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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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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