Cambodia as a Member of the International Community of States – Sunday, 11.10.2009

Posted on 12 October 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 633 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 633

Serious questions surfaced during the week about the meaning of the consequences when a state has resolved to sign international covenants, and has entered into certain agreements of international cooperation.

The discussion of the draft Penal Code in the National Assembly, during several days on the way towards its adoption, revealed some surprising elements – some of a formalistic nature, others relating to substantive understandings.

Article 88 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia states clearly and simply: “The National Assembly sessions shall be held in public.”

When, on 6 October 2009, crucial draft articles were to be discussed, two members of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia were asked to leave the observation gallery. This was later explained to be a measure related to security concerns – but the same persons had attended the meeting unencumbered during previous days. – And it is remembered that ambassadors and several embassy staff members from different countries were prevented on 23 June 2009 to enter and to observe the session, when the immunity of a member of an opposition party was to be discussed.

The present debate took place several days after Dr. Surya Subedi, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental UN body where 47 member states are represented, shared his first report to the Council on 1 October 2009. When Mr. Yim Sovann, a member of the National Assembly from the Sam Rainsy Party, referred to Dr. Subedi’s concern about legal provisions for the freedom of expression, Mr. Ai Khan, a member of the National Assembly from the Cambodian People’s Party, is reported to have said: “I do not know who Subedi is… he does not understand about the words criticizing, scorning, and defaming… I want to notify H.E. Yim Sovann: Do not raise a foreigner’s ideas for discussion here.” Mr. Cheam Yeap, a member of the National Assembly also from the Cambodian People’s Party, had also been reported to respond to a reference to Dr. Subedi as “a foreigner’s request concerning this.” And Mr. Chheang Vun, the chairperson of the Assembly’s Commission on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Media and Information, rejected Dr. Subedi’s statements as a violation of Cambodia’s sovereignty.

Dr. Subedi had not been speaking just “as a foreigner,” in fulfilling a mandate given to him by the UN Human Rights Council. In response to having been told that all Cambodian court actions had been conducted in accordance with Cambodian laws, he had not spoken to violate Cambodia’s sovereignty, but stated that he was “concerned that the laws in question themselves fell short of the standards required by international human rights treaties and practice, and that Cambodia’s judiciary was taking a restrictive approach in interpreting these laws, ultimately leading to excessive restrictions on freedom of expression.” Dr. Subedi is just expressing what is assumed internationally and in general: when a state accedes to international human rights treaties, it is assumed that they will be adhered to – they are not “a foreigner’s opinion.” They are part of multilateral intergovernmental agreements being clarified.

The discussion of the draft Penal Code in the National Assembly showed that by Saturday, 10 October 2009, 525 of the 672 articles had been approved – without a single change, in spite of the many questions for clarification, or suggestions for changes by Assembly members of the opposition parties. This absolute unity of opinion of the deputies of the Cambodian People’s Party is at least surprising in view of Article 77 of the Constitution: “The deputies in the National Assembly shall represent the entire Khmer people, not only Khmers from their constituencies. Any imperative mandate shall be nullified.” Not one of them seems to have thought to pronounce a different position from the majority. And this while they are – by the Constitution! – not bound by any “imperative mandate” ordering them what position to take. It is no surprise that Ms. Mu Sochua, a member of an opposition party, asked in view of the way the debate did not lead to the slightest change of the draft, why to spend more time in such kind of discussion: “I think we should just put a stamp on it.”

Another serious conflict of understanding, difficult to solve, is the warning by the Prime Minister, “that the government will not accept, or even stop receiving foreign aid, if aid is linked with conditions. Recently, the government has canceled the assistance of the World Bank for a land registration program.”

This is obviously a double threat: not only a warning towards the members of parliament in the countries which have to discuss and to negotiate how much money from the taxpayers of their country they will make available for which purposes and under which conditions. As a person from ADHOC pointed out, it is a threat also against those people of Cambodia who might benefit from such international aid.

In the case of the World Bank, their conditions were actually what both sides – the World Bank and the Cambodian government – had agreed upon together, about a Land Management and Administration Program: under which conditions Cambodians living on a certain piece of land for a certain period of time could get an ownership title for this land. But when the World Bank discovered and raised their observation, that the agreement is not applied evenly, the Prime Minister canceled the cooperation. The Program was applied mostly in rural areas, but people in certain settlements in the city do not get land titles, but are “evicted” or, to use the new wording of the government, are “temporarily relocated” (which often involved massive violence).

The aid, of which the Prime Minister is reported to be tired, relate to “linking it with conditions about the respect of human rights, the solution of land disputes, resettlement of the poor, and especially the creation of an anti-corruption law, an old intent of Cambodia,” as a newspaper explained.

Various pronouncements of the Prime Minister over the years had stated clearly that these are also his own political goals, when he said that a new farmers’ revolution might happen if land grabbing continues, and it is the Prime Minister himself who had announced, over the years, the planned creation of an anti-corruption law.

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Tuesday, 27.5.2008: Hun Sen Announced to Give Golden Handcuffs to Prince Norodom Ranariddh and to Invite Him to Prey Sar Prison

Posted on 28 May 2008. Filed under: Week 562 | Tags: , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 562

“According to Article 46 of the Criminal Code, the lawsuit between Prince Ranariddh and the Funcinpec Secretary-General Mr. Nhek Bun Chhay, accusing the Prince of abusing the confidence, motivated Prince Ranariddh to flee the country to stay with the ‘phantom fox’ [his partner Uk Phalla, whom the Prime Minister calls so] with no courage to face the law.

“Although Mr. Hun Sen indirectly insulted a president of a party who is outside the country, without mentioning the name of Prince Ranariddh, Khmer citizens understand well that when Mr. Hun Sen talked about Princess Marie Ranariddh, Prince Ranariddh’s former wife, and when he warned to offer royal golden handcuffs, it was clearly understood that Mr. Hun Sen directly warned Prince Ranariddh, who escaped and is living in Malaysia with the ‘phantom fox,’ and he does not dare to return to the country. He and his followers accused Prime Minister Mr. Hun Sen of abusing the King’s right to grant a pardon to Prince Ranariddh.

“On the Morning of 26 May 2008, Mr. Hun Sen expressed his strong and direct reactions against Prince Ranariddh, who is the president of the Norodom Ranariddh Party, and who is living outside the country, ‘If you, all the Norodom Ranariddh Party officials, wonder, you can go to the Royal Palace to ask the King in which respect Hun Sen abused the King’s rights.’

“Mr. Hun Sen added that there is no one who rejects the King’s rights, but the King’s procedure must have their qualifications. Without mentioning any name, Mr. Hun Sen continued that previously they accused him of setting this or that condition in order that the Prince can return to the country.

“Mr. Hun Sen went on to say that previously, Prince Ranariddh had wanted the King to pardon him, because he has guilt – but now he announced also that he has no guilt. Mr. Hun Sen continued, ‘When did you have a guilt? When the court issued the verdict, you appealed – and because you appealed, the judgment did not became valid. Now the Appeals Court sentenced you and you appealed to the Supreme Court. So you claim that you are not guilty, but if you are not guilty, why did you ask the King to pardon you? Unless the Supreme Court has sentenced you… – but if you are guilty, you will be punished.’

“Mr. Hun Sen said that previously, when the Prince was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment over having a contract to import guns and dealing with the Khmer Rouge, ‘Hun Sen could spare him because it was my own case, but now this is not my case, I want to make this clear.’ Mr. Hun Sen said, ‘That party president and his officials, who accused Hun Sen of not recognizing the King’s rights, please tell me which points you refer to?’

“Mr. Hun Sen said, ‘This case has been delayed for a long time, because if I hit the older brother [Prince Ranariddh], it hurts his younger brother [the King], and if I hit the child [Prince Ranariddh], it hurts his father [the former King]. Some observers said that Mr. Hun Sen indirectly insulted and looked down on the Royal Family.

“Mr. Hun Sen added that arrangements for an amnesty were always made to be announced at the Khmer New Year, on Pchum Ben Day, or on the King’s Birthday, or the Father King’s, or the King’s Mother’s Birthdays; and the procedures for amnesties had been prepared by the Minister of Justice, together with clarifications by the heads of the prisons, to clarify that the prisoners had promised not to commit any crime again. Then they brought requests to the Ministry of Justice, the Minister will bring the clarifications about the prisoner’s promise to the Prime Minister. Finally, the Prime Minister will bring it to the King to be signed to grant an amnesty.

Article 27 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says:
“The King shall have the right to grant partial or complete amnesty.”

“Mr. Hun Sen went on to say that the Prince claims that he has not any guilt; but then he said that I abused the King’s rights. Once he said it like this, once he said it like that – how can he be a person from the legal profession?

“Mr. Hun Sen warned, ‘I have asked [the Director General of the National Police] Mr. Hok Lundy to make handcuffs painted with golden color. If you are not guilty, why do you not return to the country? Nobody prohibits you. When you left, we did not force you, and if you come back, we will not care about you, so why do you not come when actually you are not guilty?’

“Mr. Hun Sen was very angry with the president of a certain party whose name was not mentioned, and he said that that party’s president’s officials in the country had also accused him of abusing the King’s rights…

“The US Ambassador, Mr. Joseph A. Mussomeli, had told journalists in Kompong Thom some days ago that Prince Ranariddh should return to the country to address and to finish his case legally at the court.

“However, people from the legal profession said that Prince Ranariddh has no courage to return and to face the court in Cambodia, because if he returns, the court will issue a warrant to detain him temporarily, to continue the inquest and to prevent him from escaping abroad again, even though the Supreme Court has not yet opened a hearing to decide whether Prince Ranariddh is guilty or not.

“Prince Ranariddh had been sued by Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhek Bun Chhay on the accusation of having abused the confidence over the sale of the Funcinpec headquarters at the base of the Chroy Chongva Bridge, and over putting of his name, to be the owner of the new headquarters at a Phnom Penh suburb.

“The Phnom Penh court had opened a hearing of Prince Ranariddh in absentia to serve eighteen months in prison, and ordered him to pay US$150,000 to Funcinpec, with Mr. Nhek Bun Chhay being the Funcinpec representative.

“Analysts said that if Prince Ranariddh does not dare to return to the country and to face the court, his party will lose the confidence and the supports from the citizens. And now, some officials who had followed him for many years, leave him.” Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #107, 27.5.2008

[Note: The translation of this article is slightly abbreviated while keeping the basic content intact]

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2780, 27.5.2008

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Ordered the Kandal Provincial Governor [Chhun Sirun on 23 May 2008] to Cancel a Land Title of the Phanimex Company in the Veal Sbov Commune [Kien Svay District – over a land dispute]

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #107, 27.5.2008

  • Hun Sen Announced to Give Golden Handcuffs to Prince Norodom Ranariddh and to Invite Him to Prey Sar Prison

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1651, 27.5.2008

  • Cambodia Canceled the Prohibitory Notice against Exporting Rice and Paddy Rice
  • Donor Countries Promise to Provide Aid of US$50 Million to Burma

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6355, 27.5.2008

  • Regarding an Attempt for “Change”, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Said: You Only Have the Right to Change through Voting [he said on 26 May 2008]
  • It Is about One Million Tonnes of Paddy Rice that Our Farmers Need to Export [says Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • Land Disputes: Two Groups of People Protesting: One Group Is Walking towards Phnom Penh to Arrive at the Residence [of Prime Minister Hun Sen] in Takhmao, the Other Group Protests in Front of the Battambang Provincial Office
  • Workshop on How to Create Draft Laws for Drafters of Laws Held [on 22 May 2008 at Phnom Penh Hotel, sponsored by USAID]

Meatophum, Vol.52, #690, 26-31.5.2008

  • The Cambodian People’s Party Will Not Lead the Government together with the Sam Rainsy Party! [said the Prime Minister on 21 May 2008]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3470, 27.5.2008

  • Siem [Thailand] Is Happy that Deputy Prime Minister and Senior Minister in Charge of the Council of Ministers Sok An Agreed to Only Include the Body of the Preah Vihear Temple [not the not yet demarkated area around the temple] to Be Listed as a World Heritage Site [after a three-sided meeting in Paris last week]
  • [Sam Rainsy Party president] Sam Rainsy: [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Is Wasting National Funds by Increasing the Number of Members of the National Assembly
  • Development Projects of Foreign Companies along Borders Might Affect Khmer Territory

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4599, 27.5.2008

  • Seven Parliamentarians from the Sam Rainsy Party [Mr. Mei Bunvithyea, Mr. Chab Rithy, Mr. Bean Thul, Mr. Heang Soriyak and Mr. Iem Chantha, six of them are from Kandal, and Mr. Nou Sovath, Phnom Penh parliamentarian] Left the Party While the President Mr. Sam Rainsy Returned [on 26 May 2008]
  • UN Secretary-General Hopes that Myanmar Will Keep Its Promise [to allow foreign relief groups to work in the destroyed areas]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3319, 27.5.2008

  • Sam Rainsy Continues to Call Those Who Had Left the Party to be Garbage and Calls the Cambodian People’s Party to Accept That Garbage

Have a look at last week’s editorial: The oil price spiral – special investments – and a comparison of the activities in Myanmar and in China

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