The Declaration of Assets Should Start with High Ranking Officials – Thursday, 26.8.2010

Posted on 27 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

“An anti-corruption law was already adopted by the National Assembly, but so far, the government has not implemented the law to eliminate corruption. In addition, the Anti-Corruption Unit and the National Anti-Corruption Committee have not carried out significant measures to fight corruption. The anti-corruption law requires some high ranking officials to declare their assets, but the declarations will be confidential. This invites criticism that the anti-corruption law in Cambodia is not conform to international standards and it is poor, compared with those of neighboring countries.

“Recently, the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng, said publicly that investigating officials of the unit do not commit corruption, and the Anti-Corruption Unit will form a confidential group to observe the investigating officials of the unit. Those officials will have to pass a lie test through a polygraph every year, in order to guarantee that the officials of the unit are not corrupt. Mr. Om Yentieng said so on 23 August 2010 during a Cambodian-Korean international conference on corruption. A polygraph test is done by using an instrument to detect whether a person being tested is speaking honestly or lying. A small confidential group will be created to observe the investigating officials of the unit in case they take the opportunity to commit corruption while fulfilling their duties.

“Regarding the above case, some observers criticized that the strategy of the Anti-Corruption Unit is ridiculous, because if it creates a small group to observe each other, they have no time to investigate the corruption of high ranking officials in the government. Also, there seem to be many irregularities in the Anti-Corruption Unit because as soon as a case of corruption had been found, it is kept confidential and quiet, and there is no public result at all. More than that, some state institutions are notorious for corruption, but the Anti-Corruption Unit administered by Mr. Om Yentieng has never taken any action to investigate them. This made the general public to lose faith toward the unit, as most corrupt people are high ranking officials and their partisans.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Ms. Mu Sochua, said that the Anti-Corruption Unit must accept reports of citizens on suspected corruption, and it must guarantee their safety in order to show that investigations over corruption will be enforced widely. She added that the first round of investigations should be conducted on high ranking officials such as the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, and Senior Ministers. If their assets do not correspond to their income, it would certainly mean that they committed corruption. In addition to Ms. Mu Sochua’s comments, officials of some non-government organizations said that just to look at the residences of some high ranking officials, it can already be concluded that they are corrupt.

“On 14 July 2010, the Anti-Corruption Unit announced to set November 2010 as the date to start the procedures on the declaration of assets and debts of high ranking officials, and of leaders of civil society organizations. The Anti-Corruption Unit will keep those documents; the number of persons obliged to declare their assets is more than 10,000 in Cambodia, including civil servants, military, and police, who have been appointed by royal decrees and sub-decrees, all members of the National Assembly, all members of the Senate, leaders of civil society organizations, high ranking officials, the head of the government, and officials and members of the anti-corruption institutions. The declarations will be updated every two years in writing, and it is required before and after taking or leaving office – but it will be made confidentially.

“Officials of some government organizations said that they dare to declare their assets publicly, because the property and money they have are not from corruption as in the case of corrupt officials who have colossal wealth. Therefore, if a declaration is required, it should start from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, and Senior Ministers down, as suggested by Sam Rainsy parliamentarians, in order to ensure transparency, because some high ranking officials own luxury residences and lots of wealth not compatible at all with their salaries. The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng, knows those high ranking officials well, because they are mostly senior officials of the Cambodian People’s Party in the government. Thus, the declaration of assets should begin from top officials down, and it should be carried out openly and transparently, while normal officials are not afraid to declare their assets.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3968, 26.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 26 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2337, 26.8.2010

  • Children of the Rich Drove to Chase Each Other, Surprising Half of the City, but Police Tried to Hide The Case [Phnom Penh – It started with an argument between two groups: one group drove in a car and another group drove two motorbikes. Finally the car tried to chase the motorbikes and hit the motorbike to fall on the ground, and a member of the car group took a hammer and hit a member of the motorcycle group, injuring him seriously. Traffic police caught the two groups and invited their families to solve the case. But when traffic police found that the case was not a traffic accident, but a criminal case, they sent it to the criminal police. After that, no more information was given]
  • National Military Police Intercepted Two Cars Loaded with Ebony Wood and Sent them to Expert Officers [four persons were caught – Takeo]
  • A Man Raped His [85-year-old] Mother-in-Law when His Wife Was Not at Home [he was arrested – Banteay Meanchey]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7044, 26.8.2010

  • Duch’s Defense Lawyers Appealed against the Verdict of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, while Prosecutors Demand a Higher Punishment for Him [the Former Tuol Sleng Prison chief Duch was sentenced to 35 years in jail, but he will serve only around 19 years from now on, considering his imprisonment in the past and a reduction of the penalty]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3968, 26.8.2010

  • The Declaration of Assets Should Start with High Ranking Officials

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #40, 26.8.2010

  • The Republic of Korea Donated Technical Equipment [like video cameras] to the National Television Station of Cambodia
  • Forty Two People Were Killed in a Plane Crash in China

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #245, 26.8.2010

  • A Protest Made the Phnom Penh Municipality to Suspend Sand Dredging to Fill the Boeng Kak Lake Area [as sewage water floods the houses of residents]
  • Fourteen Government Officers of the Anti-Corruption Unit Will Be Appointed as Members of the Justice Police [as part of the measures to combat corruption]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5286, 26.8.2010

  • The Voice of Vietnam Radio Will Open the Seventh Representative Stations in Cambodia [on 27 August 2010 in Phnom Penh]
  • The Head of State of Vietnam Begins a Three Days Visit to Cambodia Today [on 26 August 2010, in response to an invitation by the Khmer King]

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More Than 30% of the Size of Ratanakiri Is Contracted to Foreign Companies for Mineral Exploration, Affecting the Environment and the Living Conditions of the Poor Citizens – Thursday, 19.8.2010

Posted on 20 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“The rich natural resources in Cambodia, especially gold, gems, and diamonds, attract the attention from foreign investors to invest in mining in Cambodia, and the leading companies are the OZ Company and Southern Gold company of Australia. Also, some Yuon [Vietnamese] companies that do not make their identity known, operating illegally on gold exploitation, siphoning national resources out from Cambodia.

“The Yuon press quoted the director of the Saigon Jewelry Company, the biggest gold company in Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Long [Nguyễn Thành Long], as having said that the company had shown its plan to the Yuon government to ask for permission to invest in factories in Cambodia and Laos. If this company earns the approval from the Yuon government or from the governments where it plans to invest, this company will establish gold manufacturing factories abroad not later than in late 2010.

“Yuon officials said that this company will start its production with the trademark SJC in Laos this year, investing in Laos first, before seeking to create factories and branches in Cambodia. Some other Yuon companies investing in gold trade, such as the Sacom Bank, the Agri-Bank, and the Hun Huang [? – phonetic], and have opened representative offices in Cambodia and are strengthening and expanding their business operations.

“Yuon investors see huge benefits from investments in Cambodia and in gold exploration in the northeast of Cambodia; they have sent skilled workers to come to conduct illegal exploitation with the backing from military officials or civil authorities. Gold deposits in the northeast of Cambodia are being exploited illegally by traders, not leading to national income.

“Recently, Yuon traders had sent a barge on the Sekong river to Siem Pang district in Stung Treng, loaded with gold filtering machines, in an attempt to conduct illegal gold exploitation. The local authorities blocked the barge for some time to clarify questions about legal documents, but they will likely let it go after an intervention from the provincial level.

“Also, citizens in the Veun Sai district in Ratanakiri are worrying about the impact on water quality in the Sesan river, as Chinese gold miners are drilling to explore gold ore on Pang Island. They said that the Chinese company has been operating for two months, employing more than 10 Khmer workers, using two machines for drilling, and disposing waste water into the Sesan river, from which citizens consume water for their daily living.

“Citizens complained that at present, the water in the Sesan river was dirty and can no longer be used, but the local authorities do not intervene. Pang Island in the Sesan river has an area of 200 meter in length and 100 meter in width, and there live Krueng ethnic minority tribespeople, who have settled there since long. Now they are seriously affected by the gold exploitation by the Chinese company Indochine Resources [a holding company for the Indochine Group, ‘the largest mineral concession holder in The Royal Kingdom of Cambodia’ – including Indochine Mining].

“Officials of the Ministry of Industry. Ratanakiri Department, said that the Ministry of Industry provided a license to Indochine Resources in November 2009, to explore metal ore on an area of 200 square kilometers. So far, no companies have been registered also to exploit resources. All are just conducting explorations, and any exploitation in the past was illegal.

“The exploitation means that a company can gain benefits from the ore, whereas exploration means just to drill to find ore samples for experiments, but some companies colluded with expert officials and the authorities in charge to conduct exploitation while they only have exploration rights, so they gain benefits without paying tax to the state on their profits. Such anarchy occurs at the northeast of Cambodia, and some officials and members of the authorities are happy to collect personal benefits from it.

“According to expert officials, in Ratanakiri more than 3,000 square kilometers, or 30% of the size of the province, have been contracted to 19 companies to conduct explorations. Those companies deal with quarries, or they are construction companies, sand companies, gems companies, granite companies, and metal companies etc., and 10 companies have not received exploitation license. Citizens complained that some activities of those companies violate the land they own, and there is also deforestation.

“Civil society officials often voiced concern relating to the issues that some mineral exploration companies do not obey the laws, and that the requirements from relevant ministries and the exploitation by some companies affect the environment and the living condition of citizens. Expert officials never take restrictive actions against these companies doing exploitation, though citizens from the region had reported about improper activities of those companies.

“Since private companies started anarchic mine exploration in Cambodia without any interception by expert officials, they have extracted almost everywhere underground mineral deposits, but so far, no money has been paid into the national budget. Officials of civil and international organizations frequently warned that the improper management of mineral resources might seriously damage Cambodia. Therefore, the government must create laws to carefully control mineral resources and income.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3962, 19.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 19 August 2010

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1452, 19-20.8.2010

  • Two Persons Were Killed by Lightning while They Were Transplanting Rice Seedlings [Sihanoukville]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.1, #2331, 19.8.2010

  • Four Workers Were Attacked with Acid – They Sustained Serious Burn over Their Bodies [it is suspected this attack was related to rancor or a triangle love story; the two perpetrators have not yet been found – Phnom Penh]
  • Turtles and Many Other Types of Wild Animals Were Intercepted by Wild Aid [cooperating with the military police of Siem Reap to raid two sites selling animals – pangolins, soft shell turtles, and snakes]
  • A Plane Crash in Thailand Killed Five High Ranking Officials of the Ministry of Environment

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7038, 19.8.2010

  • Mobile Custom Officials Intercepted Two Trucks Loaded with Ebony [about 40 cubic meters illegally cut; the owner of the wood is known, but officials asked not to provide names [officials asked for understanding from journalists that they cannot provide the names while the investigations go on – Prey Veng]
  • The Gold Mining Area in Ratanakiri Cracked Down On Last Month Starts Operating [illegally] Again

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3962, 19.8.2010

  • More Than 30% of the Size of Ratanakiri Is Contracted to Foreign Companies for Mineral Exploration, Affecting the Environment and the Living Conditions of the Poor Citizens
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Criticized Corruption [over mining proceedings] of the Ministry of Industry, Which Led to the Canceling of the Kravanh Mountain Eco-Tourism Investment Project
  • At Least 145 Citizens Have Been Arrested [since 2008] over Land Disputes due to the Weak Court System [according to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #34, 19.8.2010

  • An Armed Clash Broke Out at the Choam Sa Ngam Border Crossing Point while Troops [of Cambodia and of Thailand] Were Patrolling [there is no report of casualties – Oddar Meanchey]
  • Japan Grants Technical Aid worth More Than US$4 Million for Agricultural Development [to improve agricultural productivity and to promote markets for agricultural products at the west of the Tonle Sap lake through the technical support to the Departments of Agriculture of Battambang, Pursat, and Kompong Chhnang]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.9, #240, 19.8.2010

  • ASEAN Begins Discussing about the Cambodian Request for an Intervention over the Khmer-Thai Border Disputes
  • Vietnam Strengthens Military Cooperation with Cambodia [Prime Minister Hun Sen had asked Vietnam during a visit by the Vietnamese Senior General Le Van Dong to help consolidate the defense sector of Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5280, 19.8.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank Plans to Provide US$558 Million [cooperation financing] from 2011 and 2013 [to support poverty reduction, to promote rural development, to improve the economy and agriculture, to strengthen the capacity of human resources, and to develop the financial sector and the private sectors]
  • The DK Fund [established 1998 by a Korean who was orphaned and later received a scholarship to study in the USA] Chose Cambodia to Provide Scholarships for Poor Students for Ten Years [the DK Fund plans to create a vocational training center in Sihanoukville, and a health science university in Cambodia]

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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]

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The General Public Criticized the Action of the Authorities to Arrest Children Selling Newspapers at Traffic Lights, Saying if They Cannot Help Those Children with Anything, They Should Not Destroy Their Rice Pots – Monday, 2.8.2010

Posted on 4 August 2010. Filed under: Week 676 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 676

“Homeless and poor children and orphans in Phnom Penh do different things to earn their living. Some steal, as they are too poor and cannot find enough food to eat. Some beg to survive, though it affects the social atmosphere.

“But after one year of being restricted, while receiving general education, many of these homeless and poor children and orphans turn to take up appropriate and honorable jobs again in the city by selling newspapers and flowers at traffic lights and along congested roads in Phnom Penh. These small jobs allow these homeless and otherwise inactive Khmer children to get away from misery and poverty and have better living conditions, where they can buy enough food to eat, which is welcome. Even travelers are pleased with those jobs of the children. They help to buy newspapers and flowers, and often they give them extra tips, as they see that these children can create honest jobs on their own. Compared with previous years, often many beggars were found at traffic lights, taking away the attention from the traffic lights.

“But it is regrettable and disgusting, that within the week, police tried to chase the children away who sell newspapers along the roads and at traffic lights, as if they were thieves. It is not known whether police received orders and from whom. These acts of the police make the children to live in fear. Some were sitting at the roadside, holding their newspapers and flowers and cried and felt hopeless for their lives, that just had started with some new light. The general public traveling along these roads condemned such bad actions. Some said that if the authorities cannot assist the children with anything, they should let them have their rice pots.

“In the heavenly modern cities of Singapore, Prey Nokor [Ho Chi Minh City], Bangkok, or Kuala Lumpur, in those highly developed cities, there are people selling things or distributing commercial advertisement at traffic lights. Why is it so different in Phnom Penh, which is heading toward modernity?

“What the authorities do is not different from just taking away the rice pots of those homeless and poor children, many are also orphans, and it is like pushing them back to return to their previous way of living.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7023, 2.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 2 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2316, 1-2.8.2010

  • The Prime Minister Dismissed Information Published by The Cambodia Daily [on 30 July 2010, saying that there is a casino allowed to be operated by the Korean company Intercity Group in Siem Reap, and he suggested that the paper should correct this information]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7023, 2.8.2010

  • The General Public Criticized the Action of the Authorities to Arrest Children Selling Newspapers at Traffic Lights, Saying if They Cannot Help Those Children with Anything, They Should Not Destroy Their Rice Pots

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3947, 2.8.2010

  • Human Rights Officials [of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] and [Sam Rainsy Party] Parliamentarians Called for the Release of Twelve Citizens in the Chi Kraeng District Who Will Be Sentenced This Morning [over different accusations, when they protested over a land dispute in 2009 – Siem Reap]
  • Cambodian and Yuon [Vietnamese] Officials Suggest a Meetings to Be Organized Every Two Years to Monitor the Application of Existing Agreements, while the Sam Rainsy Party Warned They Will Review the Border Agreements if They Win the Elections

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #19, 1-2.8.2010

  • A Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam Mr. Pham Gia Khiem [Phạm Gia Khiêm] Will Visit Cambodia [from 2 to 5 August 2010 to talk about cooperation between both countries in the border provinces]
  • Cambodia Faces Many Challenges to Adjust to as a Member of the World Trade Organization [for example, some kind of food export is not possible as Cambodia cannot assure safe and sanitary processes of food production according to international standards, according to a secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Hem Sithon]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #227, 2.8.2010

  • Cambodia Drafts a Royal Decree about Regulations for Military Reservists
  • A Canadian Man Was Found Guilty of Having Sex with [Cambodian underage] Girls [and was sentenced to 11 years in prison]
  • The Government Will Spend US$1.5 Million on Tuberculosis Research [its prevalence in Cambodia; Cambodia is among the 22 countries with the highest prevalence of tuberculosis in the world]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5265, 1-2.8.2010

  • Civil Society Official [Mr. Chan Soveth, a senior investigating official of ADHOC] Said that within the First Six Months of 2010, Land Disputes Declined [there were 86 land dispute cases, where 40 cases were big, between citizens and companies and military officials; compared with the same period in 2009, there were 200 land disputes]
  • Cambodian Army Commanders Inspect Troops at the Front Line, as Thailand Is Sending More Troops to Its Front Line near the Preah Vihear Temple
  • Within the First Six Months of 2010, Cambodia Encountered a Trade Deficit of US$0.8 Billion [the export amounted to only US$2 billion, whereas the import was US$2.8 billion – according to the National Bank of Cambodia]

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Cambodia Can Sell Forestry Carbon Credits on the International Market in 2011 – Friday, 23.7.2010

Posted on 24 July 2010. Filed under: Week 674 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

“Siem Reap: A senior forestry official of the Kingdom of Cambodia said that to sell carbon credits based on Cambodian forests to companies in developed countries, which are polluting the environment, might begin late this year or in 2011.

“The Director General of the Forestry Administration of Cambodia, Mr. Chheng Kim Son, said at 11:47 a.m. on 19 July 2010, ‘We hope that at the end of this year or in 2011, Cambodia will be able to sell abundant carbon credits for the first time from our forest to highly industrialized countries around the world which are emitting a lot of pollutants or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year.’

“He added that currently, the forestry cover of Cambodia remains at 59.09% of the size of the country which can attract tonnes of gas, but in the first step, we can create forestry carbon credits on 60,000 hectares of forest from communities in Oddar Meanchey, and the same plan is to be carried out also in the Keo Seima district [in Mondolkiri].

“Mr. Chheng Kim Son explained that according to a study, the 60,000 hectares of forest can attract and ‘sink’ more than 8 million tonnes of carbon within 30 years. Negotiations on the price for selling are going on, but no prices have yet been specified, as this depends on buying requests by encouraging companies in developed countries to balance their carbon dioxide emissions by paying money to developing countries to protect their forests [so that this carbon dioxide can be absorbed and ‘sunk’ in, protecting the atmosphere].

“He added that forestry resources are globally valuable for biodiversity, especially for the living condition of people. Forests can contribute to the economic growth of a nation. Therefore, all development plans affecting forests must be studied and assessed carefully in order to avoid wastage in the future.

“The Minister of Environment of Cambodia, Mr. Mok Mareth, used to say about the loss of forest that, according to a report of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3), just the annual loss due to deforestation and the decline in forests amounts to US$2,000 billion to US$4,500 billion, but the amount received from unsustainable investment is just US$45 billion. This shows that to conserve the forest well, will provide 100 times of the price back. He said so on 20 June 2010 during a celebration of the International Day of Biodiversity in Cambodia, organized in Siem Reap.

“Mr. Mok Mareth added that “It is to be regretted that biodiversity – because of a niveau of high prices in the economy, with growing consumption, with a strongly increasing population, as well as with development without proper planing, the ecosystem of the nation is eroding, leading to the remarkable and alarming extinction of different species in the world . According to an estimation, about 10% of the biodiversity assessed is strongly in danger of extinction.

“Mr. Mok Mareth went on to say that such big failures are caused by poverty, by a lack of understanding about the importance and the value of biodiversity, and because of a lack of participation by all involved, including investors, local communities, and ethnic minority people. These negative experiences are a good lesson for the world, to reconsider human activities that destroy natural resources, so that it is necessary to work out new effective strategies to achieve the three goals of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity: 1. Conservation, 2. Sustainable Consumption, and 3. Equal distribution of benefit in the use genetic resources.

“Civil society organizations working to protect forestry resources in Cambodia welcome the initiatives to sell forestry carbon credits of Cambodia for the first time, and this will become an important message to publicize the universal value and benefit of forests, so as to guarantee national economic development and to stop deforestation countrywide.”Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7015, 23.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 23 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2308, 23.7.2010

  • Within the First Six Months of 2010, 158 People Were Killed by Mines and Unexploded Ordnance [among the 367 victims, a remarkably increased number compared to 2009, where there wear 274 victims]
  • A Man Was Arrested for Raping His Daughter [Stung Treng]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7015, 23.7.2010

  • Cambodia Can Sell Forestry Carbon Credits on the International Market in 2011
  • There Are Almost 100,000 Candidates to Take This Year Upper Secondary School Exam [Grade 12] at 191 Centers

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3939, 23.7.2010

  • A Siamese [Thai] Delegation Will Meet the Secretary General of UNECSO in France Today, Asking that Developments in the Area around the Preah Vihear Temple Must Be Agreed to by Siam [Thailand]
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: Courts Are Political Tools of the Cambodian People’s Party That Do Not Play Their Role to Provide Justice to Victims

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #1, 23.7.2010

  • [Two] Robbers Robbed an Owner of a Construction Material Shop, Taking Away US$3,000 Safely [Phnom Penh]
  • Oil Tank Truck Rolled over a Motorbike, Killing One Person and Injuring Two Others [Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #221, 23.7.2010

  • Nokia [the world famous mobile phone company of Finland] Will Open Its First Office in Cambodia [in Phnom Penh – on 23 July 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5257, 23.7.2010

  • The Court Will Cut the Parliamentary Salary of Ms. Mu Sochua by Riel 4 Million [approx. US$950] Each Month [as compensation to Prime Minister Hun Sen as she lost in the defamation case according to the court, which requires her to pay Riel 8 Million, approx. US$1,900]
  • Officials of the United Nations and of the Royal Government Agreed to Hold Discussions [in September 2010] to Seek Funding for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [facing a financial shortage; in 2010, it needs additional US$10 million and in 2011, it needs US$39 million]

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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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The Declaration of Asset Will Be Made before November – Thursday, 15.7.2010

Posted on 19 July 2010. Filed under: Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

Note:

Apologies again for the delay – I am back in Phnom Penh, but I returned with a defective computer. I hope within one day to be up to date again.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: The declaration of assets of officials of the Royal Government as well as of relevant civil society officials will be made before November 2010.

“The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Senior Minister Om Yentieng, said during a press conference in the morning of 14 July 2010 that the Anti-Corruption Unit will proceed with the procedure of the declaration of assets of relevant officials, including officials of the Royal Government appointed by sub-decrees and royal decrees, as well as other officials including those of civil society organizations, and the declaration will be conducted before November 2010, to facilitate a quick enforcement of the law. He added that there are about 100,000 persons in Cambodia who are required to declare their assets. The duty of the Anti-Corruption Unit is to keep all documents. Also, the Anti-Corruption Unit has the right to check those documents anytime.

“Relating to a question from journalists about how much money is to be considered as corruption, Mr. Om Yentieng said that an amount to be considered as corruption does not need to be up to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Riel 1,000 to Riel 2,000 [US$0.25 to US$0.50] can also be considered as corruption, and there are many types of corruption, like the provision of licenses and permissions, or the offering of sexual pleasure which can also be considered as corruption. He said that improper activities of traffic police who fine citizens without giving them a receipt for the fine paid can also be considered as corruption.

“Mr. Om Yengtieng added that the declarations will be made officially, and the procedure does not protect corrupt people as the opposition parties have said, because the procedures had granted full rights to the opposition parties to express their ideas during the discussions and adoptions of the law in the National Assembly, but the decision [to terminate the discussions] were within the rights of the president of the National Assembly. He believes that this law will proceed smoothly. He went on to say that as soon as this law had been released, some officials required to declare their asset felt afraid. Thus, it is not a simple matter.

“The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit stated during the press conference that the Anti-Corruption Unit has a fivefold mission:

  1. Lead the fight against any acts of corruption.
  2. Fight against corruption of all forms, in all sectors, and at all levels.
  3. Proceed following three legal procedures: to educate, to prevent, and to punish.
  4. Fight corruption with participation by the general public.
  5. Fight corruption with participation by international agencies.

“Also, the Anti-Corruption Unit is always aware of a recommendation by the president of the National Assembly to prevent its members from committing corruption, as they are more in danger to commit corruption than others. As there are difficulties to fight corruption, the Anti-Corruption Unit is provided with some special rights to act.

“Mr. Om Yentieng stressed that all personnel of the Anti-Corruption Unit, including the watchmen at the Anti-Corruption office, have to declare their assets. There are two types of penalties for corruptions: misdemeanors and felonies, which cover 7-days to life imprisonment.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2301, 15.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 15 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2301, 15.7.2010

  • The Declaration of Asset Will Be Made before November
  • The Sharing Experience for Adapted Development [SEAD] Delivers 40,000 Books of a Services Directory for Vulnerable People [the books, which list 280 organizations, 25 units, 85 hospitals, and 220 health centers will be provided to staff of the government and of non-government organizations that work with vulnerable children and families to be used as their reference in offering necessary services to those people]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7008, 15.7.2010

  • More Than 100,000 Officials Will Have to Declare Their Assets and Debts Every Two Years
  • Cambodia and the United States of America Will Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations [from 18 to 24 July 2010 in Phnom Penh and in Battambang]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3932, 15.7.2010

  • More Than 100,000 Officials Are the Target to Declare Their Assets, according to a Report when Cambodia Hosted an Anti-Corruption Conference
  • Khmer Citizens Have Not Received the Right for Just Hearings, as Guaranteed by National and International Laws [according to observations by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights cooperating with the US Agency for International Development and the East-West Management Institute in 199 hearings at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #215, 15.7.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected UN Criticism [over the proceedings of the defamation case of the opposition politician, Ms. Mu Sochua, and Prime Minister Hun Sen, saying that this relates to internal affairs of Cambodia; recently the spokesperson of the United Nations, Mr. Rupert Colville, stated that Cambodian courts have been used as weapon to restrict the freedom of expression]
  • Vietnam Supplies Additional 20 Megawatt of Electricity to Cambodia [in response to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s request, amid the increasing demand for electricity in Cambodia; according to an agreement signed by both countries, Vietnam promised to supply 200 megawatt of electricity to Cambodia by 2009, but by now, Vietnam can supply only 120 megawatt due to a lack of electricity in its own country]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5250, 15.7.2010

  • Cambodia Earns Riel 6,000 Million to Riel 7,000 Million [US$1,380,000 to US$1,610,000] Each Year from Fishery Yield [each year 500,000 tonnes of fish are caught – according to the director general of the Department of Fisheries Administration, Mr. Nao Thuok]
  • Three Cars Loaded with Ebony Were Intercepted in the House of a Military Official in Stung Treng [but he has not been yet arrested]

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A Census to Find Ghost Names of Officials of the Cambodian Troops Is Being Conducted – Tuesday, 13.7.2010

Posted on 14 July 2010. Filed under: Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

Note:

Sorry for the new delays – computer problems.
I hope to be back in Phnom Penh by the coming weekend.

Norbert Klein

“Officials of the Ministry of Defense began a countrywide census of military personnel in an attempt to cut out the number of ‘ghost soldiers’ from the salary lists of the Cambodian government. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense, Mr. Chhum Socheat, said on Monday that an annual census of all soldiers will be more accurate and thorough this year than those conducted in previous years.

“Mr. Chhum Socheat said, ‘It is an annual census to find out the number of real the 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.

“Under the arrangements for the census, which started last week, 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.

“Mr. Chhum Socheat added that the names of soldiers who do not show up will be deleted from the salary lists of the Ministry of Defense. All military officials and other personnel have to identify themselves before the end of this month. He added that officials believe that this year, the data will be accurate, because of the use of a computer system to store all documents, organized according to the received information. He said, ‘This time, we will conduct a census that is much more accurate than before. At the end, there will be hardly any ghost soldiers, due to the use of modern technology.’

“Mr. Chhum Socheat went on to say that he does not have detailed information about the current military forces or about the number of ghost names that the government had found in recent years. But he said that he will announce the results of the present census at the end of this month.

“Relating to this issue, a parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, said that the government found 10,000 ghost soldiers and 10,000 ghost police in a study in 2008.

“He continued to say that the effort is being implemented after Prime Minister Hun Sen had encouraged all institutions, including the military, to cut out the number of officials who exist only by name. Mr. Cheam Yeap said, ‘We are conducting a more thorough census. No one can falsify it.’

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that he supports the census in the military. He said, ‘I support the census to find the real number of soldiers,’ adding, ‘the number of these not-existing soldiers wastes million dollars of our national resources. We wait to see the results.'” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #213, 13.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2299, 13.7.2010

  • US Under-Secretary of State [William J. Burns] Pays a Visit in Cambodia on 17 and 18 July 2010 [he will meet with officials of the government, of political parties, and of civil society organizations]
  • Police Checked a Storehouse and Found Many Tonnes of Fake Cosmetic Products in Veal Vong Commune [Prampir Makara district, Phnom Penh; a Chinese woman was arrested]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7006, 13.7.2010

  • The Angkor Sentinel 2010 Global Peacekeeping Operations Exercise Starts from 12 and will continue to 30 July 2010 [under the framework of the United Nations; the multi-nation exercise focuses on keeping peace in the case of riots by uprisings, terrorists, and criminals, and in the case of racial conflicts]
  • Yellow Shirt Leaders Demanded [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit to Cancel the Memorandum of Understanding about the Cambodian and Siamese Border from 2000 [claiming that it leads to a Thai territorial loss]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3930, 13.7.2010

  • [More than 100 veterans] Representatives of 620 Disabled Families [from Kompong Cham] Come to Ask for an Intervention by [Prime Minister] Hun Sen [in front of his residence in Phnom Penh] over a Social Land Allocation of 4,000 Hectares [to be distributed to them, but so far, they have not been provided with the land]
  • [Vice-president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm: At Present the Powerful Are Creating Refugees Everywhere in the Country [as a result of evictions during land disputes]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #213, 13.7.2010

  • A Census to Find Ghost Names of Officials of the Cambodian Troops Is Being Conducted
  • The Russey Keo District Authorities Liberated More Than 250 People from a Company That Sends Workers [illegally] to a Foreign Country [to Malaysia – girls were locked up in a residence to receive training before they are sent; the owner of the residence and some other people were arrested – Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5248, 13.7.2010

  • The Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers of Mr. Chea Mony Suspended a Strike [after the worker’s salaries have been increased to a minimum of US$61 per month]
  • Ever More Cambodian Tourists Visited Malaysia during the Last Five Years [there was an increase of about 20% each year; in 2009, there were 43,146 Cambodian tourists, and within four months of 2010, there have already been 15,837]

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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]

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The Prime Minister Ordered the Authorities to Collect and Report the Numbers of Disabled People – Tuesday, 22.6.2010

Posted on 24 June 2010. Filed under: Week 670 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 670

Note:

Apologies – delays of the publication may occur until 17 July 2010 because of my international travel.

Norbert Klein
At present in Brussels/Belgium at the meetings of ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

“Phnom Penh: In the morning of 21 June 2010, the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia called on the authorities countrywide of all levels to collect and report the accurate numbers of disabled people, in order to facilitate the creation of policies as well as of procedures to assist the disabled people.

“The speech of the head of the Royal Government was welcomed by officials from the opposition parties and from civil society organizations in Cambodia, but they appealed on the Prime Minister to monitor the implementation by himself – otherwise the implementation by local authorities may not be effective.

“Presiding over the closing convention at the National Institute of Education, and the third anniversary of the creation of the Cambodian Veterans Association, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, said, ‘I call on the municipal and district authorities and other related authorities to check how many veterans live in their localities, and among them, how many are poor so as to set up programs to assist them.’

“An opposition party parliamentarian, Mr. Chea Poch, spoke to Deum Ampil on Monday evening, saying that he strongly supports what the Prime Minister said, adding that Samdech Hun Sen really thinks about the benefits of Cambodia’s disabled people. But he asked Samdech Hun Sen to monitor the situation himself, as some officials do not take up his recommendations.

“Mr. Chea Poch added, ‘Since 1992, and later in 1998 when the war ended, the Prime Minister mentioned this issue, but local authorities do not listen. Therefore, I suggest that Samdech Hun Sen takes practical steps.’

“As an example for a similar situation Mr. Chea Poch pointed to the case of illegal logging, which had led to the removal of the Director of the Forestry Administration in the Ministry of Agriculture, Ty Sokun, but he was not arrested and jailed. On the contrary, he has been promoted.

“A senior investigation official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], Mr. Chan Soveth, praised the concern of the Royal Government of Cambodia and of the Cambodian Veteran Association, so that there should be only few disabled people found begging or causing trouble in the society.

“However, Mr. Chan Soveth regretted that the government just creates awareness, but does not initiate programs to support the daily lives of disabled people – now they feel disappointed, though they had sacrificed themselves for the country, but assistance should not be provided based on nepotism.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen clearly said that the help for disabled people should be provided without nepotism; that means that all will get help without considering their political orientation.

“Regarding this point, the head of the Royal Government asked to check certain salary lists to prevent the selling or buying and the mortgaging of materials provided to disabled people.

“He said, ‘I ask that those who bought Provisions booklets [to administer the salaries and and material donations] for disabled people to return the booklets to them, either free of charge or by selling them back at appropriate prices.’

“The Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, Mr. Ith Samheng, said during the convention that all veterans receiving support from the state in 2010 are 90,605 families or 268,082 persons, and the monthly funds spent on them amount to Riel 6,419,834,848 [approx. US$1,503,000].

“Mr. Ith Samheng added that during the convention, additional members of the central committee of the Cambodian Veterans Association were nominated, where there are 66 members, among them additional 10 permanent members, two additional deputy heads, and three more deputy general secretaries. In total, there are 161 members and 17 permanent members in the central committee of the Cambodian Veterans Association.

“It should be noted that Prime Minister Hun Sen is the head of the Cambodian Veterans Association, together with three deputy heads: Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh, Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam On, and Minister Ith Samheng.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #510, 22.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #510, 22.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Ordered the Authorities to Collect and Report the Numbers of Disabled People
  • The Prime Minister: The Use of the Word “Disappointed” by [the UN Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia] Surya [because he could not meet the Prime Minister who was not well] Is a Big Insult [for the leader of Cambodia; he suggested Mr. Surya should have said instead he “regretted” this; Mr. Hun Sen personally regards this as a serious insult against him as a patient, so that he could not offer to meet with Mr. Surya]
  • Three Siblings Were Attacked by Acid by [two] Unknown Persons [they suffered minor injuries – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2281, 22.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: Cambodia Was a Peaceful Island [country with peace and no war] before the Coup on of 18 March 1970 [by Field Marshal Lon Nol] [Though there was internal war with the Khmer Rouge movement, and part of the country was used by North Vietnamese troops which led to the bombing in these areas by the US air force]
  • A Man Who Trafficked [twelve] People to Be Sold in Siam [Thailand] Was Sent for Seven Years to Prison

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #687, 22.6.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Continues to Ask Samdech Euv [the former King] to Discuss Border Issues with Yuon [Vietnamese] Leaders [during his present visit to Vietnam]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6988, 22.6.2010

  • A Woman Was Killed and Her Body Was Cut to Pieces and Thrown Away at the Pich Nel Valley [perpetrators are not yet identified – Kompong Speu]
  • The Internet Service Provider EZECOM Provides Free Internet Access to Universities

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #198, 22.6.2010

  • The State Has Provided More Than 20,000 Hectares of Land to Veterans [countrywide so far]
  • Internet Game Centers Are Opened Again after They Were Considered to Be Legal [before the authorities had closed places operating computer games regarding it as gambling. After the Minister of Information explained the difference between games and gambling, game centers are now allowed to open gain]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5230, 22.6.2010]

  • 3rd July 2010 Is the Deadline for [opposition party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua to Pay Her Fine to the Treasury [for losing a defamation court case with Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • A Mother and Her Son Were Killed in a Store by Fire [allegedly from burning incense sticks]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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