The Samrith Law Group Offers Free Defense Services to Poor People and Reduces Dependence on External Aid – Tuesday, 24.8.2010

Posted on 25 August 2010. Filed under: Week 679 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 679

Important Announcement

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

Thanks,

Norbert Klein
Editor of The Mirror

“They provide legal assistance, but they are not a non-government organizations. They accept work for profit, but they are not working just for money. The Samrith Law Group, the first institution in Cambodia providing legal services to serve public interests, is opening a new page for profit-based lawyers’ groups, saying that the reliance on funding from donors [for free legal services to the poor] can be reduced.

[This long article has been abbreviated – abbreviated sections are marked by three dots …]

“The manager of this lawyers’ group, established in 2008, Mr. Ith Meakthura, said, ‘We want to show to other lawyers in Cambodia that even though we are private lawyers, we can help poor communities.’

“As the Cambodian government cannot offer legal assistance services, this role is normally left to a handful of non-government organizations that depend on international aid agencies, such as USAID and AusAid to support their operations.

“Until early this year, two major organizations of Cambodia offering legal aid, the Cambodian Defenders Project and the Legal Aid of Cambodia [the web site http://www.lac.org.kh did not work at the time of this writing] were forced to restrict their expenditures after donors reduced their funding support…

“A senior lawyer of the Samrith Lawyers’ Group, Mr. Ly Ping, said that his group is using a service pricing system with different levels, depending on the capacity of clients to pay. That means they can also offer services with no payment charged. While the Samrith Lawyers’ Group receives also some funding support which is gladly received, they can gain income from their own work as the basis for their operations, in case no aid is provided…

“Mr. Ly Ping stressed, ‘This is our commitment. We want to help. It is an obligation. It is a general feeling of human beings. And we make enough money.’ He added that as for public interest activities, the Samrith Law Group handles also big cases which take a long time, maybe one year, to deal with one or two cases. Such work brings income through services such as consulting, research, and training for some of these private cases, and sometimes donors provide funds for some cases…

“Part of the reason leading to the creation of the Samrith Lawyers’ Group were limitations they saw in the system that relies on the support for non-government organizations. The Cambodian Defenders Project and the Legal Aid of Cambodia were established specifically to offer legal aid and related services, but for some other non-government organizations, legal aid is just one part of what they do.

“But to establish the budget of the Samrith Lawyers’ Group faces also obstacles. A major problem of the lawyers’ group are disputes, that happen between personal interests, on which they depend, and public interests, that they want to serve. Since in big land dispute cases they may face the rich and the powerful, the lawyers’ group has to ensure that they proceed carefully, to guarantee the further flow of personal cases to deal with, on which they depend.

“Mr. Ly Ping said, ‘Therefore, our strategy which cases to select is very important. We try to accept moderate cases. Such cases are not too big.’ According to the head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Mr. Ou Vireak, though the Samrith Lawyers’ Group has accomplished some initial success, one needs to see whether they can use sustainable choices to replace existing, traditional practices or not.

“Mr. Ou Vireak said, ‘It is too quick to say. I think that legal aid can help to a certain level, but the Samrith Lawyers’ Group has not yet played an important role in legal aid. The real question is always the bigger picture: can they make a change to the court systems in Cambodia?'” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #243, 24.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2335, 24.8.2010

  • [The former and now fugitive Thai prime minister] Thaksin Resigned from the Position as an Advisor of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and Thailand Will Send Its Ambassador Back to Cambodia Today
  • More Than Ten Luxury Cars Transported Ebony Wood across the Svay Leu District; Forestry Administration Officers Said They Were Not Aware of That [Siem Reap]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7042, 24.8.2010

  • More Than 200 Kilogram of Wild Animals [snakes, turtles, porcupines, and civets] Were Intercepted in Suong District [five people were held – Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3966, 24.8.2010

  • The Authorities Must Care about the Construction of Roads in Phnom Penh That Do Not Have Proper Culvert Systems to Drain Out the Rain Water That Floods the City When There Are Heavy Rains

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #38, 24.8.2010

  • A Sihanoukville Court Released a [police] Officer Who Raped an 11 Years-Old Girl [court officials could not be reached for comment on 23 August 2010]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Began to Construct a Five Stories Court Building

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #243, 24.8.2010

  • Names of Officials to Declare Their Assets Will Be Published [according to the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng]
  • Members of the Authorities [police] Suppressed Citizens Who Protested over Flooding, Resulting from the Boeng Kak Lake [sand filling] Development [they used shields and electric batons to disperse about 200 protesters who gathered in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence in Phnom Penh]
  • [About 300] Amleang Commune Residents Blocked a Road to Protest over Land Disputes [with the sugar company owned by Oknha and Senator Ly Yong Phat – Kompong Speu]
  • [Prince] Ranariddh: To Merge FUNCINPEC and the Nationalist Party Will Result in the Loss of Positions [according to legislation about political parties, if two parties merge, the Ministry of Interior will delete the former parties’ name from the list of registered parties]
  • The Samrith Law Group Offers Free Defense Services to Poor People and Reduces Dependence on Aid

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5284, 24.8.2010

  • Tax Officers Who Collect Excessive Amounts of Money from Road Tax Payments Face Dismissal [warned the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng]
  • There Are Only About 50 Hectares for Coffee Growing Left in Cambodia, and Coffee Growers Are Competing with Coffee from Laos and from Vietnam [before there were more than 500 hectares with coffee grown in Ratanakiri]

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Parliamentarians: Within Seventeen Years, Only Six Ministers Appeared to Make Clarifications in the Parliament – Saturday, 21.8.2010

Posted on 22 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: According to the first study by Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, since the general elections in 1993, or within 17 years, only six ministers appeared at the parliament to clarify questions. But government officials explained that, based on the regulations, there clarifications can be given both directly and verbally, or through letters.

“Findings from the study were shown publicly in a press conference on 20 August 2010. The team leader of the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, Mr. Son Chhay, said that since 1993, probably only six ministers showed up to respond to questions of parliamentarians in the parliament. That means also that within one 3 years period there was only one minister making clarifications. Until now, the Prime Minister has never come to answer to questions from parliamentarians following Article 96 of the Constitution. It is different from other democratic countries where prime ministers and government members regularly appear to give clarifications in parliament.

Article 96:

The deputies have the right to put a motion against the Royal Government. The motion shall be submitted in writing through the Chairman of the National Assembly.
The replies shall be given by one or several ministers depending on the matters related to the accountability of one or several ministers. If the case concerns the overall policy of the Royal Government, the Prime Minister shall reply in person.

The explanations by the ministers or by the Prime Minister shall be given verbally or in writing.

The explanations shall be provided within 7 days after the day when the question is received.

In case of verbal reply, the Chairman of the National Assembly shall decide whether to hold an open debate or not. If there is no debate, the answer of the minister or the Prime Minister shall be considered final. If there is a debate, the questioner, other speakers, the ministers, or the Prime Minister may exchange views within the time-frame not exceeding one session.

The National Assembly shall establish one day each week for questions and answers. There shall be no vote during any session reserved for this purpose.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that the procedures for questioning and for inviting ministers to appear are difficult. Sometimes, only two months after a request letter was sent there is a response, and sometimes it takes even up to one year. Some ministers do not care about answering questions from parliamentarians.

“A parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, presented a study about government members who did not properly adhere to the principles of the Constitution, which set the rules for questioning and answering to questions of parliamentarians through letters, or straight and verbally.

“Mr. Son Chhay said that 132 letters with questions were sent to members of the government in 2009, but they responded to only 23%, or 39 letters, from Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians. Within eight months of 2010, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians submitted 47 letters to the government, but only 15 letters received a response.

“Mr. Son Chhay added, ‘In 2009, we sent 24 letters to Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, and he responded to 13 letters. The Prime Minister answered more questions than others among the members of the government. The Minister of Interior, Mr. Sar Kheng, received 21 letters from parliamentarians in 2009 and he replied to 9 letters, and in 2010, he received 8 letters and he responded to 2.’

“Mr. Son Chhay went on to say that Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians sent 10 letters in 2009 and 2 more letters in 2010 to the Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Mr. Kim Kean Hor, but he did not respond at all. Also, the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Cham Prasidh, did not respond to questions from parliamentarians.

“Mr. Son Chhay stressed that submitting letters to request clarifications and to invite members of the governments, including the head of the government, to appear to clarify questions from parliamentarians in the parliament itself allow the government time to defend itself and to present its achievements in the past. This also helps to encourages the government to work with responsibility. ‘We aim to strengthen the implementation of democracy and to consolidate national institutions.’

“Also, another statement was released by Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians over the loss of their roles in the parliament of Cambodia. Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians voiced strong concern about the possible disappearance of democracy in Cambodia, which is affecting national development and social tranquility more seriously.

“Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians appeal to the ruling party to immediately check to fix all the limitations in order to appropriately implement the principles of multi-party democracy, as stated in the Constitution of 1993.

“Responding to the above mentioned concerns, a spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, said that to respond, there are two ways: responding by letter, or directly and verbally. So far, government officials frequently sent official letters, and sometimes they appeared directly in parliament to respond. He added that the government is formed by elections, and the Cambodian People’s Party, that won a massive support in the parliament, always rules the country following democracy and respecting the rights of the citizens, who are the voters. The government is not dictatorial or lawless. The government is on the right tract based on democracy. If the opposition party wants further reforms beyond this, it has to wait until it wins the elections.

“A senior member of the Cambodian People’s Party and a long standing member of the National Assembly, Mr. Cheam Yeap, said that the Cambodian People’s Party always obeys the laws and the Constitution since 1993. Also, [the president of the National Assembly] Samdech Heng Samrin, often allows more Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians than those from the Cambodian People’s Party to express their opinions along with the participation of national and international organizations that carefully observe the proceedings.

“In addition, during the press conference in the morning of 20 August 2010, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians announced that they have sent a letter to the US parliament and Senate to express their support for the United States of America adopting an amendment to financial legislation that requires US listed oil exploration companies operating in Cambodia to publicly disclose their expenditures and income. Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians consider that this law helps to promote transparency in the investment and in the management of income from mines, and in the oil and gas sectors in Cambodia.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5282, 21.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 21 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2333, 21.8.2010

  • Thailand Sent Letters to the Ten Members of ASEAN to Suggest How to Solve the Disputes with Cambodia Bilaterally
  • After an Electric Fault Occurred [producing toxic smoke] in the M.V Factory, 120 Workers Fainted [Kompong Chhnang]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7040, 21-22.8.2010

  • A Railroad Construction Company Asked the Authorities to Crack Down on the Stealing of Concrete Supports and of Iron Bars [Kampot]
  • The Ministry of Labor Warned It Will Take Legal Action against Companies with Irregularities in Sending Workers to Malaysia [according to a meeting between the Ministry of Labor and 31 companies sending workers abroad]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3964, 21-22.8.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party] Parliamentarians and a Human Rights Organization [the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] Expressed Regret over the Verdict against Chi Kraeng District Residents [nine citizens were sentenced to 3 years imprisonment over a land dispute, but they will serve only 17 months and the rest will be suspended – Siem Reap]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #36, 21.8.2010

  • The Vietnamese President [Mr. Nguyen Minh Triet [Nguyễn Minh Triết]] Will Visit Cambodia [from 26 to 28 August 2010 in response to an invitation by the Khmer King]
  • Cambodia Does Not Accept a Bilateral Solution with Thailand [according the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Koy Kuong]
  • Only One of the Students [countrywide] Gets an A Level, and 81.90% Passed [or 87,561 students among the 106,908 candidates passed the Grade 12 examinations]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5282, 21.8.2010

  • Parliamentarians: Within Seventeen Years, Only Six Ministers Appeared to Make Clarifications in the Parliament
  • Ebony [2.377 cubic meters] and Wild Animals [about 166 kg, including snakes, big lizards, and turtles] Were Intercepted at the Chrey Thom Border Crossing [for export to Vietnam; no persons are yet caught – Kandal]
  • Scientific Evidence Shows that Chemicals Are Still Found in Food Sold at the Markets [affecting the health of the consumers – studies conducted by the Royal Academy]

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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

Note:

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

Norbert Klein

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

“Mr. Chhum Socheat said, ‘It is an annual census to find out the number of real the soldiers and of the children of those soldiers, and to cut out the names of soldiers who have retired or who died, or are not present anymore.

“Under the arrangements for the census, which started last week, all soldiers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are required to show up at their command posts. The soldiers will there be asked to identify themselves by showing themselves and their ID numbers, as well as to specify the number of children they have at present in the lists.

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

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

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

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

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2299, 13.7.2010

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

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7006, 13.7.2010

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

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3930, 13.7.2010

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

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

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

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5248, 13.7.2010

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

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The Ministry of Interior Rejected Rong Chhun’s Request to Disclose the Number of Immigrants – Friday, 11.6.2010

Posted on 12 June 2010. Filed under: Week 668 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

“Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Interior will not respond to a request from Mr. Rong Chhun, a representative of the Cambodian Watchdog Council [he is also the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, surprisingly not mentioned in this article], for a public information about the number of immigrants in Cambodia.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, General Khieu Sopheak, told Deum Ampil by phone on Thursday, 10 June 2010, that the Ministry of Interior does not have the right to respond to Mr. Rong Chhun’s request; the Ministry of Interior is an institution under the administration of the fourth term Royal Government that has the role to serve the citizens.

“A letter signed by Mr. Rong Chhun, a representative of the Cambodian Watchdog Council, to the Ministry of Interior and the Deum Ampil newspaper on Thursday morning says that the Cambodian Watchdog Council noticed that the number of immigrants in Cambodia keeps increasing from day to day, which worries Khmer citizens.

“The letter adds that the Cambodian Watchdog Council asked for information about the number of legal and illegal Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants living in Cambodia. The Ministry of Interior does not broadly publish the number of immigrants and does not have clear procedures to be taken against illegal immigrants living in Cambodia.

“General Khieu Sopheak responded to the letter, saying, ‘The Ministry of Interior is not under the command of that council!’

“He added that the Ministry of Interior is controlled by the fourth Royal Government under Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen as the head of government, which is obliged to serve the citizens. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior does not have the right to answer to the above request, and he asked Mr. Rong Chhun to look at himself and to see how much rights he has.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #501, 11.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 11 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #501, 11.6.2010

  • The Ministry of Interior Rejected Rong Chhun’s Request to Disclose the Number of Immigrants
  • A Woman [the wife of a military general] Was Threatened with a Gun Pointed at Her Head [by two robbers] During the Day, and More Than US$10,000 Was Taken Away [Tuol Kork, Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2272, 11.6.2010

  • Six Men and Women Were Arrested and 1,964 Drug Tablets Were Confiscated [Banteay Meanchey]
  • Many Ethnic Phnoung People Have Diarrhea, because of Alleged Lack of Sanitation [Mondolkiri]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #778, 11.6.2010

  • The World Bank Announced to Open Investigations over Corruption in the Implementation of Land Registration and the Issuing of Land Titles in Boeng Kak [financially supported by the WB]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #679, 11.6.2010

  • The Cambodian Watchdog Council Asked [the Ministry of Interior] to Disclose the Number of Immigrants in Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6979, 11.6.2010

  • [More than 100] Citizens from Chamkar Leu and Stung Trong Districts Came to Ask for Intervention from the Governor over a Land Dispute [with two companies – Kompong Cham]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #191, 10.6.2010

  • The Ministry of Information Asked Advertising Companies to Apply for Licenses or They Will Be Fined
  • The Appeals Court Dismissed [Russia’s] Request to Extradite a Russian Man [Alexander Trofimov, a tycoon] Who Had Sex with Cambodian Children [according to a confidential memo of the court; he is still involved with three other court cases in Canmbodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5221, 11.6.2010

  • The Son of the Deputy Head of the Stung Treng Police Office Drove a Car Loaded with Wood [as his car was chased by the authorities, he finally drove it] into a Police Station [and ran away over the rice fields behind the police station – Stung Treng]
  • China Will Open a Branch of a Bank [the Bank of China] in Cambodia Soon [according to the Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia]

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Improving Communication by Communicating – Sunday, 6.6.2010

Posted on 7 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

The major event during the week was the meeting of the Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum, which brought more than 100 representatives from donor countries and from international financial organizations to Cambodia, to meet with representatives of the Cambodian government. One newspaper quoted a Cambodian official as saying, before the meeting: “Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected.” As expected! On the other hand, just days before this meeting, a group of local NGOs released a study with a critical call to the donor community, suggesting that donors should press the government to fulfill agreed requirements carrying out major reforms in the country and to apply Joint Monitoring Indicators defined in the past. Global Witness, the UK based monitoring agency supported by 17 trusts and foundations, 4 development organizations from different countries, and 7 governments, suggested that the donors should take “a coordinated stand against the horribly subverted dynamic of aid in Cambodia in which their country’s money props up the basic functions of the state, leaving an elite free to exploit the state’s assets for personal profit.”

There are voices saying that the pledge of about US$1 billion is a sign that the donors don’t care about critical statements – either deploring the fact of the pledges realize “as expected,” or taking the pledges as a sign of a flat endorsement of the Cambodian government’s policies. Both these opinions are wrong.

To publish critical evaluations of aid effectiveness some days before such a meeting helps to get broad attention. But to expect that it would greatly affect the meeting, assumes that the international donor delegates arrive to sit around the table and then decide on the spot how much to pledge. They all come with the results of a year’s deliberations at home, considering information and opinion gathered and discussed with others, and decisions prepared towards the meeting.

Both sides then, in the formal meeting, share their well considered long range statements:

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The aid provided by development partners is a very important contribution for the development of Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will use the aid effectively, adding that the government will continue to solve major problems such as corruption, land ownership, and judicial reform.”

“The World Bank country director, Ms. Annette Dixon, said, representing the donors, that she lauded the development of Cambodia since the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum held in December 2008, but the progress of the government is still limited in terms of its work to improve strategic planing and to manage aid. She said, ‘It is important for the government to take the lead in aligning resources to development priorities.’”

That is more than a hint that the donors think that available resources are not aligned to development priorities.

What went on during the closed-door meetings may have been more mutually engaging – but the most important things will happen – or not happen – during the course of the year which starts now towards the next meeting. And it will depend on the monitoring of ongoing events and the related discussions – including the regular follow-up in the press and by government and non-government agencies’ observations.

This is a field of hard work: to observe, to analyze, to compare, to speak up, to share – regularly and consistently.

There will be questions requiring answers, and if the questions do not get answers easily, they have to be repeated and made more precise and receive follow-up, maybe again and again. This is the role of the public, and especially of the media. That is why the press is also called “the fourth power” in a state – independent also, like the three others: the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, mutually separate, as Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia requires.

The Mirror tries to contribute to this important process.

One element of regular surprise is information like the following, which we carried during this week:

  • Oknha Ly Say Kheang, a Big Trader Destroying the Forest, Appeared in Sihanoukville after Having Escaped from Arrest for a While [he was spotted driving a luxury car and relaxing in Sihanoukville]

A fugitive from prison. Was he arrested?

  • More Than 60 Persons [police, military police, soldiers, as well as a prosecutor, a commune chief and a village chief] Surrounded a Site where a Military Captain is Storing Luxury Grade Wood [seizing 922 pieces of wood, but the owner of the wood has not been arrested]

Why 60 persons for one suspect? And he was not arrested?

  • The Authorities Seek to Arrest Citizens over a Land Dispute [with the Heng Development Company; two persons were arrested for inciting villagers to go to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence]

“Every Khmer citizens shall be equal before the law” says Article 31 of the Constitution. But some get arrested and others not! So many cries for help trust in the highest authority of the government, carrying pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady. When will this confidence wear out if there are too many disappointments?

  • The Government Declared to Fight Corruption [Prime Minister Hun Sen said that there are only a handful of corrupt officials, and the government will encourage other officials to fight corruption together]

We will read it in the press.

And here is a variety of related observations:

An interesting source of income for the state reported:

  • Within Three Weeks, Nearly Riel 2 Million [approx. US$470] Has Been Charged from Those Throwing Away Rubbish in Public Places

Not much, less than US$500. There is no report how much was collected from new, big cars driving around town without neither temporary nor permanent license plates. Almost every day when I am driven around town on a motorcycle-taxi, I see some. Probably there was nothing to report because nothing is being collected from them.

The President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin Does Not Allow Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians to Visit and Monitor the Putting of Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border; the Sam Rainsy Party claims that the marker is planted on Khmer territory, while the government denies it]

Members of the National Assembly, elected by the people (The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country. All power belongs to the people – says Article 51 of the Constitution), need a permission before they can travel inside of the country? Article 40 of the Constitution sound different: Citizens’ freedom to travel, far and near, and legal settlement shall be respected. We did not reed that the parliamentarians claimed this Constitutional right.

The result:

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Were Prevented from Visiting and Checking a Border Marker [in Takeo, as their visit was blocked by more than 30 armed forces and more than 50 local citizens]

And finally a dilemma:

  • The Opposition Party President Sam Rainsy Plans to Go to the Philippines to Meet with Parliamentarians and Democrats in Asia [at the end of this month, to welcome the newly elected president of the Philippines when he takes office]

Probably there will be many international guests there, especially from the ASEAN region. Among them politicians from Cambodia. But Mr. Sam Rainsy is facing the court in Cambodia, though he is abroad to avoid arrest – but he is free in France, and he is free to travel.

Could another politician from the ASEAN region, the former Thai Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra, also go to the Philippines? Maybe not. There is a search warrant for him from Interpol, and the Thai government is now in the process to send arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin through Interpol to 187 countries, which makes it more and more difficult to travel anywhere. Except to Cambodia:

  • Cambodia Expressed [through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] the Position Not to Extradite Thaksin to Thailand

He was convicted by a Thai court for corruption – for arranging the sale of valuable Bangkok land without bidding and at a low price, to his wife. But he left the country – “temporarily for about a week,” after paying bail – and did never return.

Everybody is equal before the law? Not quite.

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Officials: Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected – Thursday, 3.6.2010

Posted on 4 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Government officials and donors met on Wednesday in Phnom Penh for the [third] Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum. During the forum, the donors appealed to the government to speed up key reforms tied to the provision of aid. More than 100 representatives from donor countries and from international financial organizations attend the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum with plans to grant aid before the meeting ends on Thursday. Officials of the Cambodian government expect that the government will get the envisaged aid of US$1 billion.

“During the speech to open the forum, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will use the aid effectively, adding that the government will continue to solve major problems such as corruption, land ownership, and judicial reform. He said, ‘The Royal Government has made its utmost effort to firmly and deeply implement various reform programs and consider them a “life or death” issue for Cambodia.’

“The World Bank country director, Ms. Annette Dixon, said, representing the donors, that she lauded the development of Cambodia since the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum held in December 2008, but the progress of the government is still limited in terms of its work to improve strategic planing and to manage aid. She said, ‘It is important for the government to take the lead in aligning resources to development priorities,’

“During the closed-door meeting on Wednesday, the delegations discussed the National Strategic Development Plan Update for 2009-2013 of the government, as well as the policies to ensure the macroeconomic stability during this time of a global economic crisis. In December 2008, Cambodia received pledges of US$951.5 million, compared to US$650 million in June 2007.

“The spokesperson of the Royal Government, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, said after the meeting on Wednesday that the meeting went smoothly and there were not any objections from donors. He said, ‘I don’t know how much money the government will receive from donor countries this year, but I estimate it will reach our expectations.’

“Also, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Keat Chhon, said that the aid tendency keeps increasing, and the requirement of the government will rise to as much as US$1 billion in 2010.

“The Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum has been analyzed carefully in the past few weeks, and local and international non-government organizations called on the donors to press the government to fulfill the agreed requirements carrying out major reforms in the country and to apply the Joint Monitoring Indicators. Fifteen local non-government organizations said in a document released on Tuesday, ‘It is not enough to throw money at problems and hope the ruling party will act in the interest of the people.’

“A report released on Monday by Global Witness suggested that the donors should take ‘a coordinated stand against the horribly subverted dynamic of aid in Cambodia in which their country’s money props up the basic functions of the state, leaving an elite free to exploit the state’s assets for personal profit.’

“An advisor of the government, Mr. Raoul Jennar, said during the forum that the government and the donors have been successful in cooperating to create new laws, and he hopes that the donors will provide strong support during the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum. He said, ‘The government has made many achievements in recent years where more than 260 laws have been adopted during the previous decade. The problem is that development needs highly skilled human resources; this is a problem that Cambodia is facing.’

“Other participants said that the government should care more about the involvement by civil society rather than focusing on foreign policy makers.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #185, 3.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 3 June 2010

Areyathor, Vol.17, #1442, 3-4.6.2010

  • 2,000 Workers Strike in Kompong Chhnang [against their shoe factory owner, who is forcing them to work overtime]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #494, 3.6.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Are Still Defiant and Want to Visit the Border Marker Number 270 [in Takeo though the president of the National Assembly did not give them a permission for this visit]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2265, 3.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Aid provided by Development Partners Is a Very Important Contribution for the Development of Cambodia
  • The Cambodian and the Indonesian Governments Signed an Agreement to Mutually Waive Visa Fees for Normal Passport

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #672, 3.6.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson] Yim Sovann: Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Will Visit the Border Marker Number 270 Today

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6972, 3.6.2010

  • Ms. Mu Sochua Said that She Will Not Pay the Fine of Riel 16.5 Million [approx. US$4,000] in the Case She Lost [against Prime Minister Hun Sen over defamation], but She Would Rather Go to Jail [the Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Appeals Court]
  • A Grenade Was Thrown at a Dancing Event, Resulting in One Death and Thirteen Injured People [perpetrators are not yet identified – Oddar Meanchey]
  • The Japanese Prime Minister [Mr. Hatoyama Yukio] Resigned from His Position after Staying in Office Less Than One Year

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3896, 3.6.2010

  • The National Bank of Cambodia Bought Riel Notes with US$3 Million to Support the Dwindling Value of the Riel [the present exchange rate is approx. US$1 to Riel 4,260]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #185, 3.6.2010

  • Officials: Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected
  • [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Hor Namhong: Cambodia Is too Lazy to Respond to Thailand over an Extradition Request for Mr. Thaksin [confirming that Cambodia will not honor an arrest warrant from Interpol to extradite Mr. Thaksin, though the Thai government plans to send it through Interpol to 187 countries]
  • Disabled People [through 150 representatives of 620 families of veterans from Kompong Cham] Protested in Front of the Prime Minister’s Residence [in Phnom Penh] over a Land Dispute [asking for intervention by Mr. Hun Sen to distribute 4,000 hectares of land to the ‘Association Cripple Development’ in Kratie, because on 24 April 2010, the provincial authorities claimed that the land belongs to private companies]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5224, 3.6.2010

  • Cambodia Denied It Has Provided Training Shelter in Cambodia for Thai Red-Shirt Armed Militants [a Thai military commander had commented that Thai red-shirt armed militants had been in Anlong Veng district, Oddar Meanchey]
  • The Asian Development Bank Grants US$2.2 Million for a Project to Assess the Impact of Legal Procedures of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council

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The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee Appealed to the Armed Forces to Protect the Interest of Citizens More Than That of Traders – Wednesday, 2.6.2010

Posted on 3 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Through a press conference on Tuesday, 2 June 2010, groups of civil society organizations in Cambodia, including the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, the NGO Forum on Cambodia, and the Cambodian Housing Rights Task Force, appealed to the armed forces to protect the interest of citizens, and not that of private companies and traders.

“In the press conference also communities that are affected by land grabbing by companies participated. Also citizens of the Boeng Kak lake community that are facing land grabbing and eviction by the Shukaku company of Senator and Oknha Lao Meng Khin from the ruling party, citizens of the Amleang commune in the Thpong district, Kompong Speu, who are vigorously protesting against land grabbing by the Kompong Speu Sugar and the Phnom Penh Sugar companies of Senator and Oknha Ly Yong Phat from the ruling party, and citizens from Romeas Haek district in Svay Rieng, who suffer from land grabbing by the Peam Cheang Rubber Plantation company, participated.

“A representative of the Boeng Kak lake community in Phnom Penh, Ms. Huot Mony, told the story that has led to violations and intimidations, to grab their land and houses by the Shukaku Inc. company, where many citizens are staff of the Prime Minister’s advisory committees that came to settle there since 1980. In 1993, the number of citizens in the area increased. On 6 April 2006, the Phnom Penh Municipality summoned citizens to meet at the Srah Chok pagoda, informing them that all the citizens in the Boeng Kak lake area would receive land titles – but it then became quiet.

“What makes the Boeng Kak lake residents feel very disappointed and hurt is that the notification of the Phnom Penh Municipality, dated 6 February 2006, said that the Boeng Kak lake area is leased for 99 years for US$79.2 million, with the rate of US$0.60 per square meter, to the Shukaku Inc. company, to develop the area of 133 hectares, where 40 hectares are lake surface.

“Through this agreement, 4,252 families in the Boeng Kak lake area in the Srah Chok commune, Daun Penh district, have been seriously affected by the dredging of sand by the company to fill in the lake. This Boeng Kak lake representative added that the company had laid sand dredging pipes that cause the posts of their houses to become unstable, and they had ordered the authorities to threaten and to prevent citizens from repairing their houses. Some families took out their belongings and the inhabitants moved away, as they were afraid of the danger that their houses might collapse.

“Many problems had happened to the Boeng Kak lake residents – some are concerned that their houses might be burnt down, people might get electric shocks, or their houses might collapse. Sobbing while she was speaking, this representative called on the international community to think about the poor citizens who face evictions, before they decide to grant aid to the Cambodian government.

“Also, a representatives of citizens from the Kompong Speu community in the Amleang commune said that their condition is not much different from what the representative of the Boeng Kak lake area had mentioned.

“This representative said that the Amleang commune residents had worked on their rice fields since before the Khmer Rouge regime, except during the Khmer Rouge regime, and then after 1979, they continued to live on their land, doing farming. Just early this year, Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s company had ordered machinery to clear their farmland and to ban them from farming on their land.

“Facing such a situation leads to serious disappointments, and the activities of the government and of these companies are not a sign of poverty alleviation, but they add a heavier burden on the citizens. In the meantime, it was noticed that when protests against land grabbing took place, private companies often used armed forces to intimidate the victimized citizens. Some cases led to shootings at the citizens, but the perpetrators were not brought to be punished.

“Non-government organizations raised six important demands to the government:

  1. The citizens must be involved in all developments.
  2. There must be proper compensation and agreements when dealing with land disputes.
  3. There must be more effective land dispute mechanisms.
  4. Arrests of citizens over land disputes must be stopped.
  5. The government should be involved in solving land disputes, based on proper procedures.
  6. Armed forces should protect the interests of citizens, and not that of powerful traders.

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3895, 2.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #493, 2.5.2010

  • Land Disputes Increased in 2010, though Land Prices Dropped [according to the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee – more than 80 organizations were involved in 236 cases in 2009, compared to the corresponding period in 2010, there is an increase by 34.3%]
  • More Than 200,000 [Cambodian] Workers Are Working Illegally in Thailand [and seriously suffer from the exploitation of their labor – according to the Ministry of Interior]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2264, 2.5.2010

  • The United States of America Increases the Visa Fees to the USA from 4 June 2010 [from US$131 to US$140 for non-immigrant visas]
  • The King Issued a Royal Decree to Finalize the Appointments of Four Officials, and to Nominate Five Others [as advisors and under-secretaries of state; all of them are officials from the quota of FUNCINPEC]
  • The Number of Traffic Accidents within Five Months of 2010 Decreased, but the Number of Deaths Rose [there were 2,626 cases in 2010 which dropped by 145, but 804 people were killed, an increase by 11 deaths]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #671, 2.5.2010

  • [President of the National Assembly] Heng Samrin Does Not Allow Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians to Visit and Monitor the Putting of Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border; the Sam Rainsy Party claims that the marker is planted on Khmer territory, while the government denies it]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6971, 2.5.2010

  • Traffic Accidents in 2009 Made the Government Waste US$248 Million in 2009 [1,717 people were killed and 7,022 others suffered from serious injuries]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3895, 2.5.2010

  • The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee Appealed to the Armed Forces to Protect the Interest of Citizens More Than That of Traders

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #184, 2.5.2010

  • Land Disputes Might Be a Hot Agenda in the Meeting between Cambodia and Donors Today
  • Cambodia Expressed the Position Not to Extradite [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin to Thailand [while the Thai government plans to send arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin to 187 countries]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5213, 2.5.2010

  • The Forests in Oddar Meanchey Might Bring in US$30 Million from the Voluntary Carbon Market
  • A Tropical Strom Hit Two Districts in Siem Reap and Destroyed 373 Houses
  • Samdech Hun Sen Called on All National Institutions to Strongly Pay Attention to Children [he said so during the 61th anniversary of the International Children’s Day]
  • The National Assemblies of Cambodia and of Iran Encourage the Governments of Both Countries to Establish Embassies
  • Within Three Weeks, Nearly Riel 2 Million [approx. US$470] Has Been Charged from Those Throwing Away Rubbish in Public Places

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The Club of Cambodian Journalists and the European Union Cooperate to Encourage the Free Flow of Information in Cambodia – Tuesday, 1.6.2010

Posted on 2 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Phnom Penh: The Club of Cambodian Journalists and the European Commission Delegation to Cambodia jointly organized a workshop about public relations with the aim to strengthen press relations with other institutions, to foster the free flow of information in Cambodia.

“There were more than 20 participants from organizations supported by the European Union and the Senate that attend this important workshop.

“The Charge d’Affairs of the European Commission Delegation to Cambodia, Mr. Rafael Dochao Morena, said during the workshop that ‘Public relations are very important in delivering information to the public and to strengthen relations between institutions and the public. The participants in this workshop will gain knowledge about basis concepts of public relations.’

“The Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, pointed out the importance of the workshop, saying that it is a field that the Royal Government of Cambodia supports, in order to ensure press freedom.

“This 5-day workshop, from 31 May to 4 June 2010, aims mainly at encouraging the free publication of information to serve the public interest. Participants will learn theory and actual experiences for effective press relations. Through the presentations of many speakers, experienced in both public relations and the press, participants will gain basic knowledge to help public relations officials or information officials from different organizations and institutions to fulfill their duties more effectively with the press in Cambodia.

“The president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, Mr. Pen Samitthy, said that some organizations and institutions complain about their difficulties in working with journalists. Some criticize that the press does not help publish information about their activities, while journalists complain that they lack access to information that they should cover, for their publications to the public. He said, ‘Because of such complaints, the Club of Cambodian Journalists sees that there is a gap of understanding between public relations officials of different organizations and institutions on one side, and journalists on the other.’ He added that everybody must know clearly that the priority mission of journalists is to publish information that serves the public interest, but journalists cannot be propagandists who serve the interests of specific organizations or institutions. It is the duty of public relations officials or information officers to encourage the publication of activities of their organizations or institutions. For the benefit of the press, the workshop aims at organizations and institutions to have their own information officers in order to effectively offer information to journalists. This is also the goal of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, always encouraging the appointment of spokespersons at many institutions to ensure public access to information.

“The Club of Cambodian Journalists is an independent organization, created to serve the interests of journalists and to protect them, as well as to promote press freedom and to strengthen journalism in Cambodia.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5212, 1.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #492, 1.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Chinese Government Talks Less but Does Much
  • Two People Died and Five Were Wounded, and Many Houses Were Destroyed in Siem Reap [by a rainstorm]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2263, 1.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Inaugurated the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Prek Kdam [across the Tonle Sap river – Kandal]
  • A Family [husband, wife, and their son] Were Convicted to Serve 20 Years in Prison for Killing a Kompong Thom Fishery Official [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #670, 1.6.2010

  • [The acting president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm Said That China Provides Aid to Cambodia without Setting Any Conditions, but China Receives Concession Land to Exploit Mineral Resources from Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6970, 1.6.2010

  • Children Faced Violation in 2009: There Were 278 Cases of Human Rights Violations against Children, 209 Cases Were Rape [according to the Khmer Census League and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), announced during the International Children Day]
  • [About 300] Ou Russey Market Vendors Asked [the Prime Minister] to Restrain the Roth Sensopheap Company [as this company, the market administrator, requires them to pay many types of fees, affecting their livelihood]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3894, 1.6.2010

  • [The Sam Rainy party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann Said that the Government Should Provide Concession Land with Contracts from 40 to 50 Years Only [so far, contracts for concession land were mostly for up to 99 years], and He Does Not Want to See that Contracts Lead to the Mistreatments of Citizens and to Land Disputes

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #183, 1.6.2010

  • Cambodia Needs More Than US$6 Billion for a Five-Year National Development Plan [from 2009 to 2013; according to a decision of the National Assembly]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5212, 1.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Wants to Hold Military Exercises to Show [257] Military Trucks Donated by China [worth Yuan 100 million [approx. US$15 million]; this aid will be delivered on 18 June 2010]
  • 155 Families Filed Lawsuits against the An Marady Rubber Plantation Company after They Received Notifications that the Company Will Evict Them from Their Village [Kompong Cham]
  • The Club of Cambodian Journalists and the European Union Cooperate to Encourage the Free Flow of Information in Cambodia

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Eliminating Illegal Settlements – Monday, 31.5.2010

Posted on 1 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“On Friday the Council of Ministers approved a circular for dealing with illegal settlements on state land.

“The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, said on Sunday, ‘The circular will help citizens and the government to eliminate anarchic settlements on state land in populated areas, in cities, and at public places [like parks, pedestrian lanes, etc.]. In the future we will eradicate illegal settlements at public places.’

“The circular aims at resolving problems at temporary settlements, also called anarchic constructions, that are built on state land, which results in the loss of road space for traveling, or there is no sanitation. The circular advises the local authorities to provide data about the actual number of such illegal settlements and the number of families, producing plans of these anarchic constructions in order to find solutions, to organize infrastructure and public services to support the life of the people.

“A legal expert of the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions [which works in 20 different countries around the world], Mr. Pen Sithorn, said that the new circular is not bad, but it depends on whether or not the implementation will involve also non-government organizations and the affected communities. He said, ‘The circular says it depends on the government what kind of participation from different sides they will allow.’

Note:

Additional information from the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions:

“A senior official of the Cambodia Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Chan Soveth, said on Sunday that the circular is good, but its enforcement is not as good as the contents stated in the circular, which makes people live in ever worse conditions. He added, ‘The government evicts people and accepts coordination from the authorities. They confiscate people’s land and deliver it to the rich and to companies, providing little compensation to people. Thousands of citizens have been affected by the policy of the government to force citizens to move to remote areas.’ He went on to say that even though citizens are living on state land, they have been living there for years before the land law was approved. Therefore, they should be offered solutions through the provision of new areas with proper living conditions.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #142, 31.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 31 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #4, 30-31.5.2010

  • A Car Loaded with Paddy Rice Was Intercepted – there Were More Than 800 Kilogram of Turtles Hidden in It, to Be Exported to Vietnam [Kandal]
  • Disputes [through the exchange of statements quoted in the press] between [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit and [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Creates Political Tension in Siam [Thailand]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2262, 30-31.5.2010

  • The Thai Authorities Released [207] Khmer Citizens Who Had Been Accused of Possessing Explosive Materials
  • Construction Workers on the Bokor Mountain Had a Car Accident while Getting Ahead of another Car – Two Died and Twenty Eight Others Were Injured

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #773, 31.5.2010

  • Oknha Ly Say Kheang, a Big Trader Destroying the Forest, Appeared in Sihanoukville after Having Escaped from Arrest for a While [he was arrested in late March 2010 over illegal wood trading and keeping some in storage. He was spotted driving a luxury car and relaxing in Sihanoukville]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #669, 30-31.5.2010

  • The Ministry of Interior Allows a Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian to Visit Ms. Meas Srey and Mr. Prum Chea [jailed for uprooting Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6969, 31.5.2010

  • More Than 60 Persons [police, military police, soldiers, as well as a prosecutor, a commune chief and a village chief] Surrounded a Site where a Military Captain is Storing Luxury Grade Wood [seizing 922 pieces of wood, but the owner of the wood has not been arrested – Svay Rieng]
  • Cambodia Condemned the Persons Who Planted a Sea Mine [attacking a South Korean navy ship, killing 46 sailors] – They Cause Instability on the Korean Peninsular

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3893, 31.5.2010

  • Forced Evictions are against the Constitution and Cannot Be Legalized – Those Who Criticize This Should Not Be Stopped

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #142, 31.5.2010

  • Eliminating Illegal Settlements
  • The Authorities Seek to Arrest Citizens over a Land Dispute [with the Heng Development Company; two persons were arrested for inciting villagers go to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s resident]
  • A US Company [Elixir Gaming Technologies] Received a License to Open a Casino in Takeo [this company plans to start constructing a casino late next year, spending US$8 to 10 million]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #51, 30-31.5.2010

  • An Environmental Officials: The Sesan Hydro Electric Dam II [planned to be constructed late next year] Will Not Flood Ratanakiri [but it might affect only four communes in Stung Treng]
  • Police Arrested a Man Who Raped His Three Step Daughters over a long Time [aged from 12 to 17 – Siem Reap]

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Cambodia Rejected Report of Amnesty International – Friday, 28.5.2010

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

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

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

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

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

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

Note:

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

Amnesty International Report 2010

Amnesty International Report 2010

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

Background

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

Forced evictions

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

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

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

Human rights defenders

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

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

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

International justice

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

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

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

Freedom of expression –

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

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

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

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

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

Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

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

Violence against women and girls

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

Amnesty International visits/reports

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 28 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #489, 28.5.2010

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

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2260, 28.5.2010

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

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

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

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6967, 28.5.2010

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

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3819, 28.5.2010

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

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

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

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5209, 28.5.2010

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

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

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