Just Deny… or Investigate and Clarify? – Sunday, 25.7.2010

Posted on 26 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 674 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

After the acting Asia Director of Human Rights Watch had presented a report Off the Streets: Arbitrary Detention and Other Abuses against Sex Workers in Cambodia to the press, and this was reported on 21.7.2010, on the following day of 22.7.2010 there was already another press report: “The Government Dismissed the Report of Human Rights Watch.”

As this 76-pages report is based, as it states, on more than 90 interviews and group discussions with sex workers in Phnom Penh, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, and Siem Reap, one wonders how a government spokesperson could dismiss such a report on the day after its public presentation – a report that contains Testimonies from sex workers from around the country. The denial cannot be based on an investigation of the details and facts claimed to be real, with names and locations of witnesses, unless there is no respect for the persons quoted, not assuming that some of the terrible experiences they describe are correct and deserve legal clarification.

The press reported from the presentation that some of these cases were claimed to have happened: “Some members of the police abuse sex workers without ever receiving any punishment, and police punch them, beat them with rattan sticks, batons, and electric shock batons. In some cases, sex workers have been raped by police while they were in detention, and all sex workers have to pay bribes, or their money was simply stolen by police.”

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says in Article 31:

“Every Khmer citizens shall be equal before the law, enjoying the same rights, freedom and fulfilling the same obligations regardless of race, color, sex, language, religious belief, political tendency, birth origin, social status, wealth or other status.”

What are the implications – under the Constitution – when statements by Cambodian citizens who claim to have been victimized and abused by police, including the allegation of regular impunity, are dismissed and not taken up by agencies which should rather care for equal justice.

Human Rights Watch did not only report their observations, they also made practical proposals, as reported in the Khmer press:

“…the report of Human Rights Watch suggests the creation of a special committee to thoroughly and independently conduct investigations on violence and the extortion of money by law enforcement officials, by security guards working in the parks, and by staff or volunteers of municipal social rehabilitation centers; this committee should have representatives from the government who are capable and respectful, as well as from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Department of Social Affairs, UN agencies, non-government organizations, and representatives of sex workers.”

It seems that all this has now been dismissed – and the alleged impunity may continue without being investigated? – No investigation and clarified about what was wrong, and what was true and has to be punished according to the laws of the country?

On 26.7.2010 the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia – the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – will announce its first verdict, on the former head of the Tuol Sleng prison. He is the only one of the five persons facing the court who has not denied the accusations against him.

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The Export and Import of Cambodia Increased by 16% – Thursday, 22.7.2010

Posted on 23 July 2010. Filed under: Week 674 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

“According to figures from the Ministry of Commerce, the export and import of Cambodia increase by 16% in the first six months of this year, compared to last year.

Note:

We are unable to understand the meaning of the added up export and import figures, and the calculated combined percentage numbers for export and import together. The absolute figures, given separately for exports and for imports, are, of course, clear in their meaning, also the comparisons of present and of past years within exports and within imports, separately.
Any help to understand these combined “export and import sum and percentage” figures – via Comments – is appreciated.
Norbert Klein

“As said by experts, the commerce grows due to increasing global demand.

“Nevertheless, some experts warned that the economic recovery is in a delicate condition.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Chan Nora, said, ‘Commerce should be growing during this period as the global economy is recovering, while also the consumption of products increases. Especially, the Ministry of Commerce is trying to coordinate exports.

“Reports for the first six months show that imports increased by more than 18% to US$2,183 million this year, compared to the corresponding period last year with US$1,844 million.

“The exports increased by 13.14% to US$1,498 million. Compared to the same period last year, exports amounted to US$1,324 million, where 70% was related to garment products.

“The figures demonstrate that exports and imports in the first six months of 2010 increase by 16.19% to US$3,168 million compared to the same period last year.

“However, some observers noticed that the Cambodian economy is still facing dangers, as overall economic activity still drops, though the figures show an increase.

“The director of the Khov Chuly Group importing construction materials, Mr. Khov Phalaboth, said that even though there is progress in the real estate, agricultural, and industrial sectors, it seems too quick to say that the Cambodian economy has completely recovered. He said, ‘The economic downturn has not completely come to an end. Hazards remain. Typically, it is like recovering from sickness, but things might still get worse.’

“Mr. Chan Nora went on to say the increase in imports by Cambodia encourages an increase in exports. He said, ‘The local garment and textile sectors are doing better, causing also an increase in the demand for raw materials.’ The head of the Cambodian Economic Association, Mr. Chan Sophal, said, ‘The growth in commerce is really vigorous.’ He added that the increase in exports and imports is a measure of the economic growth of Cambodia. According to the National Bank of Cambodia, exports and imports dropped by about 17% from US$10,633 million in 2008 to only US$8,827 million in 2009.

“At present, the government is also looking into the future. Mr. Chan Nora said that the Ministry of Commerce is actively negotiating about the export of agricultural products to China, but the quality of local products is still an obstacle.

“He said, ‘We had asked people to send experts here to improve the quality of our products. We want to export our own manufactured products so as to get higher prices.’ He added that agricultural products are becoming important local products for export.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #220, 22.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 22 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2307, 22.7.2010

  • The Government Dismissed the Report of Human Rights Watch [about rights abuses and mistreatment of sex workers]
  • The Ministry of Justice Warned Court Officials and Clerks to Punish Them if They Act against Their Professional Standards [for example if clerks work as if they were in the position of judges or prosecutors]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3938, 22.7.2010

  • Sam Rainsy’s and Mu Sochua’s Cases [about the uprooting of Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers, and about defamation] Could Come to an End through Internal Political Arrangements via the International Community [officials of the Sam Rainsy Party hope so]
  • 114 Families in the District of Kien Svay Accuse Some Officials of Grabbing 46 Hectare of Rice Fields [Kandal]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #10, 22.7.2010

  • [The president of the Cambodian People’s Party] Samdech Chea Sim: Cambodia Develops Quickly because of Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen’s] Governing [he said so during the 35th meeting of the Central Committee of the Cambodian People’s Party]
  • The Government Hopes that the United State of America Will Cancel the Debt of More Than US$300 Million [owed by Cambodia since the time of the Lon Nol government, said the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Sok An, during the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Cambodian-US diplomatic ties in Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #220, 22.7.2010

  • The Export and Import of Cambodia Increased by 16%
  • Five Khmer Fishermen Returned from Indonesia [after they had been detained there for almost one year; before they had been forced to work like slaves for nearly two years on a Thai fishing vessel]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5256, 22.7.2010

  • Cambodia Prepares to Negotiate with Countries of the European Union to Lift Three Kinds of Visa Requirements [in diplomatic, official, and normal passports; the lift of visa requirements in diplomatic and official passports would help strengthen relations between the governments, and the lifting of visa requirements in normal passports would help to attract tourists between the countries]
  • The Meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union [held from 19 to 21 July 2010 in Geneva] Called on All Parliament Leaders to Help to Avert Further Global Crises
  • The Department of Labor Issued an Official Letter to Suspend the Operation of the Champa Manpower Company [that did send workers to Malaysia; after this company was found holding workers, including underage girls, in a bad living environment]

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Female Sex Workers in Cambodia Suffer from Members of the Authorities Who Use the Opportunity of Illegal Arrests to Abuse Them – Wednesday, 21.7.2010

Posted on 22 July 2010. Filed under: Week 674 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

“The acting Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, Ms. Elaine Pearson, said at the release of a 76-page Human Rights Watch report to the national and international press on 20 July 2010, ‘It is known since a long that some police and other authorities of Cambodia detain sex workers illegally, beat them and rape them, and steal money and other property they have with them.’

“Ms. Elaine Pearson added, ‘Police arrests sex workers as part of their regular raids in streets and parks in Phnom Penh. Using these opportunities, there is active violence, and other kinds of abuses happened during such actions to arrest and collect sex workers by members of the district police and by other authorities at specific times, sometimes targeting only sex workers to arrest them, and at other occasions arresting sex workers together with other groups of citizens that are considered as “garbage of society” found living on the streets.’ Ms. Elaine Person added, ‘Some members of the police abuse sex workers without ever receiving any punishment, and police punch them, beat them with rattan sticks, batons, and electric shock batons. In some cases, sex workers have been raped by police while they were in detention, and all sex workers have to pay bribes, or their money was simply stolen by police.’

“She went on to say, ‘In an atmosphere, where police who committed abuses do not receive any punishments, the Cambodian government has to recognize that not to initiate any criminal procedures against such activities is to allow human rights abuses to continue.’ She added that the Cambodian government should close social rehabilitation centers where sex workers are illegally detained, and to completely close the drug rehabilitation centers soon [which are the subject of similar allegations], as well as to stop all violence against sex workers.

“In addition, the 76-page report of Human Rights Watch titled ‘Off the Streets: Arbitrary Detention and Other Abuses against Sex Workers in Cambodia’ released to journalists on 20 July 2010, says that in Phnom Penh, police had sent sex workers to a Phnom Penh social rehabilitation center and then to non-government organizations or to a social rehabilitation center of the Prey Speu authorities. The conditions at Prey Speu are like hell, as sex workers who had been sent there told Human Rights Watch that they were allowed to get out of their rooms only twice a day to bath, using water from a dirty pond or to go to the toilet, followed by a guard.

“In addition, sex workers, beggars, drug abusers, street children, and homeless people also sent to the Prey Speu center have suffered from beatings, rape, and other mistreatments. The report adds that at least three persons had been beaten to death at the Prey Speu center between 2006 and 2008.

“Along with the demand and request to the Cambodian government to stop all violence against sex workers and to completely close any center that detains sex workers illegally and is using violence. Human Rights Watch asked the donors of Cambodia that support the efforts against human trafficking and training for police, especially the USA, Australia, Japan, the European Union, and the United Nations, to reconsider their funding to police institution and to the Ministry of Social Affairs, until an independent investigation about the alleged abuses is conducted, until the persons responsible for the abuses are brought to justice, and until the Prey Speu social rehabilitation center is completely shut down.

“Ms. Elaine said that the donors should not spend their money to train abusive officials, but should rather take steps to promote responsible actions from the Cambodian government. Also, the report of Human Rights Watch suggests the creation of a special committee to thoroughly and independently conduct investigations on violence and the extortion of money by law enforcement officials, by security guards working in the parks, and by staff or volunteers of municipal social rehabilitation centers; this committee should have representatives from the government who are capable and respectful, as well as from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Department of Social Affairs, UN agencies, non-government organizations, and representatives of sex workers. This committee should be created soon and should have the authority to summon witnesses and to produce public reports.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3937, 21.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2306, 21.7.2010

  • Twenty Four Female Workers between the Ages of 15 and 17 Were Found in the VC Manpower Company That Plans to Send Them to Malaysia [the Ministry of Interior is collecting information from them to take legal action against the company]
  • Takhmao Forestry Officials Intercepted [53 pieces of] Ebony Wood Loaded in a Twelve-Seater Car, Prepared to Be Transported to Vietnam [Kandal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7013, 21.7.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank Assessed the Cambodian Economy: Through [increased] Tourist Arrivals and Textile Exports, Economic Growth Is Estimated to Be 4.5% [in 2010]
  • The Construction of the Prek Pnov Bridge [across the Tonle Sap river] Is Almost Completed [after spending about US$43 million] and It Is Scheduled to Be Inaugurated in September 2010

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3937, 21.7.2010

  • Female Sex Workers in Cambodia Suffer from Members of the Authorities Who Use the Opportunity of Illegal Arrests to Abuse Them

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #9, 21.7.2010

  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Deputy Prime Minister Sok An Leads a Delegation to Attend a World Heritage Committee Meeting [in Brazil from 25 July to 3 September 2010]
  • Human Rights Watch Asked the Government to Halt Abuses against Women Sex Workers [when they are intercepted, they suffer beatings, rape, extortion of money, sexual harassment, detention, and other bad actions from the authorities]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #219, 21.7.2010

  • The Cambodian Stock Exchange Will Be Opened in July 2011 [according to a new delay announced by the Ministry of Economy and Finance]
  • There Are Many Plaintiffs in Case 002 [of former Khmer Rouge leaders, Khiev Samphan, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, and Nuon Chea; as many as 3,993 candidates applied to be plaintiffs of the case, and the judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal are considering whether to accept their applications]
  • An opposition Party Official Showed a New Position, Requesting a Political Coordination [between the president of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Sam Rainsy, and the government, relating to the removal of Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers, for which Mr. Sam Rainsy was convicted by a court]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5255, 21.7.2010

  • The Total Investment Capital during the First Six Months of 2010 Drops by About US$138 Million [to US$917.4 million, where US$161.4 million were invested by local investors – according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia]
  • Because of a Dispute [between families], a Policeman Fatally Shot Two Persons and Injured Three Others [he was arrested – Phnom Penh]

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Human Rights Watch Criticizes Cambodian Military, but Cambodia Dismisses the Criticism – Saturday, 10.7.2010

Posted on 11 July 2010. Filed under: Week 672 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

“Phnom Penh: Human Rights Watch [“Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. We stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice”] criticized the Cambodian military for being involved in forced evictions.

“This criticism is made as Cambodian military forces cooperate with the US army to organize a big military exercise starting on Sunday next week.

“According to a report from New York issued on 9 July 2010, Human Rights Watch said that the joint military exercise, which the United States of America decided to organize in Cambodia, will affect the US commitment to promote human rights in Cambodia.

“Human Rights Watch said that Cambodian military forces are used to protect the interest of private companies [see Phnom Penh Post of 2 June 2010] and to evict Cambodian people by force in order to grab their land. In addition, Cambodian armed forces beat and sometimes shot at Cambodian innocent people over land disputes.

“Human Rights Watch asked the United States of America to suspend its military aid to Cambodia, where it granted about US$1.8 million in 2010 for the construction of a military training center.

“Anyway, high ranking officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia dismissed this criticism, adding that the cooperation between Cambodia and the United States of America continues.

“The spokesperson and Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, said that what was mentioned by the Human Rights Watch was without clear basis and thus it is unreliable. Cambodian troops have never committed anything as criticized [see Phnom Penh Post of 10 May 2010].

The Asian Human Right Commission (AHRC) has learned that on November 14, 2006, three villagers were allegedly assaulted in relation to a land dispute by members of the military from the ACO command headquarters (tank headquarters)

“The spokesperson of the government, Minister of Information Mr. Khieu Kanharith, said that the Cambodian armed forces are used to protect and to maintain security and social order, and every country uses armed forces, also the United States of America. But the government has never ordered troops to grab people’s land.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, said that the criticism of Human Rights Watch is unnecessary and useless.

“He added that the relations of Cambodia and the United States of America are smooth in all sectors, both in such fields as diplomacy and military. These ties will continue without change.

“It should be noted that the criticism of Human Rights Watch was made a week before Cambodian forces start to cooperate with the US Pacific Command to jointly organize a big multi-national military exercise and training from 17 to 30 July 2010. Twenty six countries will join in this exercise which is named Angkor Sentinel 2010.

“The multi-national exercise is organized with the aim to strengthen the capacity of military forces for peacekeeping missions in the region and in the world.

“Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat said that twenty six countries will participate in the military exercise which is divided into two parts: a ‘command post’ exercise in Phnom Penh in the Intercontinental Hotel, and field training exercise at the area of the ACO [‘allied command operations’?] Tank Command Post in Kompong Speu, along National Road 4.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5246, 10.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 10 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2297, 10.7.2010

  • The Appeals Court Determined 9 August 2010 as the Date for the Hearing of the Border Post Removal Case [on opposition party president, Mr. Sam Rainsy]
  • After Taking Out Money from a Bank, a Man [a factory accountant] Was Robbed and US$3,500 Was Taken Away [there may have been two or more robbers involved, but they are not yet identified – Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7004, 10-11.7.2010

  • A Cambodian Muslim Man Got Drunk and Started a Shootout in a Cambodian Muslim Village, Killing Two People and Injuring Five Others Before He Escaped [Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3928, 10-11.7.2010

  • It Has Been Two Years Already, but the Authorities Still Cannot Arrest the Perpetrators Who Fatally Shot [Moneaksekar Khmer] Journalist Khim Sambo and His Son
  • Human Rights Watch Wants the United States of America to Engage in Strengthening of Human Rights During the Participation to Organize a Multi-National Exercise in Cambodia [the “Angkor Sentinel” exercise is part of the 2010 Global Peace Operations Initiative, an effort jointly run by the US Departments of Defense and of State to help train peacekeepers]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5246, 10.7.2010

  • Human Rights Watch Criticizes Cambodian Military, but Cambodia Dismisses the Criticism
  • [Former Tuol Sleng prison chief] Duch Asked to Change His Foreign Defense Lawyer Mr. François Roux [the Khmer Rouge Tribunal agreed to his request]
  • The King Called on All Development Partners of Cambodia to Provide Financial and Technical Support for Forestry Reform in Cambodia
  • A Man Raped a Two-Month Pregnant Woman and Then Killed Her in a Rice Field [he was arrested – Preah Vihear]

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The Ministry of Commerce Announced It Earned Riel 129,949 Million – Friday, 26.3.2010

Posted on 27 March 2010. Filed under: Week 657 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 657

“The Minister of Commerce, Mr. Cham Prasidh, said that in 2009, the Ministry was able to earn Riel 129,949,000,000 [approx. US$31 million] for the nation.

“Mr. Cham Prasidh said during a meeting of the Ministry of Commerce on 24 March 2010 that the income came only from public services that the Ministry provides to private companies.

“The services operated by the Ministry to get income include the registration of commercial operations and of commercial trademarks, the provision of certificates to certify the origin of products, and the checking of product quality, especially for food products for export and import, and for products sold at local markets.

“According to a report on the work in 2009 and on setting goals for 2010, 3,116 trademarks were registered in 2009, where only 698 were trademarks of local companies. Also, in 2009, the Ministry registered commercial operations for 2,045 companies which declined by about 26.5%, compared to 2008. Among those companies, only 39 companies were new companies, a drop by 2.5%.

“The same report added that though the registration of commercial operations declined, foreign investors from Vietnam, Korean, China, Malaysia, and Singapore significantly continue to trust the economic conditions and the political stability in Cambodia.

“The same source continued to say that the registration of export permits, based on the conditions and the origin of the products, covered 243 factories and 26 shoes factories. Those factories employ 320,834 workers who earned about US$27 million as monthly salaries.

“The exports to the United States of America amounted to about US$1.518 billion, which dropped by approximately US$471 million. The exports to Canada were US$198 million, declining by US$4.9 million compared with 2008. The exports to the European Union amounted to US$655 million, a drop by about 18%.

“Exports to other countries also declined. The exports to the American continent, excluding the United States of America and Canada, were about US$34 million, a downturn by about US$11 million. The exports to Europe, excluding the European Union countries, were about US$33 million, a decline by around 23%.

“The report adds that most products that Cambodia exported were garments and other textile products, shoes, rice, handicrafts, beer, and agricultural products, such as pepper.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5160, 26.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 26 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #444, 26.3.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy: The Temporary [Cambodian-Vietnamese] Border Markers Cost Cambodian Territory [he bases this statement on a 1:100,000 French colonial map of 1952, deposited at the United Nations in 1964, and a 1:50,000 map printed by the US Army in 1966]
  • The Spokesperson of the Siamese [Thai] Army Rejected [the Cambodian information] that Many Siamese Soldiers Were Killed by Cambodian Soldiers [during armed clashes at the border region near the Preah Vihear Temple]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2211, 26.3.2010

  • The Foreign Trade of Cambodia Declined in 2009 [to US$10 billion, a drop by 10.4%]
  • Three Laotian Men Were Arrested in Daun Penh District [Phnom Penh] for Drug Smuggling

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #636, 26.3.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay: After the Anti-Corruption Law Becomes Valid, the Sam Rainsy Party Will Propose a Law Which Sets Up Proper Salaries for Civil Servants

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6918, 26.3.2010

  • Three Suspected Robbers Were Sentenced by Citizens [they stole a motorcycle and were beaten by a mob to death, as police could not stop the beating – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3821, 26.3.2010

  • Sam Rainsy: What I Showed [the map and documents] Is Not for Defeating Any Individual [but for the sake of the country], and Prum Chea and Meas Srey Should Be Released as a Humanitarian Gesture [they are in jail for removing border markers in Svay Rieng]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #139, 25.3.2010

  • 700 Citizens of the Amleang Commune Continue Their Protest to Demand the Release of Their Representatives [detained for burning down the on-site office of Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company in Kompong Speu]
  • Human Rights Watch Asked Cambodia to Amend the Sub-Decree about Refugees [as the present one does not provide enough protection procedures to prevent deportation according to the international convention, which the Cambodian government signed so that Cambodia became a member]
  • The Government Plans to Create Public Housing for Poor Citizens for Long Range Rent Periods [of up to 50 years]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5160, 26.3.2010

  • The Ministry of Commerce Announced It Earned Riel 129,949 Million
  • The Law about Ownership by Foreigners of Upper Floor Houses Will Be Adopted by the National Assembly Next Week
  • The Siem Reap Authorities Intercepted a Third Wood Storehouse, Seizing 523 Pieces of Wood [about 15 cubic meters] and 66 Round Poles

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Civil Society: Public Leisure Time Activity Space for Youth Becomes Smaller but Commercial Entertainment Space Increases – Saturday, 20.2.2010

Posted on 21 February 2010. Filed under: Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“Phnom Penh: Experts in youth problems said that according to their observation, public leisure time activity space for youth in the country is becoming smaller, but commercial entertainment space, such as night clubs and beer gardens, is increasing significantly.

“A civil society organization official, who asked not to be named, said early this week that youth at present lacks public space for leisure time, but they are enjoying the increasing number of night clubs, bars, Karaoke parlors, and beer gardens, where they can drink alcohol, use drugs, and find many other services.

“He emphasized, ‘When young people nowadays open their eyes, they see nothing but beer gardens and night clubs.’

“At present, Phnom Penh has 375 square kilometers, but besides around Wat Phnom, youth can hardly find other parks. Places where they can do some physical activities are the Olympic Stadium and some few small parks, but when it comes to beer gardens, night clubs, and other places providing terribly services, they can be found at every corner of the roads.

“Regarding this comment, an independent councilor and researcher of youth problems, Mr. Tong Soprach, said on 17 February 2010 that as he has noticed, the above comment seem to be true.

“According to him, present day youth problems, such as drug addiction, crimes, and sex trafficking, result from two factors: modernization and the surrounding environment. Modernization pushes youth to fall into bad habits due to the influx of other cultures, materialism, and peer pressure. That young people are easily impressed by their peers happens because of their environment. The environment for youth is formed, at present, by beer gardens, bars, and night clubs.

“He said, ‘They are easily attracted by their friends – when they open their eyes, they see such places.’

“There are hardly any places for playing sports, besides one or two, at universities and at the old stadium.

“He added, ‘There is not much public space for youth, but we see there are more beer gardens and night clubs.’

“Besides the two experts above, the coordinator of the Cambodian Youth Council, Ms. Mao Puthearoth, recognized that libraries, bookstores, places in the open air, and places for playing sports were not increased in recent years, but there are many places of entertainment attracting young people when they travel around town every day.

“She said, ‘I do not see that cinemas were changed into libraries, but several were changed into night clubs.’

“Responding to this issue, she said that the Cambodian Youth Council will ask the Ministry of Education to focus on this issue.

“She stressed, ‘We want the government to pay attention to these issues and establish a youth policy on the national level, which is now still in the status of being drafted.

“Ms. Puthearoth said that the Cambodian Youth Council is encouraging the government to create places of entertainment for youth and take youth problems into consideration, before it decides to provide licenses for any commercial entertainment places to be operated, especially night clubs and other strange places for youth.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5131, 20.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 20 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #415, 20.2.2010

  • Cambodia [the Cambodia Angkor Air company] Buys [two] Planes Worth US$40 Million [to boost the country’s tourism sector]
  • A Teacher Who Tortured Her Adopted Daughter Was Sentenced to Serve 20 Years in Prison and Her Husband to Serve 10 Years [Phnom Penh]
  • Three Nigerians Were Convicted to 16 Years Imprisonment for Drug Smuggling [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2182, 20.2.2010

  • Police Arrested 21 Black People and Seized One Kilogram of Drugs [Phnom Penh]
  • The United Nations Called on the World to Contribute US$1.44 Billion as Aid for Haiti

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #607, 20.2.2010

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Gangs Jointly Beat Three Khmer Siblings, Killing One and Injuring Two Others Seriously [in Vietnam]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6889, 20-21.2.2010

  • Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Surround a Bank in Bangkok and Are Selecting an Uniformed Guards Troop to Oppose [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva’s Groups
  • Khmer Farmers Continue to Illegally Cross the Border to Enter Thailand [to seek jobs – Battambang]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3813, 20-21.2.2010

  • Charges [over defamation regarding a conflict in a Cambodian Muslim community] against a Radio Free Asia Reporter [Mr. Sok Serey – and others he had interviewed: two local human rights defenders, and one more person] Were Dropped [because there was no “malicious intent” in the reporting, and no reason to assume that the report would be “disturbing or likely disturbing the public peace” – but another person was jailed for five months for destruction of property – Takeo]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5131, 20.2.2010

  • Civil Society: Public Leisure Time Activity Space for Youth Becomes Smaller but Commercial Entertainment Space Increases
  • The Cambodian Mine Action Center Needs US$95 Million to Support Five Year Operations [from 2010 to 2014, to clear landmines from 20,000 hectares, and to clear 100,000 hectares suspected to have mines]

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The Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Declaration – Sunday, 7.2.2010

Posted on 8 February 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

The Mirror carried already last week a report about the extraordinary speech of the Prime Minister: “It Is Time to Stop; Military Officials Who Do Illegal Activities Are Not Fit to Work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces” – where he directly named several generals present, criticizing their unacceptable, corrupt behavior. During the present week, there were still positive responses in the press, including from sources not so close to the government. Human Rights Watch, a US based organization, often very critical of the political climate in Cambodia, also supported the Prime Minister’s warning to commanders over their corrupt, illegal actions. And the Prime Minister himself continued to speak according to the same line, when he attacked nepotism, warning that nobody should nominate relatives and partisans for public office.

But we got also another response: “Words are cheap, nothing will change.”

And another, also anonymous voice, calls it to be my idea – while I actually quoted Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia – that the Cambodian people are the masters of their country, because they can vote, saying, “Having rights is not enough. You’ve got to have the power to exercise those rights, so that they can be useful. That can also explain why the civil society has always failed in demanding for respect for human rights.”

These are pessimistic views, assuming and expecting that rights can be enjoyed automatically, while history shows in many different cultures that rights have to be fought for, even if they are written in the law, when other powers violate them.

The Prime Minister has spoken clearly.

According to a report in the Phnom Penh Post of 4 February 2010, “Farmers set to call soldiers to Kampot court,” saying

“A group of people in Chumkiri, Kampot, filed a complaint in the provincial court against members of an army unit they say are encroaching on their land and cutting down their fruit trees, escalating a standoff that began in 2001… The court complaint comes less than one week after Prime Minister Hun Sen warned top military officials to refrain from participating in illegal land-grabbing operations.

‘It is time to stop every activity involving illegal business or the support of illegal business. I don’t care how many stars or moons you have – I will fire you, and nobody will keep corrupt commanders in their seats,’ the Prime Minister had said at the end of a conference on military reform at the Ministry of Defense last week.”

So we will see.

But did civil society always fail in demanding respect for human rights? It is not clear on which basis this is said, and which understanding or misunderstanding of the term ‘civil society’ is used when saying so. First, there is no general, clear definition of this term. But it refers to all movements, associations, or individual citizens, independent from the state, whose aim is to improve policies, standards, or social structures, through common efforts. Civil society – that are organizations formed for these purposes – civil society organizations, non-government organizations, citizens action groups – but civil society is also all individual citizens in a social unit – be it a residential region, or a common interest group (for example enjoying sports or music, and caring together to see that the proper space is set aside for these purposes). Civil society is citizens who organize themselves to care for the quality of life where they live.

Civil society is also the majority of the citizens of Phnom Penh, who, in their majority, do not care that the Boeung Kak lake in this city is being destroyed, being filled up with sand for the benefit of some business interests to construct a commercial and housing center – though the plans have not even been made transparent and publicly know, leaving all the struggle for rights to the several thousand people who are directly affected, because they lose their traditional environment and with it also their means of living.

On 31 August 2008 The Mirror had reported the following: “Later in January 2008, Areyathor reported that Samdech Heng Samrin, the President of the National Assembly – and also a Honorary President of the Cambodian People’s Party – had signed a letter for the suspension of pumping of soil to fill Boeng Kak lake, and the paper reported also that the Phnom Penh governor and vice-governor allegedly disagree with each other about filling Boeng Kak lake.” We are not aware that the press has done any follow up on these reports. But the public is aware that the lake is gradually disappearing, that many residents had tried to organize themselves to jointly represent their concerns and demands, and that some of the remaining residents around the lake are at present living on top of rising dirty water, as the promised pumping for stagnant dirty water – as a result of the filing in of sand – was installed too late and is not strong enough.

Recently I had the opportunity to be in Myanmar, and to have dinner one evening at the Kan Taw Gyi lakeside – a wide park where hundreds of people enjoy walking around or sitting together, with a music stage, very many small restaurants, and a wonderful view. Phnom Penh is destroying such a possibility for its future.

The lake before being filled

The lake before being filled

The lake being filled

The lake being filled



.

At the Kan Taw Gyi Lake in Yangon/Myanmar.

At the Kan Taw Gyi Lake in Yangon/Myanmar.



.

Does civil society – the people in general in Phnom Penh – care? Or why not?

.

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The Cambodian Commercial Scale Is Not Yet in Balance – Friday, 5.2.2010

Posted on 6 February 2010. Filed under: Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

“Phnom Penh: The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, stated on 4 February 2010 during the inauguration ceremony of the new building of the Ministry of Commerce, ‘The Cambodian commercial scale for exports is not yet in balance.’

“He added, ‘Our foreign commerce amounts to about US$10 billion. But the Cambodian export is only something more than US$4 billion, while the imports to Cambodia amount to much more. The Cambodian-Thai bilateral trade is more than US$2 billion; the Cambodian-Chinese is more than US$1 million; and the Cambodian-Korean trade is more than US$2 billion. In total, it is more than US$5 billion.’

“To reduce this commercial imbalance, Samdech Hun Sen called on local investors to boost productivity for export, handicrafts, fishery, and other products to meet both local demands and that on foreign markets, because Cambodia has many markets such as China, Japan, Korea, the ASEAN countries, Europe, and other markets.

“Samdech Hun Sen continued to say, ‘Just as a first stage, China allowed us to export more than 318 types of products and later on 400 types, but Cambodia does not have products to be exported to China, and to member countries of ASEAN allowing Cambodia, Laos, and Burma to export to them. But Cambodia does not have products to be exported to those countries.’ Samdech Hun Sen went on to say, ‘Cambodia must strengthen its position for exports, like meat processing, eggs, vegetables, and other goods which can be sold to tourists who visit Cambodia. The creation of markets for farmers growing vegetables and raising animals, and the selling of their products to many shops, creates consistent commercial processes, and we do not need to import many things from abroad. In the meantime, those products must have quality, be attractive, and safe. The Ministry of Commerce has to assist to seek markets for these products and to encourage more exports so as to earn more profit.’

“Regarding the commercial scale issue, an economist of the Cambodian Economic Development Institute, Dr. Kang Chandararoth, spoke to Deum Ampil, saying, ‘The commercial scale is not in balance, because previously, Cambodia exported many not-processed products [to become final products]. Thus, it makes Cambodia lose value-added profits. Also, it is related to the size of places or of raw materials that we use to make those products, as the commercial infrastructure of Cambodia faces many shortages.’ He recommended, ‘Cambodia has to reform its transport infrastructure and its commercial laws to facilitate the operations of investors.’

“Also, the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon, stated on 3 February 2010 in a press conference at the Phnom Penh Hotel, ‘The Ministry of Tourism will improve tourism services, including the creation of various attractions.'” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #406, 5.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 5 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #406, 5.2.2010

  • The Cambodian Commercial Scale Is Not Yet in Balance
  • The National Authority for Combating Drugs Reacted against a Human Rights Watch Report [rejecting accusations that there is mistreatment of people held at rehabilitation centers]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2169, 5.2.2010

  • Civil Society Official [the director of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC, Mr. Thun Saray]: Because of [Opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Acts It Is Difficult to Help Him [as he acted against the law: Mr. Sam Rainsy removed temporary border markers and was sentenced to serve a two-years prison term]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #731, 5.2.2010

  • [Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries] Chan Sarun and [the Director General of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture] Ty Sokun Do Not See the Forestry Crimes in Cambodia

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #598, 5.2.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson and parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: The Increase of Electricity Prices Shows the Government’s Incompetence to Develop the Economy

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6876, 5.2.2010

  • Human Rights Conditions in the 2009 Report Are Better Than in 2008, Especially There Was Not Imprisonment for Defamation [according to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #105, 5.2.2010

  • The Prime Minister Will Visit Preah Vihear This Weekend [on 6 February 2010]
  • Five Khmer Fishermen Escaped from Thai Boats and Fled to East Timor [after they saw their Thai boat owner throwing the body of a Khmer fisherman over board who had gotten sick and died]
  • The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC): The Freedom of Expression in Cambodia Was Restricted [in 2009]
  • The UN Studies the Copy Right Law Situation in Cambodia as Copyright Legislation Is Not Properly Implemented

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5118, 5.2.2010

  • [Puea Thai Party president, former general, and former Thai prime minister] Chavalit: The “People’s Army” Now Have Already Had Their Leader [he rejected a request for him to lead the so called “people’s army,” a group in the Thai military supporting the Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra]

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Controversies about Drug Rehabilitation Facilities – Tuesday, 2.2.2010

Posted on 3 February 2010. Filed under: Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

Note:

Apologies, for technical reasons we do not have a translated article from the Khmer press today.

We bring, however, references to a hotly contested issue from these days.

Norbert Klein

Humanitarian News and Analysis, a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, recently carried a report from Phnom Penh dated 29 January 2010, quoting that a climate of “sadistic violence” exists in government-run drug rehabilitation centers in Cambodia.

“It works on the wrong assumption that what helps people with drug dependency problems is being tough, using hard work and discipline. But there’s no quick fix.” Mr. Graham Shaw, a World Health Organization (WHO) technical officer based in Cambodia, says that persons in charge of running such drug centers openly admitted some time ago that they did not have the skills to conduct proper drug assistance.

However, operators of drug rehabilitation centers denied the accusations that patients are held against their will and subjected to “sadistic violence” such as torture, rape, and humiliations. Mr. Nean Sokhim, the director of the My Chance Drug Detention and Rehabilitation Center, Phnom Penh, is the director of the civilian-run My Chance drug rehabilitation center in Phnom Penh. In a report, he says patients are treated well, receive three meals a day, and have job training opportunities, and nobody is forced to be in his center. But then:

  • Interviewer: So if someone tries to run away you give them drugs so they can’t escape?
  • Nean Sokhim: Yeah, yeah yeah.

The World Health Organization did an assessment and they said in their report that they estimated that it was close to 100 percent relapse for the people who have been in these centers.. “It’s just the wrong way to approach drug addiction. Drug addiction is a chronic relapsing condition. It’s not helped by a period of military drills and forced exercise.”

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #403, 2.2.2010

  • Human Rights Watch Asked for the Closure of 11 Rehabilitation Centers of Drug Addicts in Cambodia [claiming that there is mistreatment against them]
  • The Prime Minister Suggested to Ministers to Reduce Their Visits Abroad [to save national resources]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2166, 2.2.2010

    • Police Suppressed Gamble Site of Chae Muoy [colloquial for Chinese “sister”], Holding Nine Gamblers for a While and Then Releasing Them [Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh]
    • Anonymous Persons Threw Many Plastic Bags Containing Feces into [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva’s Home [Thailand]

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #595, 2.2.2010

    • The Fact that Illegal Logging Still Occurs Is a Sign That Traders and Cooperating Officials Convey to Mr. Hun Sen, Telling Him that They Do Not Follow the Prime Minister’s Order [towards military officials to stop being involved in illegal activities]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6873, 2.2.2010

    • A Swedish Delegation [led by Mr. Jan Knutsson, the Director General for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden] Comes to Study the Reform Processes in Cambodia [such as the fight against corruption, the improvement of public services, the increase of salaries, and the strengthening of the capacity of civil servants]

    Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #102, 2.2.2010

    • The Prime Minister Called on the Citizens Not to Create Religious Conflicts [he said so during a Buddhist ceremony in Kandal]

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5115, 2.2.2010

    • Members of the Sam Rainsy Party Met Their Party President via Video Conference [while he is in France; he was sentenced in absentia to serve two years in prison for removing temporary Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers]
      Four People Died after a Truck Crashed into Their Motorbike from Behind [four of them rode on one motorbike; the driver of the truck escaped – Kompong Speu]

    Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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  • Eight Companies Will Invest in Agro-Industry Crops on More than 50,000 Hectares of Land – Monday, 1.2.2010

    Posted on 1 February 2010. Filed under: Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

    “Phnom Penh: The Royal Government, represented by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Mr. Chan Sarun, and representatives of eight companies signed, on 29 January 2010, contracts on agro-industry crop investment on more than 50,000 hectares of land. Most investments focus on rubber plantations in three northeastern provinces of Cambodia.

    “The signing ceremony was held at the Ministry of Agriculture. The chief of the cabinet of the ministry, Mr. Hong Nareth, informed Rasmei Kampuchea, saying, ‘After the Minister of Agriculture had received the authorization from the head of the government, we organized this official contract signing ceremony.’ The 8 companies received economic concession land of more than 50,000 hectares for investment. Among the 8 companies, 1 company is from Malaysia, 1 from South Korea, 4 are from Vietnam, and 2 are local companies.

    “Based on the contracts, he said that the Malaysian company will invest in agro-industry crops on more than 7,800 hectares of land in Mondolkiri. The South Korean company will invest to plant rubber trees on 6,600 hectares of land in Kratie. The companies from Vietnam will plant rubber trees and agro-industry crops, raise animals, and establish processing factories on 20,900 hectares of land in Kratie and Ratanakiri. Local companies will invest in rubber and agro-industry crops plantation on 16,900 hectares of land in Kratie.

    “Speaking on behalf of the Royal Government, the Minister of Agriculture welcomed the investments by all investors that respond to the Royal Government’s needs. He considered the official decisions and deals at this time as mutual beneficial contributions and joint development efforts for Cambodia to reduce poverty, to create employment, and to transfer agro-industrial techniques to Cambodian people.

    “The minister reminded all companies which have received the right to invest that they have to implement their activities according to the contracts. In the meantime, the ministry is ready to cooperate to ensure that the investment becomes successful.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5113-5114, 30-1.1-2.2010

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Monday, 1 February 2010

    Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #401, 30.1.2010

    • Human Rights Watch Backs Prime Minister’s Warning to [army and navy] Generals [over their illegal actions and corruption]

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2164-2165, 30-1.1-2.2010

    • An Armed Clash Broke Out at Point 532, Resulting in the Death of a Siamese [Thai] Soldier [Khmer soldiers claimed that Thai soldiers started shooting at Khmer soldiers first, when they tried to approach the Thai soldiers to ask why they came into Khmer territory]
    • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Draft of an Anti-Corruption Law Has an Article about Property Declaration [all officials, such as military and police officials and politicians, are required to declare their property, otherwise they will be punished; but he did not predict when this law will be approved]

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #593, 30.1.2010

    • The Ministry of Interior Said It Decided to Dismiss the Police Official [a second lieutenant] Oung Dara Who Raped a Woman in a Karaoke Parlor [already in October 2009 in Phnom Penh, by now his whereabouts are not known]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6871-6872, 30-1.1-2.2010

    • A Siamese [Thai] Student Who Tried to Enter the Preah Vihear Temple at Noon [illegally] Was Held
    • Two Robbers Robbed a Gold Seller, Taking Away 500 Chi of Gold [approx. US$66,500] and Riel 4 Million [approx. US$930 – Phnom Penh]
    • Swiss Musicians Played Music to Entertain Prisoners [in Kampot; this event was organized by the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, LICADHO]

    Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #101, 1.2.2010

    • The Start of a Car Manufacturing Company’s Operations [a branch of the Korean Hyundai Motor Company] Was Postponed [to be established in Koh Kong by the end of this year, as the construction had been affected by bad weather]

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5113-5114, 30-1.1-2.2010

    • Eight Companies will Invest in Agro-Industry Crops on More Than 50,000 Hectares of Land
    • A Mother [who had high blood pressure] and Her Son [who had mental disorders] Jointly Committed Suicide [by hanging, as they could not find money to support their lives – Phnom Penh]
    • A Woman Was Arrested for Driving a Car and Killing a Motor-Taxi Driver by Causing an Accident, and Injuring Another Person Seriously [Phnom Penh]

    Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1867, 1.2.2010

    • [The Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson and parliamentarian] Mr. Yim Sovann Encouraged [the Prime Minister] to Arrest Corrupt Senior Military Officials so that They Can Be Convicted

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