Friday, 19.9.2008: The United States Expects that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will No Longer Be Involved in a Corruption Scandal

Posted on 20 September 2008. Filed under: Week 578 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 578

“The United States expects that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will no longer be involved in a corruption scandal in the future, after the US pledged to grant US$1.8 million to the mixed tribunal to seek justice for the victims who died during the Killing Field regime. This information is based on statements of the spokesperson of the US Department of State Sean McCormack during a press conference in Washington on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 [see the full text at the end].

“Mr. Sean McCormack stated, ‘We believe that the court is now capable of meeting international standards of justice, and our decision at this time to identify funds reflects our belief that the court has the capacity to respond effectively and appropriately to these allegations.’ He said that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal still has more to do, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have made significant strides to overcome international concerns about corruption, mismanagement, and political influence, including adding a new international deputy administrator from the United Nations side, strengthening management practices, and establishing procedures to deal with allegations of wrongdoing.

“It should be remembered that previously, employees of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal had repeatedly raised the problem of kickbacks in exchange for getting employed, but it was never officially announced that there were any perpetrators or who they are. As a result of suspicion, the UN Development Program office had suspended more than US$300,000 for a period of time, suspending the payment of salaries for Khmer staff in July. Then, the head of the Khmer Staff Department was removed from his position, as a big corruption leader at the Khmer side of the court, but it seems that nobody really dares to touch him.

“The international community and many donor countries, especially the United States, hesitated to grant more funds to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, because of the [not yet clarified allegations of a] corruption scandal. However, the United States, through its Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. John Negroponte, who visited Cambodia recently, pledged to grant US$1.8 million to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, so that it can proceed smoothly. Mr. Sean McCormack added that the US Department of State had already shared information about this attempt to help Cambodia to try the former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“Mr. Reach Sambath, the spokesperson of the [Cambodian section of the] Khmer Rouge Tribunal, said that the granting of US funds is mainly a political sign, and the tribunal welcomes this decision by the United States as a correct one. He went on to say that although this grant is small, it is better than nothing, and though it comes late, it is better than nothing. Mr. Reach Sambath boasted that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is strongly committed and has created clear plans to deal with corruption, like by the nomination of two ethics monitoring officials, and the reassignment away of the director of personnel.

“This spokesperson hinted that the trial of Kang Kek Iev – called Duch, the former Tuol Sleng Prison chief – might happen in October or in November, after some procedural problems between the co-investigating judges and the co-prosecutors will have been clarified. Some officials of civil society organizations and observers are keenly observing this problem, because they want to see that the trial of the suspects to happens soon, in order to find justice for the victims. However, if there is more delay, the funds from the United States will be spent wastefully, and the Khmer citizens still do not see the light of justice.

“The Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which has suffered from allegations of a corruption scandal, needs approximately US$50 million in addition, to cover expenses until 2010, out of which approximately US$10 million are to come from the Cambodian side, and approximately US$40 million are needed from the United Nations. At present, many observers are waiting to see whether the trial – which is planed to take place this late October – of Khiev Samphan, who had filed an appeal to be temporarily released from detention, will proceed smoothly or not. If the trial of Khiev Samphan in October faces complications and is delayed again, like it happened already on 23 April 2008, it is not easy for the tribunal to seek additional millions of dollars.

“Although the US government announced to ask for parliamentary approval for a grant of US$1.8 million to the [UN, not the Cambodian section of the] Khmer Rouge Tribunal budget during the recent visit by the US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, some observers of the processes of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal do not expect that this mixed tribunal can find justice for the victims who were killed during the killing filed regime, because previously, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal had spent already millions of dollars wastefully, while Khmer citizens in general have been waiting for justice nearly 30 years. Furthermore, irregularities and a corruption scandal at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have not yet been clarified.

“Khmer citizens inside of the country and abroad want that the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders should occur soon, as long as they are still alive, so that the real reasons that led to the killing of more than 1.7 million people during their time in power from 1975 to early January 1979 can be revealed. Therefore, if there is further delay, those former Khmer Rouge leaders might die before the trial takes place, because already at present, they became older, and some of them had been suffering from serious illness and had often been sent to Calmette Hospital.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3569, 19.9.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 19 September 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1750, 19.9.2008

  • Samdech Hun Sen and Samdech Krom Preah [Norodom Ranariddh] Extend Friendly Wishes to Each Other; Amnesty Letter for Samdech Krom Preah Arrived at the Royal Palace on 18 September 2008
  • The Ministry of Economy and Finance Has Not Taken Any Action to Decrease the Price of Fuel Following Samdech Hun Sen’s Order
  • The Murder Case of the Journalist of Moneaksekar Khmer [Mr. Khim Sambo and his 21-year-old son] Reaches a State to Call Those Who Know Much to Be Asked [medical doctors of Calmette Hospital, editor of The Cambodia Daily, Mr. Dam Sith, editor-in-chief of Moneaksekar Khmer, staff of ADHOC and of LICADHO]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #247, 19.9.2008

  • [Opposition party President] Sam Rainsy Affirms that on 24 and 25 September 2008, There Will Be No Opposition Party Parliamentarians Present to Satisfy the Face of the Cambodian People’s Party


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #102, 19.9.2008

  • The Head of the Government Affirmed His Final Position Regarding some Political Issues Related to the Opposition Parties [he warns to sue Sam Rainsy for insulting the new National Assembly by saying that it is a thief, ghost, wind, and a Yuon (Vietnamese) National Assembly]
  • Vendors of the New Market Plan to Protest in Front of Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen’s House [related to the plan to narrow their stalls]
  • US Military Medics [from the US Tripler Army Medical Center] for Smile, Sound, and Sight, Treat Khmer Citizens Free of Charge [from 10 to 19 September 2008]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6454, 19.9.2008

  • Thai Prime Minister [Somchai Wongsawat – สมชาย วงศ์สวัสดิ์] Responds Positively to Continue to Negotiate with Cambodia [after Prime Minister Hun Sen’ request for negotiations]
  • Delegations from Hong Kong and from [South] Korea Look for Development in Sihanoukville [with plans build new towns, casinos, hospitals, stadiums, hotels, a public zoo, golf courses, resorts, and seashore and on-the-sea recreation sites, and also preserving a natural forest park]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #34, 19.9.2008

  • The United States Expects that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will No Longer Be Involved in a Corruption Scandal
  • [Sam Rainsy Party Deputy Secretary General] Mu Sochua: 20% or 21% of Khmer Citizens Lack Food [she raised this problem, based on a survey by the Cambodia Development Resource Institute]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4698, 19.9.2008

  • Cambodia Criticizes Thailand for Lying to the World by Announcing that the Ta Krabei Temple [located in an unmarked border region] Belongs to Them
  • Vietnam Sends Seventeen Khmer Citizens Home, Whom They Rescued from a Leaking Ship
  • Digging up of Khmer Ancestral Graves Happens Again in Thma Pouk [probably by artifact plunderers – Banteay Meanchey]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3411, 19.9.2008

  • The Court Summons Representatives of the Citizens and of the Company over the Boeng Kak Lake Land Dispute Today [after citizens had filed a complaint, requesting to stop the dredging of sand to fill the lake]

Cambodia related section of the press conference at the US Department of State on 16.9.2008
Source:
http://useu.usmission.gov/Article.asp?ID=B76C5503-996F-4F03-AAC0-749F4312BA5D

QUESTION: Did you manage to get answers to the two questions that I had at the end of the briefing yesterday,…[on] the Cambodia issue?

MR. MCCORMACK: As a matter of fact, we did. And I have on Cambodia – I have some –…
I’ll just read – I have a few points on this. I’ll read them off to you and see if they’re useful.

We are committed to helping Cambodia in its efforts to hold Khmer Rouge leaders accountable for their crimes. The State Department has notified Congress of our intention to provide $1.8 million to help the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the E-triple-C, complete its task. We believe that the court is now capable of meeting international standards of justice, and our decision at this time to identify funds reflects our belief that the court has the capacity to respond effectively and appropriately to these allegations.

While the court still has more to do, the ECCC has made significant strides to overcome international concerns about corruption, mismanagement, and political influence, including adding a new international deputy administrator, strengthening management practices, and establishing procedures to deal with allegations of wrongdoing.

Nonetheless, the court must still take appropriate steps to address the current allegations and hold responsible those involved.

QUESTION: And this was – a similar message was conveyed by the Deputy [Secretary of State Negroponte] when he was there?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the issue was discussed by the Deputy in Phnom Penh.

QUESTION: Yeah, but, I mean – but he told them that they were going to get the money.

MR. MCCORMACK: I have not spoken with the Deputy, so I can’t vouch firsthand for his message. But the issue was raised.

Click here to have a look at the last editorial – how the whole Khmer press withholds the final, decisive document from the public, before the Preah Vihear Temple was listed as a World Heritag Site.

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Wednesday, 27.8.2008: Seng Theary Is Ordered to Stop Working, but There Are Persons to Defend Her

Posted on 28 August 2008. Filed under: Week 575 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

“Phnom Penh: Ms. Seng Theary, the president of the Center for Social Development [established in 1995 ‘to promote democratic values and improve the quality of life of the Cambodian people through training, seminars, research, publication, broadcasting, partnership with other like-minded organizations and institutions and dialogue with Cambodians from all walks of life’], has been told to stop to work two times already, because she does not follow her contract responsibly as seen by the board of directors, and still continues to work without caring about the order to stop, issued by the board of directors that has appointed her to this position.

“On 26 August 2008, many journalists went to the Center for Social Development, because they had been informed by phone that the Center for Social Development had planned to hold a press conference, but when they arrived there, they were prevented to enter.

“Mr. Vi Houi, the president of the board of directors of the Center for Social Development, reported to Kampuchea Thmey in the evening of 25 August 2008 that the board of directors plans to hold a press conference about the firing of Ms. Seng Theary from her work on 26 August 2008, but Ms. Seng Theary’s supporters had requested to discuss the possibility to keep her as the president of the center.

“Mr. Vy Huy added that Ms. Seng Theary has been fired already more than 60 days ago, but she refused to leave. He said that the board of directors has contacted some donor countries, but they had responded asking that at this stage, the donors requested to stay quiet temporarily. If there would be no agreement between Ms. Seng Theary and the board of directors, there would be no salaries for the staff, as well as no money to pay the rent for the office.

“On 26 August 2008, some staff members had distributed some documents to the journalists and asked them to wait outside of the fence, but later there was no one from the center to inform them what happened or to offer interviews to the journalists, so that the journalists, both Khmers and foreigners, after waiting until after 11:00, finally decided to leave.

“The journalists said that maybe the staff of the Center for Social Development asked the journalists to sit and wait, to share with them the arguments between staff and board, that is why they did not offer any interviews and did not say anything at the beginning.

“According to some staff, the Center for Social Development started to have internal disputes, since Ms. Seng Theary had taken full control of the center. As soon as the board of directors had appointed Ms. Seng Theary as president [in 2006], she started to strengthen her power, and when she was strong enough, she did not recognize this board of directors that had assigned her as president, and created another board of directors that supports her, causing rift and turmoil.

Note:

A press release from the staff side is http://www.csdcambodia.org/pdf/2008/PressRelease-30-June-08.pdf/

“Many analysts said that leading a small center, depending on foreign donations, can bring rifts and disagreements: what laws to teach to citizens, and therefore, how citizens can then consider them as models. At present, Khmer citizens are not much weaker in knowledge than Seng Theary; but being the president of the center, she refused to give up her power, but what would happen if she ruled over the rules of the country?

“The letters announcing the press conference of the Center for Social Development on 26 August 2008 say that Ms. Seng Theary had already once been fired on 20 May 2008, and then she was fired a second time by the board of directors on 24 June 2008.

“The board of directors of the Center for Social Development has intervened with Ms. Seng Theary’s work already twice: once on 18 July 2007 and then again on 10 September 2007.

“Ms. Seng Theary has been hired to work since March 2006. During her work at the Center for Social Development, she had attended only four of the nine meeting of the board of directors.

“Ms. Seng Theary does not follow the contract she had agreed to with the board of directors of the Center for Social Development.

“Ms. Seng Theary had formed a board of directors while she was working under the administration of the board of directors of the Center for Social Development. There are eleven members in the new board of directors, as published by the Phnom Penh Post on 16 May 2008.

“Ms. Seng Theary had rejected a request to reorganize the statute structures for the Center for Social Development under the guidance by Oxfam – United States.

“Ms. Seng Theary does not fully cooperate with two arbiters – one comes from an important donor country, and another one is the founder of the Center for Social Development. As a result, the Center for Social Development lost aid from an important donor country.

“Ms. Seng Theary had requested coordination, but that request aims to ask the board of directors to do what she wants; she offered two choices to choose from – to ‘agree’ or to ‘disagree.’ The board of directors had responded by requesting a face-to-face meeting to solve the requests by Ms. Seng Theary, but she considered this response to be a ‘disagree’ answer, and she continues activities in her own ways by publishing another new board of directors’ list on the website of the Center for Social Development.

“It has been 63 days since the board of directors terminated Ms. Seng Theary. To leave her position for a long period vacant would affect the prestige of the Center for Social Development, and also its resources for the foundation. Also other foundations may not continue with their support from about October 2008.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1730, 27.8.2008

Note:

Ms. Seng Theary, who earned her degree in law in the USA, became internationally known through her book Daughter Of The Killing Fields – Asrei’s Story, where she describes her early childhood and life under the Khmer Rouge regime, then the flight of her family to Thailand and the resettlement in the USA – the description of her history is regularly accompanied by her own reflections.

As executive director of the Center for Social Development, the activities of the Center and she herself were often in the public limelight because of the controversial nature of these engagements, symbolized in the concern for “Four Freedoms”

“The Voice of Justice Program, at every opportunity, reminds the readers of the Voice of Justice columns or the Voice of Justice Research Bulletins and the radio listeners of the Four Freedoms – i.e., Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Belief, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want – which build the foundation for democracy, human rights, and social and economic development.

We continually lobby for a Freedom of Information Act, for a freer press, for a freer right to assembly, for a freer and open society… for we believe every Cambodian is born to be, and desires to breathe freely.”

These concerns are publicly expressed in the “Voice of Justice Column,” published twice a month in Khmer in Koh Santepheap and in English in The Phnom Penh Post.

Ms. Seng Theary took also an active role in some events which attracted public attention:

  • When the “G8” meeting took place in Germany in 2007 – the leaders of 7 Great industrialized countries plus Russia – an alternative meeting was also organized, as usual, with a critical appraisal of the interests of the powerful as over against the rest of the world, as even such large countries like China and India are not represented, and there are no African or Latin American members in the group. – Ms. Seng Theary was invited to speak to the “P8” meeting as one of the persons from “People” from 8 poor countries, to raise public consciousness of poverty in the world, urging the G8 to take action to end the plight of the poor.
  • The gathering of the “Dream for Darfur,” after having organized similar symbolic actions in different countries’ genocide memorials, planned to light a candle of commemoration at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Memorial in January 2008, led by Hollywood actress Mia Farrow and one of the few Tuol Sleng survivors, the painter Mr. Van Nath, coordinated by the Center for Social Development – but this was prevented by armed authorities.
  • More recently, Ms. Seng Theary’s requested to speak as a “civil party” participating in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia – the Khmer Rouge Trial – where there is also a role foreseen for the participation of victims. But the majority of judges ruled that only lawyers of civil parties could speak in pre-trial hearings, not victims themselves; so far, no victims’ voice could be heard in this court.

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #83, 27.8-2.9.2008

  • Mr. Hun Chea [Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew] Seeks a Lawyer to Sue an American Newspaper, Accusing it of Defamation [he asks for evidence for the accusation that he drove a car and fatally hit someone in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh]
  • [US Ambassador] Joseph [Mussomeli]: Preah Vihear Temple Dispute Can Be Solved by ASEAN


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1730, 27.8.2008

  • Seng Theary Is Ordered to Stop Working, but There Are Persons to Defend Her
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Samak Says Demonstrations Cannot Force Him from His Position; Siamese [Thai] Police Prepare to Resist 35,000 Demonstrators
  • Rumor in Pursat that the Spirit of Military Chief Khleang Moeung [heroic leader against invading Thai troops around 1482] Tells People Who Were Born in the Year of the Tiger and in the Year of the Monkey to Get Washed with Magic Water, or They Will Meet Danger


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #230, 27.8.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Says that the American Newspaper [The Modesto Bee about a fatal traffic accident and about impunity, saying “The world leader in corruption is – Cambodia”] Reflects the Facts in Cambodia
  • Sam Rainsy Says Hun Sen Government Is Afraid of Paris Peace Accord, Fearing to Lose Power [over border issue]


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #83, 27.8.2008

  • Constitutional Council Refuses to Recount Votes [in Svay Rieng] at Sam Rainsy Party’s Request


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6434, 27.8.2008

  • Miracle before Siam’s [Thailand’s] Invasion: A Piece of Rock from the Phnom Tbaeng Mountain Broke Loose and Rolled Down, and There Was a Pair of Flying Lights in January 2008 [People in Preah Vihear provincial town claim now to remember that back, in the evening of 27 January 2008, they saw two lights flying down from the mountain. One light disappeared at the Preah Vihear Provincial Office and the other light flew to the West]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3549, 27.8.2008

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Criticizes the Constitutional Council and the National Election Committee of Being Puppets of the Cambodian People Party

Click here to have a look at the last editorial – some fundamental challenges into the future

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