, a community group in Phnom Penh, after a deeply flawed legal process. The last 60 families had no choice but to dismantle their houses and accept compensation that prevented them from living near their former homes and workplaces. Most of the families were relocated outside the city with few work prospects.

After civil society criticism, the World Bank attempted to strengthen safeguards in a multi-donor supported Land Management and Administration Project to protect security of tenure for people in urban slums and other vulnerable areas. In early September, the government responded by terminating its contract with the Bank.

Human rights defenders

The rich and powerful continued to abuse the criminal justice system to silence people protesting against evictions and land grabs. Police arrested at least 149 activists for their peaceful defense of the right to housing.

On 22 March 2009, security forces shot at unarmed villagers in Siem Reap province, injuring at least four people. The villagers, from Chikreng district, were protesting against the loss of farmland that had come under dispute. By the end of the year, no authority had investigated the shooting, but police had arrested at least 12 of the villagers, two of whom were subsequently convicted of robbery for attempting to harvest their rice on the disputed land. Seven were acquitted but remained in arbitrary detention pending a prosecutorial appeal.

Informal representatives from communities in most provinces increasingly formed grassroots networks,
jointly voicing concerns over forced evictions and intimidation.

International justice

In March, the historic first hearing of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC, Khmer Rouge Tribunal) took place with the trial of Kaing Guek Eav (known as Duch). Duch was commander of the notorious security prison S-21. During the 72-day hearing, survivors and victims of Khmer Rouge atrocities heard for the first time evidence against “those most responsible.” Duch admitted responsibility for crimes committed at S-21, including killing about 15,000 people.

The trial of four senior Khmer Rouge leaders was in preparation, and the International Co-Prosecutor submitted requests to open investigations into an additional five suspects. The Cambodian government spoke out against additional investigations saying they could lead to unrest, apparently in an attempt to exert influence over the tribunal.

In July, co-investigating judges decided to allow “confessions” obtained by torture as evidence in the case of Ieng Thirith. This breached the “exclusionary rule” in Article 15 of the UN Convention against Torture which binds the ECCC.

Freedom of expression –

A series of prosecutions of people who criticized government policies had a stifling effect on freedom of expression.

Courts sentenced newspaper editor Hang Chakra, and the director of an NGO, both affiliated to the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), to prison terms for peacefully expressing views.

The Phnom Penh Court convicted Mu Sochua, Secretary-General of the SRP, of defamation for filing a complaint – also for defamation – against the Prime Minister. She had no legal counsel because her lawyer had withdrawn from the case after receiving threats of legal action for speaking about the case at a press conference. Mu Sochua received a non-custodial sentence.

On 10 July 2009, one of the few remaining opposition-affiliated daily newspapers, Moneaksekar Khmer (Khmer Conscience), stopped publishing. The editor, Dam Sith, issued a public apology for articles, over which the government had requested a criminal investigation for “incitement.”

By the end of the year, police had made no progress on the investigation into the murder of Moneaksekar Khmer reporter Khim Sambor. He had been killed by unknown assailants during the July 2008 elections.

Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

On 12 October 2009, the National Assembly passed the new Penal Code. This retained defamation as a criminal offense. Opposition parliamentarians and civil society groups criticized a new Law on non-violent demonstrations, passed by the National Assembly in October. Authorities routinely denied permission for demonstrations and the law, if adopted, risked codifying such restrictions.

Violence against women and girls

Prosecution of rapists remained rare, due to poor law enforcement, corruption in the courts and widespread use of out-of-court financial settlements. Settlements were typically arranged by law enforcement officials and stipulated that the victim withdraw any criminal complaint. Reports indicated that rapes of women and girls, including sex workers, continued to increase, with the age of victims falling.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Cambodia in March/May, September and October/December.
  • Cambodia: Urban development or relocating slums? (ASA 23/002/2009)
  • Cambodia: After 30 years Khmer Rouge crimes on trial (ASA 23/003/2009)
  • Cambodia: Briefing for the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: 42nd session, May 2009 (ASA 23/004/2009)
  • Cambodia: Borei Keila – Lives at risk (ASA 23/008/2009)

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 28 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #489, 28.5.2010

  • The Government Rejected the Criticism [by the Sam Rainsy Party] over the Setting of Border Markers in Takeo [government official said that the claim by the Sam Rainsy Party that the Border Marker 270 was put in a rice field of a Cambodian farmer is only based on the farmer’s claim]
  • A Group of Ten Robbers Was Arrested [in Kompong Speu]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2260, 28.5.2010

  • UNDP: Cambodia Has the Opportunity to Reduce Poverty and to Boost Development through Income from the Mineral Sector

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #667, 28.5.2010

  • Parliamentarians from the Cambodian People’s Party Voted to Add More Members to the Council of Ministers [“the cabinet”], Which Makes this Institution to Have Too Many Members

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6967, 28.5.2010

  • The Owner of the Phnom Yat Cloth Shop Was Threatened at Gun Point by a General [the victim’s family filed a complaint against the general – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3819, 28.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: We Do Not Support the Nomination of More Government Members, Which Is Unnecessary, as Cambodia Is Poor

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #181, 28.5.2010

  • The National Assembly Voted to Nominate More Officials, as Requested by the Cambodian Government [one was appointed at the Prime Minister’s office, and ten others as secretaries of state at various ministries]
  • A New Elevated Road Will Be Constructed in the Disputed Boeng Kak Development Area

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5209, 28.5.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected Report of Amnesty International
  • The Opposition Party Asked for a Postponement of the Setting of Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Posts in Takeo [as Border Post 270 was put in a rice field of Khmer farmer]
  • Kangwon Province of the Republic of Korea Donated Four Firefighter Trucks and Twelve Ambulances to Siem Reap

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Most of the Important Positions at International Border Crossings Are Not Reassigned, not Following a Sub-Decree – Friday, 21.5.2010

Posted on 22 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: Important positions of some officials – such as police, customs, and CamControl – at border crossings for international travelers and at border crossings for local travel are, at present, not reassigned properly, contrary to the terms that are clearly set by the Royal Government in a sub-decree.

“Sub-Decree 64, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2001, that consists of 13 chapters and 39 articles, clearly speaks about the structure for the administration, and the roles and terms of the officials that must be followed.

“According to Chapter 8, about the terms in Article 29, the head of border crossings for international travelers, and the officers at border crossings for local travel, the heads of sea ports, and the heads of other expert authorities must be reshuffled every two years. According to Article 30, officials stationed at border crossings for international travelers, and at other border crossings, will be reshuffled every year.

“But in reality, those officials collude with each other systematically, and important officials are not reshuffled according the terms as clearly stated in the Sub-Decree of the Royal Government. On the contrary, most officials holding important positions, such as in the police, or as tax and custom officers at international border crossings, and at other border crossing for local traffic, stay in their lucrative positions more than five years, and some even up to eight years, and the relevant ministries do not reassign them. In addition, the number of ‘mixed officials’ [police, tax officials, CamControl, and local authorities] at each international border crossing point is too high.

“It is seen that when related ministries and institutions do not implement the terms for the officials working at international and other border crossings for relevant ministries for years, without being reassigned, those officials use their positions to commit all kinds of corruption. They commit dishonest activities for personal gain and seek money for bribing the higher levels, so that they can stay in their positions longer, which leads to the loss of income for the state.

“In Chapter 11 of the Sub-Decree about penalties, Article 35 clearly states that officials who take the opportunity to use their positions and power to arbitrarily create difficulties for travelers, for for owners of vehicles, and relate to all types of goods crossing the border, or who violate their duties, will be convicted according to the law. However, in reality, none of them has been punished. Officials working at the same border crossing for several years usually make the citizens, and especially big traders feel afraid of them, as they think that officials who can stay at their posts for many years are not normal cases: they must have the backing of some high ranking officials. This allows those officials to do whatever they want.

“The Sub-Decree also established a monitoring procedure, with a representatives from the Council of Ministers as the head, and representatives from other ministries and institutions, and from the related municipalities, according to a notification from a Minister of the Council of Ministers, to monitor the activities and to checking the related offices, in order to report to the head of the government.

“But the mechanism seems ineffective for the day-to-day activities at international and other border crossings. Some police, customs, and CamCotrol officials are not reshuffled as required according to the sub-decree. Those officials use money collected at the border crossings to control the flow of document themselves. Some do this directly with the departments and their staff at each ministry. Others do it directly through the Customs Office, so that they can hold their positions at border crossings for years.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen warned on 6 April 2010 during the closing convention of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, that even if they fail to reshuffle, officials will be punished according to their terms that seem to allow those officials to commit corruption systematically as they know the place well.

“A parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, told reporters that through direct monitoring at some international border crossings, such as the Poipet border crossing, the international seaport in Sihanoukville, and the Smach international border crossing in Komopong Cham, there are many organizational structures of administration, and more than 1,000 coalition personnel involved, including police, military, and CamControl officials, and local authorities.

“Mr. Cheam Yeap added that the collection of state income is destroyed by corruption, committed by a small number of people working at those border crossing points. If an official takes, personally, just Baht 5 or Riel 1,000 or Riel 500 to buy something to eat, pretty much money is lost. They cause difficulties for the trading of citizens and of national and international investors. He suggested that the number of those officials should be reduced by half in order that much benefit can be contributed to Cambodia.

“Therefore, related ministries must check these unclear points, because the collusion not to reshuffle important positions of officials at international and other border crossings, and the too high number of officials, seriously violates the Sub-Decree signed by the head of the Royal Government.

“Many officials who do not have high ranking officials backing them and have no money to bribe higher levels, complained that they could not stay at good posts like others, because those working at such good posts are not reshuffled as before, but there are biddings for positions. This is a bad model for law enforcement which requires reforms.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5203, 21.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 21 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #483, 21.5.2010

  • The Phanpimex Company Destroyed a State Electricity Cabin to Claim Land [Phnom Penh]
  • The Garment Sector Creates Employment for More Than 300,000 Workers [in Cambodia, despite of the global economic crisis]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2254, 21.5.2010

  • Robbers Armed with AK Rifles Robbed a Village Chief in Banon District, Battambang [taking away some money and jewelries]
  • Opportunists Committed Looting and Robberies and Burnt Down [about 35] Buildings in Bangkok

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #769, 21.5.2010

  • The Great Heroic King [the former King] Should Raise the Restricted Freedom and Human Rights Issues of Kampuchea Krom People in His Meetings with Yuon [Vietnamese] Leaders during His Visit to Yuon [Vietnam – no date of his visit is specified]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #661, 21.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson] Yim Sovann: Mr. Om Yentieng Has Made No Achievements in Combating Corruption [recently, Mr. Om Yentieng was nominated head of the Anti-Corruption Unit – he will be automatically also a member of the Anti-Corruption Council, the body that is supervising the Anti-Corruption Unit; it seems that this construction implies that the head of the Unit is also supervising himself]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6961, 21.5.2010

  • More Than 30 Buildings Were Burnt Down in Bangkok – the International Community [the European Union and the United States of America] Condemned the Violent Suppression, but Were also Surprised with the Violence of the Demonstrators
  • In a Raid on a Drug Site in Sihanoukville, Sixteen People Were Arrested [for drug smuggling]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3885, 21.5.2010

  • The Opposition Party Calls the Prohibition to Visit [two] Farmers Being Jailed [for removing border markers in Svay Rieng] a Breach of the Rights of Parliamentarians

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #176, 21.5.2010

  • The Cambodian People’s Party Will Create Quick Reaction Youth Teams Countrywide [before the elections in 2012 and 2013]
  • The Nomination of Mr. Om Yentieng [a senior advisor of the Prime Minister] Invites Criticism [he was appointed by Prime Minister Hun Sen as the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit – the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that Mr. Om Yentieng is not able to fight corruption as head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee of Cambodia under the Council of Ministers, and also, he might be influenced by Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5203, 21.5.2010

  • Most of the Important Positions at International Border Crossings Are Not Reassigned, not Following a Sub-Decree
  • Cambodia Loses US$45 Million Each Year due to the Import of Pigs from Thailand [about one million pigs are imported to Cambodia each year, affecting local pig raisers; according to the head of the Cambodian Macro, Small, Medium Enterprise Project [MSME] of USAID, Mr. Curtis Hundley]

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Report of the US Department of State Is in Line with the Actual Situation in Cambodia – Monday, 15.3.2010

Posted on 15 March 2010. Filed under: Week 656 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 656

“Recently, the US Department of State assessed the human rights situation in Cambodia for 2009, saying that Cambodia progressed in the prevention of human trafficking. But the United States of America expressed some concerns, such as about the restriction of the freedom of expression, the deportation of Uighurs to China, land disputes, and the growing corruption in Cambodia.

“The report on human rights for 2009 of the US Department of State noticed that Cambodia positively promoted the rights of the disabled, and made also efforts at the national level to protect victims of human trafficking that helps the most vulnerable people. Besides this, the authorities worked to reduce serious crimes – the number of murders declined, compared to 2008. The report continues to say that the United States of America is worried about the restriction of the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press by the Cambodian government, pointing to court cases related to defamation and disinformation.

“The report continues that the United States of America is worried about land disputes, forced evictions, and corruption that frequently happens in Cambodia, while the court systems remains weak. The report of the US Department of State is not welcomed by high ranking officials of the Cambodian government, and they accused it as not being based on thorough observations. However, officials of human rights organization recognized that the report reflects the actual situation, and what is mentioned in the report is true.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia said that the Cambodia government is settling those problems, including through the adoption of an anti-corruption law soon. But meanwhile, the president of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO], Ms. Pong Chhiv Kek [Dr. Kek Galabru], said that in general, the work to prevent the trafficking of women and children still faces some shortages, but the government tried to do it to some extent. The other three points that are unacceptable for the United States of America are real issues, because land disputes is also recognized by the government as a major issue. The claim by non-government organization officials testifies that the situation of human rights violations in Cambodia has not improved.

“It is remembered that in late 2009, the Cambodia government arrested 20 Uighurs and forcedly deported them to China, while they were applying for asylum from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Such action caused concerns from human rights groups, voicing the concern that those Uighurs might receive the death penalty in China. Due to this deportation, the Cambodian government was strongly criticized by many local and well-known international human rights organizations.

“At present, heavy human rights violations happen in Cambodia, not different from the concerns raised in the report of the US Department of State. Typically, like in a land dispute in Kompong Thom, the authorities ordered armed forces to evict citizens without any justification, to grab land for a Yuon [Vietnamese] company. When citizens protested to protect their land and their shelters, they were shot at like animals – an unacceptable human rights violation.

“In another case, even the freedom of expression of a parliamentarian, who had expressed his opinion to protect the territorial integrity of the country, was restricted. The opposition party president and parliamentarian from Kompong Cham, Mr. Sam Rainsy, was convicted by the Svay Rieng Court to serve two years in prison and was ordered to pay millions of Riel as a fine, because he uprooted border posts at the Khmer-Yuon border in the Samroang commune, Chantrea district, Svay Rieng, while two villagers who lost their rice fields, Mr. Prum Chea and Ms. Meas Srey, were jailed unjustly.

“After all, the report of the US Department of State regarding human rights issues in Cambodia complies with the actual situation, and officials of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s government cannot hide this. Therefore, all members of the international community and donors, especially the United States of America, should encourage the Cambodian government to respect human rights, as stated in the Constitution. That means the government should stop restrictions that violate the freedom of expression, and protect the right of living of citizens by completely stopping to use the word ‘development’ as an excuse to evict citizens from their land.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3832, 15.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 15 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #434, 14-15.3.2010

  • The Government Reacted against the US Human Rights Report That Overlooks the Efforts of Cambodia [to improve the human rights conditions]
  • US$41.5 Million for Investment Projects Were Approved in February 2010 [mostly focusing on investments in the garment sector and in agricultural product processing; in January 2010, the Council for the Development of Cambodia approved US$75 million]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2201, 14-15.3.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Informed the Public of a Temporary Relocation, in Order to Construct a New Court Building [it is relocated to the previous headquarters of the Ministry of Tourism in Tuol Svay Prey II, Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh]
  • The Republic of Korea Congratulates Cambodia after an Anti-Corruption Law Has Been Discussed and Adopted

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #744, 15.3.2010

  • Chinese Hydro-Electricity Dams Cause Drought and Environmental Destruction to the Mekong River – as [Thai] NGOs Inform the United Nations

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #626, 14-15.3.2010

  • Perpetrators Who Shot and Injured [three] Disabled People [guarding the land of the Vietnamese Tan Bien company] in Kompong Thom] Are Out of the Net of the Law, while Some Victims Do Not Dare to Return to Their Own Homes [as the authorities are seeking to arrest them because of their protests against their eviction from the land]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6908, 15.3.2010

  • Among 569 Poor Communities in Phnom Penh, for More Than 300 Their Problems Have Been Solved [through ‘development-in-place’ and through compensation – according to the municipality]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3832, 15.3.2010

  • Report of the US Department of State Is in Line with the Actual Situation in Cambodia

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #130, 15.3.2010

  • The Opposition Party President [Mr. Sam Rainsy] Was Formally Indicted at a Count for Faking Public Documents
  • Cambodia Spent US$59 Million on Electricity Bought from Thailand [about US$19 million] and Vietnam [about US$40 million] in 2009
  • More Than 1,000 Hectares of Conservation Forest Were Destroyed by Fire in Siem Reap, Pailin, and Kampot [because people slashed-and-burnt some places to claim farmland, which led to fire getting out of control]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5150, 14-15.3.2010

  • Nine Members of the European Parliament Will Visit Cambodia [from 18 to 20 March 2010, to study the political and economic situation in Cambodia]
  • France Will Help to Establish a Chemistry Laboratory for the Royal Academy of Cambodia [according to a meeting between the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, and the director of the National Scientific Research Center of France, Ms. Marie-Florence Grenier Loustalot; it might take two to three years]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1887, 15.3.2010

  • Citizens from 10 Villages in Amleang Commune, Kompong Speu, Are Struggling to Demand Their Land Back from a Company of [Senator and Oknha] Ly Yong Phat [who invests to grow sugarcane on this land]

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A Large Scale Raid Was Held to Stop the Selling of Military Materials at the Tuek Thla Market – Friday, 5.3.2010

Posted on 6 March 2010. Filed under: Week 654 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 654

“Phnom Penh: Hundreds of military police of the municipality, in collaboration with the Sen Sok district authorities and court officials, raided the Tuek Thla market at around 12:00 noon on 4 March 2010 and seized a lot of military materials, which had been displayed for sale. As a result, the authorities confiscated hundreds of military uniforms and other materials from ten stalls, and arrested some sellers of those materials to educate them.

“The operation was led by the Phnom Penh Military Police commander, Major General Ya Kim I, with the participation of the Sen Sok military police commander, the Sen Sok district governor, Mr. Khuong Sreng, and a Phnom Penh court official, Mr. Ek Chheng Huot.

“What the authorities confiscated most were military uniforms, and it is said that those uniforms had been sold by military generals to the traders; in some cases, the names of those who had provided them were still attached to the supplies of uniforms, which actually were to be distributed to soldiers at the Preah Vihear Temple.

“According to the authorities, there were not only military uniforms at the Tuek Thla market, but there were also many kinds of pistols and ammunition for pistols for sale. But they were not displayed openly for sale like the uniforms; they were sold and bought secretly.

“This was not the first raid at the Tuek Thla market to stop the selling of bullets and of police and military uniforms. There had been several raids before, but these activities could not be eliminated, as many heads of police units and military commanders do not distribute the materials to the fellow police and soldiers under their command, but keep them and sell them to traders. Therefore, the fellow personnel under their command lack uniforms and have to seek and buy these things by themselves. Thus, the sellers are not the ones to be blamed, because some heads of police units and military police commanders benefit personally by taking their troops’ belongings, and transport them by car to sell them to traders – everyone knows this problem.

“Besides some heads of police units and military commanders, who sell a large number of uniforms, it is also seen that some police, military police, and military personnel sold their uniforms there, as they have low and insufficient salaries. As for hammocks for the military, almost 90% of the soldiers do not get them from their leaders, but they can get their hammocks by buying them at the Tuek Thla market.

“In addition to uniforms, hammocks, and hats, about 90% of police and military police have to buy also their pistols themselves, because their leaders do not release them to them, as they are expensive, and the leaders can benefit by selling them secretly. They order their closest subordinates to contact traders, doing it as a secret business.

“Therefore, the suppression at the Tuek Thla market is just an action that looks good, as sooner or later, such operations will start again because persons in the armed forces, who do not have sufficient materials, since their leaders take these things and do not distribute them as required, need to buy them from the Tuek Thla market.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2193, 5.3.2010

Note:

It is not clear whether one expected part of the whole affair is only missing from the report, or whether it did not happen. The report says: “the authorities confiscated hundreds of military uniforms and other materials from ten stalls, and arrested some sellers of those materials to educate them… the sellers are not the ones to be blamed.” Was anybody also punished for these illegal actions? The traders were educated – but what about those who supplied the illegal merchandise? – “…everyone knows this problem.”

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 5 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #426, 5.3.2010

  • The Prime Minister Warned that Police and Military Chiefs Had Better Leave Their Positions if They Do Not Dare to Crack Down on Brothels and Gambling Sites, Being Afraid of Interventions [from higher levels; officials who intervene against such activities will be demoted – he said so during a celebration on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, held in advance, on 4 March 2010]
  • Acid Attack Will Increase, as the Perpetrators Consider It to Be Only a Misdemeanor [the Ministry of Interior is drafting stricter regulations against acid attacks – it is a general concern: misdemeanors are minor offense where perpetrators will not be punished seriously]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2193, 5.3.2010

  • A Large Scale Raid Was Held to Stop the Selling of Military Materials at the Tuek Thla Market
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: 2010 Is the Year of a Campaign to Eliminate Brothels and Illegal Gambling Sites
  • The Exercise to Fire [215] BM-21 Rockets Was Successful, as the Targets Were Hit Very Well [Kompong Chhnang]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11#740, 5.3.2010

  • The United States of America Said that Cambodia Is a Transit Country for Money Laundering and Drug Smuggling [according to a report released early last week by the US Department of State, saying that Cambodia still does not have appropriate laws to control money laundering]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6900, 5.3.2010

  • Each Year There Are 200,000 Graduates in Cambodia [but it is not mentioned here how many can find jobs]
  • An Austrian Man [Mr. Motalic Ganhad ((phonetic – obviously wrong – we were not able to clarify the name))] Who Died Left His Inheritance to the Cambodian Red Cross, Including a House and Half a Million Euro at a Bank in Austria

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3824, 5.3.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Will Hold a Press Conference about the Importance of the [anti-corruption] Draft of the Opposition Party, That the National Assembly Sent Back

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5142, 5.3.2010

  • The National Assembly Rejected an Anti-Corruption Draft, Presented by the Sam Rainsy Party [according to The Cambodia Daily, copies of the government’s draft anti-corruption law were finally released and hand-delivered to all lawmakers in the National Assembly – nearly three months after being approved by the Council of Ministers]
  • The Case of the Accident, where a Korean Man Drove a Car and Hit Three Persons, Killing Them, in Kompong Thom, Has Not Yet Been Settled [compensation is still being negotiated]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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