To Trust the Law Means to Trust that the Law is not only Written, but that It Is Implemented – Sunday, 29.8.2010

Posted on 30 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, 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

Social stability depends on a situation where the citizens trust that the law is implemented. Not every time when somebody thinks to be treated unjustly this is also true. But the fact that every week there are several reports of demonstrations of groups of people, in different parts of the country, who feel they are suffering injustice – mostly related to land use and land rights – should be a sign of alarm. Social stability can be enforced for some time, but that is different from social stability based on peace and justice.

In 2002, the Prime Minister had said in his opening speech to the Consultative Group Meeting between representatives of the Cambodian Government and representatives of cooperating countries and international institutions:

“We are conscious that corruption in the public machinery, be it judiciary or administrative or any other, increases transaction costs for everyone and reduces predictability in law enforcement and implementation of government’s policies… The government believes that enactment of adequate laws and regulations to prevent and punish corruption is crucial for addressing this problem.”

And in December 2005 he warned that if illegal land seizures were not brought under control, they could lead to a farmers’ revolution.

Are these words of the Prime Minister out of date?

Seeing that during many of present demonstrations people carrying pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady shows that many people still have hope in interventions by the Prime Minister to provide justice – even when they have lost confidence that the normal process of the courts will achieve this goal.

Violations of the law happen regularly and massively, as claimed in the Cambodian press, and this is also confirmed by high ranking officials of the government. Just to quote some examples from the current week reported in The Mirror:

  • Contraband Is Massively Imported while Members of the Authorities Are Collecting Colossal Amounts of Money
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Had Often Warned against It, but Frequently Heads of Some Institutions and Units Continue to Nominate Their Children’s Spouses or Other Relatives to Take Their Positions When They Retire
  • Tax Officers Who Collect Excessive Amounts of Money from Road Tax Payments Face Dismissal [so this is happening]
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Order to Intercept Forestry Crimes Is No Longer Followed [recently, there is more illegal wood transported]
  • Disabled Veterans and Retiring Civil Servants Complained about Difficulties to Get Their Salaries [as they were told to wait from day to day]

Not all press reports are verified – but if there are repeatedly reports about the same kind of violations, one would expect concerned statements from the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, explaining to the public what the authorities are doing to check what is going on to rectify what is wrong.

It is surprising that, instead, the spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, when requested to look into problems in the way society is operating in spite of the regulations of the Constitution of 1993, made appeasing statements. He said that the government always rules the country following the law, adding, “If the opposition party wants further reforms beyond this, it has to wait until it wins the elections.” Many people who are convinced they suffer injustice do not want to see a complete political change, they just want to see that the laws and the Constitution of 1993 are really implemented.

When the 2010 report of Amnesty International drew the attention to the plight of thousands of Cambodian citizens suffering from forced relocations – in case of Group 78 in the Tonle Basak commune and other cases – the same spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers accused Amnesty International not to have studied the actual situation. Even accusations were made that such reports about the plight of Cambodian people asking for justice are only written to gain money for the writers. One might expect that the spokesperson would rather elaborate what the government is doing to help the people who have lost their homes, where they had had their livelihood – though poor – established for many years.

Will the Minister of Justice also be accused of “not to have studied the actual situation” for blaming the court system of not functioning according to the law, and therefore not delivering justice:

  • The Ministry of Justice Released a Letter to Warn Judges and Prosecutors Who Read Newspapers during Hearings and Assign Clerks to Assume Their Responsibility Instead

When a Delegation of the European Parliament recently visited Cambodia to study the medical sector, they observed the gap between what the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says, and the realities they met. The Mirror carried repeatedly reports about sick people who could not get proper attention in hospitals if they were not able to pay first.

The public is not so much interested in claims by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers that everything is all right. It would rather be interesting to read more about what measure are taken or planned to bridge the gap between the requirements of the Constitution – from which we quote here – than to be referred to a possible change by electoral vote, if the people want to see the Constitution implemented.

Some related quotes from the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia – always interesting and important reading:

  • Article 72: The health of the people shall be guaranteed. The State shall give full consideration to disease prevention and medical treatment. Poor citizens shall receive free medical consultation in public hospitals, infirmaries and maternities.
  • Article 74: The State shall assist the disabled and the families of combatants who sacrificed their lives for the nation.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Chan Sarun: Courts Bury the Cases of Forestry Crimes – Wednesday, 4.8.2010

Posted on 6 August 2010. Filed under: Week 676 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 676

“The Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Chan Sarun, accused courts of keeping cases of forestry, agricultural, and fishery crimes unsolved. He said that 70% of crimes nationwide were sent to courts.

“Speaking to forestry administration officials in Phnom Penh, Mr. Chan Sarun said that the problem results from a lack of cooperation. He said, ‘Forestry, agricultural, and fishery crimes were not brought for trials at courts due to a lack of cooperation between prosecutors and officials in investigations.’

“Early this year, the government launched a massive suppression campaign against illegal logging. This suppression after Prime Minister Hun Sen told military commanders in November that he would not spare any military commanders who are are involved in illegal logging. In April 2010, Prime Minister Hun Sen removed the Director General of the Forestry Administration, Mr. Ty Sokun, from his position on the grounds that he failed to intercept forestry crimes.

“But many conservationists criticized the suppression is ineffective, claiming that many officials involved in illegal logging are rarely brought to courts.

“The statement of Mr. Chan Sarun on Friday last week during a session to assess the enforcement of forestry administration criticized lower level forestry administration officials for negligence. He made many recommendations requesting lower level forestry administration officials to take restrictive action immediately to crack down on all images of forestry crimes and to prevent them from happening in Cambodia.

“Mr. Chan Sarun added, ‘We must gather all intercepted and seized grade quality wood and put it for public bidding. The money from the selling will be made national resources.

“Mr. Chan Sarun did not mention how many cases of forestry, agricultural, and fishery crimes that were sent to courts and he could not be reached for more comments early this week.

“The head of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Mr. Chiv Keng, said on Monday that, believing that the figures mentioned is old ones, but he acknowledged that the provincial courts must make more efforts to speed up hearings on forestry crimes.

“Mr. Chiv Keng said, ‘Courts, including the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, heard almost all cases. I encouraged provincial courts to work on all forestry crimes.’

“A prosecutor of the Siem Reap Municipal Court, Mr. Ty Sovinthal, said on Monday that the Siem Reap court does not kept any forestry crimes unsolved. Anyway, he does not know how many cases of forestry crimes that had been heard by the court.

“In response to Mr. Chan Sarun’s statement, the head of the Department of Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Mr. Tim Sipha, said on Monday that he had ordered officials to step up cooperation with prosecutors. He stressed, ‘We have already encouraged, but punishments are courts’ authority. At present, we are cooperating with prosecutors to investigate some cases in order to gather more evidence.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #229, 4.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2318, 4.8.2010

  • A Request [by 13 trade unions and associations] to Discuss the Increase of Worker Salary Was Rejected [by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia; currently the minimum wage of workers is US$61]
  • [A Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Prak Sokhon and [the deputy head of the National One-Village-One-Product Committee], Mr. Serey Kosal Were Appointed as [4-star] Generals

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7025, 4.8.2010

  • [Four] Robbers Robed the Bags of Hotel Staff and Fatally Shot a Man Which Left His Wife in Mourning [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3949, 4.8.2010

  • The Hearing of Chi Kraeng District Residents over a Land Dispute Was Delayed after Citizens Lighted Incense Sticks to Pray and There Was a Call [from families of the suspects, the Sam Rainsy Party, and ADHOC] for the Release of the [12] Accused [the hearing was postponed because the head of the trial council had health problem]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #21, 4.8.2010

  • The Prime Minister Encourages to Check the Potential [for more cooperation] along [the Cambodian-Vietnamese] Border
  • Cambodia Is Not Afraid when Siam [Thailand] Plans to Take the Memorandum of Understanding from the Year 2000 as a Reference for Talking [with the World Heritage Committee]

Note

If any of our readers knows where the text of the Memorandum about the intended proceedings to clarify the border between Cambodia and Thailand – either in Khmer or in English or in Thai – is available, please let us know at mirror@gmx.org

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #229, 4.8.2010

  • Chan Sarun: Courts Bury the Cases of Forestry Crimes
  • Vietnam Asked Cambodia to Cooperate in Suppressing Those Who Intend to Overthrow the Hanoi Government [according to a meeting of Cambodian and Vietnamese officials in Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5267, 4.8.2010

  • Speed Is the Cause of Many Traffic Accidents [in July 2010, 126 people were killed and 642 others were seriously or lightly injured in 391 traffic accidents countrywide]
  • After a Crash between Two Cars, Three People Died and Five Others Were Seriously Injured [Battambang]

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.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

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.

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.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

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]

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.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

Using Computers: Upholding Rights and Freedoms while Fighting Crime – Sunday, 18.7.2010

Posted on 21 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

The Ministry of Defense hopes that the use of computers will help better to cut down the names of ‘ghost soldiers’ from the salary lists of the military. This was expressed by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, who said that the present census of all soldiers will be more accurate and thorough this year than in previous years. “It is an annual census to find out the real number of soldiers and of the children of those soldiers, and to cut out the names of soldiers who have retired or who died, or are not present anymore.” There are some traditional elements in this process, even surprising ones – if one assumes that soldiers would be known, present, and listed at their command posts: “All soldiers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are required to show up at their command posts. The soldiers will there be asked to identify themselves by showing themselves and their ID numbers, as well as to specify the number of children they have at present in the lists… the names of soldiers who do not show up will be deleted from the salary lists of the Ministry of Defense.”

Considering the results of a similar exercise in 2008, where – according to Mr. Cheam Yeap, a member of the National Assembly from the Cambodian People’s Party – the government found 10,000 ghost soldiers and 10,000 ghost police, for whom salaries were regularly paid out (to whom?), the new findings might again bring considerable savings to the national budget.
Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat added that there is confidence that this year, the data will be accurate, because of the use of a computer system to store all documents.

The newly created Anti-Corruption Unit of the government will start with to collect about 100,000 declarations of assets, and this process is to be implemented before November 2010, “to facilitate a quick enforcement of the law.” Though the Anti-Corruption Unit is to keep all these documents, it has not been announced how this is going to happen practically. Even trusting the capacities of computer systems, it will be difficult to receive and file more than 1,000 asset declarations per day during the remaining days before November.

But the past week brought also a different reminder about the power of computer systems: Cambodian authorities began creating legislation against cyber crimes. “A workshop about the creation of legislation against cyber crimes was held on 13 July 2010 at the Council of Ministers, and government officials, officials of national and international organizations, and representatives of Internet Service Providers, of telecom companies, of technology companies, of publication institutions, and of other relevant fields participated in the workshop… The advancement of technology is a double-edged sword. It can make many things easier and provides abundant benefits for quick development. But it also creates opportunities for criminals to use it to commit various offenses.” This double reality was pointed out: that by now communication technology plays an ever growing role in society – but on the other hand, Cambodia is also experiencing similar problems and threat as they happen in other countries also, which can be a threat for security, economy, and the general and political life of a society.

This Cambodian workshop was held also to consider how other countries are dealing with this new world wide problem. The head of the Economic Crime Division of the Council of Europe, Mr. Alexander Seger, referred to the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime of 2001, which had been developed during four years before it was presented to the member states of the Council of Europe, but which is also open for other states to sign and to access, so that among the 47 countries which signed it, there are also non-European countries: Canada, Japan, South Africa, and the United States of America.

These preparatory efforts in Cambodia are considering the same range of criminal activities which happen also in other countries around the globe. “Cambodia has already experienced many problems that allow cyber criminals to commit offenses using such technology. There are many cases where all must pay attention, to prevent cheating on the Internet, to receive the inheritance from someone illegally, not to respond to electronic messages asking for passwords, or messages threatening someone, stealing of passwords, and the distribution of child pornography into computer systems, or the sending of spam mails.”

What is remarkable is the fact that the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime does not only point to the threats which can come from criminal use of the Internet, and to the need to protect society from them. Included in this document of 28 pages is also a warning that the need for criminal prosecution shall not violate fundamental rights of the citizens to be protected:

The member States of the Council of Europe and the other States signatory hereto,… Convinced of the need to pursue, as a matter of priority, a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cyber crime, inter alia, by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international co-operation;…

Mindful of the need to ensure a proper balance between the interests of law enforcement and respect for fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1950 Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the 1966 United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other applicable international human rights treaties, which reaffirm the right of everyone to hold opinions without interference, as well as the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, and the rights concerning the respect for privacy;

Mindful also of the right to the protection of personal data, as conferred, for example, by the 1981 Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data;…

Have agreed as follows:

Each Party shall adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish as criminal offenses under its domestic law, when committed intentionally…

followed by chapters on Illegal access, Illegal interception, Data and System interference, Misuse of devices, Computer-related forgery and fraud, Offenses related to child pornography and to infringements of copyright, etc.

When representatives of governments, of the business community, and of civil society – according to the multi-stakeholder principle introduced by the United Nations for dealing with questions of the present Information Society – met in June for an Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum in Hong Kong, the issue of cyber security was also high on the agenda. While there was an emphasis on legal measures to assure the security and stability of the Internet, and on technical facilities to implement such controls, a group of civil society representatives from Southeast Asia made their common concern public in a 2010 Southeast Asia Civil Society Declaration on Internet Governance.

This Southeast Asian reflection starts with a references to the UN Summits for the Information Society of 2003 and 2005, especially with their Declaration of Principles, which the representatives of governments from around the globe had voted upon:

We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled in Geneva from 10-12 December 2003 for the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, declare our common desire and commitment to build a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Building on this guideline, which had led to the setting up of the Internet Governance Forums, this civil society declaration says among others in a longer text:

Key Observations of the Asia Pacific regional Internet Governance Forum

In response to the first Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum Roundtable in Hong Kong on 15-16 June 2010, we, netizens, journalists, bloggers, IT practitioners and nongovernmental representatives from across Southeast Asia, offer the following observations from the Roundtable:

Critical issues of Internet governance in Asia should guide future discussions on Internet governance policy:

Openness

Open access to information is the right of every individual, a right that serves as a fundamental venue for one’s knowledge- and capacity-building. Access to information ultimately helps foster creativity and innovation, thus promoting sustainable human and economic development. Openness is key to a democratic and open society. Restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression online, such as state censorship which blocks Internet intermediaries, is one of the threats to open societies. Intimidation and state censorship facilitate self-censorship, a hazardous social phenomenon that further undermines democracy and openness.

Access

The Internet is for everyone; it is a public good. Yet a Digital Divide between those countries and communities with Internet access and those without persists, and has not been sufficiently addressed in discussions on Internet governance. Proceedings at the Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum indicated a higher priority must be placed on addressing not only the global digital divide, but also regional and national ones. While Singapore enjoys high Internet access rates (70% penetration), countries like Burma and Cambodia are at the other end of the spectrum (0.22% and 0.51% penetration, respectively), ranked the lowest of 200 countries studied in the World Bank.

Internet access is fundamental for progress. Various factors, such as political, economic and social development, poverty levels, and technological infrastructure affect whether and how often people can access the Internet. Internationally coordinated efforts must be made to address domestic policies that contribute to the digital divide in Southeast Asia and find solutions to bridge the gap.

Cyber Security

Definition of cyber security must include elements that address the right to privacy and to civil and political freedom.

An individual’s right over his/her own privacy, including personal data and information, must not be sacrificed…

Today’s information society connects personal IT devices directly to the outside world, no longer storing personal data on a single server. Given the involvement of the government and businesses (especially state-owned enterprises) in running such technologies, surveillance and identity theft remain a constant threat against Internet users.

In this regard, any national security policy must not deviate from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all international human rights covenants to which states are parties…

The references of the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime and of the Southeast Asia Civil Society Declaration on Internet Governance to human rights and freedoms, not only threatened by criminal action, but also by efforts to impose extensive control, are important reminders that security must be human security.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

The Declaration of Asset Will Be Made before November – Thursday, 15.7.2010

Posted on 19 July 2010. Filed under: Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

Note:

Apologies again for the delay – I am back in Phnom Penh, but I returned with a defective computer. I hope within one day to be up to date again.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: The declaration of assets of officials of the Royal Government as well as of relevant civil society officials will be made before November 2010.

“The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Senior Minister Om Yentieng, said during a press conference in the morning of 14 July 2010 that the Anti-Corruption Unit will proceed with the procedure of the declaration of assets of relevant officials, including officials of the Royal Government appointed by sub-decrees and royal decrees, as well as other officials including those of civil society organizations, and the declaration will be conducted before November 2010, to facilitate a quick enforcement of the law. He added that there are about 100,000 persons in Cambodia who are required to declare their assets. The duty of the Anti-Corruption Unit is to keep all documents. Also, the Anti-Corruption Unit has the right to check those documents anytime.

“Relating to a question from journalists about how much money is to be considered as corruption, Mr. Om Yentieng said that an amount to be considered as corruption does not need to be up to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Riel 1,000 to Riel 2,000 [US$0.25 to US$0.50] can also be considered as corruption, and there are many types of corruption, like the provision of licenses and permissions, or the offering of sexual pleasure which can also be considered as corruption. He said that improper activities of traffic police who fine citizens without giving them a receipt for the fine paid can also be considered as corruption.

“Mr. Om Yengtieng added that the declarations will be made officially, and the procedure does not protect corrupt people as the opposition parties have said, because the procedures had granted full rights to the opposition parties to express their ideas during the discussions and adoptions of the law in the National Assembly, but the decision [to terminate the discussions] were within the rights of the president of the National Assembly. He believes that this law will proceed smoothly. He went on to say that as soon as this law had been released, some officials required to declare their asset felt afraid. Thus, it is not a simple matter.

“The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit stated during the press conference that the Anti-Corruption Unit has a fivefold mission:

  1. Lead the fight against any acts of corruption.
  2. Fight against corruption of all forms, in all sectors, and at all levels.
  3. Proceed following three legal procedures: to educate, to prevent, and to punish.
  4. Fight corruption with participation by the general public.
  5. Fight corruption with participation by international agencies.

“Also, the Anti-Corruption Unit is always aware of a recommendation by the president of the National Assembly to prevent its members from committing corruption, as they are more in danger to commit corruption than others. As there are difficulties to fight corruption, the Anti-Corruption Unit is provided with some special rights to act.

“Mr. Om Yentieng stressed that all personnel of the Anti-Corruption Unit, including the watchmen at the Anti-Corruption office, have to declare their assets. There are two types of penalties for corruptions: misdemeanors and felonies, which cover 7-days to life imprisonment.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2301, 15.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 15 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2301, 15.7.2010

  • The Declaration of Asset Will Be Made before November
  • The Sharing Experience for Adapted Development [SEAD] Delivers 40,000 Books of a Services Directory for Vulnerable People [the books, which list 280 organizations, 25 units, 85 hospitals, and 220 health centers will be provided to staff of the government and of non-government organizations that work with vulnerable children and families to be used as their reference in offering necessary services to those people]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7008, 15.7.2010

  • More Than 100,000 Officials Will Have to Declare Their Assets and Debts Every Two Years
  • Cambodia and the United States of America Will Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations [from 18 to 24 July 2010 in Phnom Penh and in Battambang]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3932, 15.7.2010

  • More Than 100,000 Officials Are the Target to Declare Their Assets, according to a Report when Cambodia Hosted an Anti-Corruption Conference
  • Khmer Citizens Have Not Received the Right for Just Hearings, as Guaranteed by National and International Laws [according to observations by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights cooperating with the US Agency for International Development and the East-West Management Institute in 199 hearings at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #215, 15.7.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected UN Criticism [over the proceedings of the defamation case of the opposition politician, Ms. Mu Sochua, and Prime Minister Hun Sen, saying that this relates to internal affairs of Cambodia; recently the spokesperson of the United Nations, Mr. Rupert Colville, stated that Cambodian courts have been used as weapon to restrict the freedom of expression]
  • Vietnam Supplies Additional 20 Megawatt of Electricity to Cambodia [in response to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s request, amid the increasing demand for electricity in Cambodia; according to an agreement signed by both countries, Vietnam promised to supply 200 megawatt of electricity to Cambodia by 2009, but by now, Vietnam can supply only 120 megawatt due to a lack of electricity in its own country]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5250, 15.7.2010

  • Cambodia Earns Riel 6,000 Million to Riel 7,000 Million [US$1,380,000 to US$1,610,000] Each Year from Fishery Yield [each year 500,000 tonnes of fish are caught – according to the director general of the Department of Fisheries Administration, Mr. Nao Thuok]
  • Three Cars Loaded with Ebony Were Intercepted in the House of a Military Official in Stung Treng [but he has not been yet arrested]

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.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Cambodia Is Side-Tracking in Implementing the Anti-Torture Convention – Monday, 28.6.2010

Posted on 3 July 2010. Filed under: Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

“The international community celebrates the 23rd anniversary of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Cambodia became a member of this convention in 1992.

“By now, it has been 20 years that Cambodia has become a member of the Convention Against Torture of the United Nations. Human rights group noticed that among the 146 members, Cambodia has achieved little improvement in implementing the Convention. In addition, Cambodia seemingly continues to hide torture against persons who have not been found guilty. Sometimes, torture against suspects became a habit.

“During the international anniversary commemoration, civil society organizations expressed strong concern over the violation of the Convention. Moreover, no thorough investigations have been conducted over torture and mistreatments against suspects who had not been found guilty but had been arrested. Some cases of torture against a person were extreme. In some cases, there was just a suspicion, but law enforcement officials acted beyond the law. That means law violations seem to have been grave, and victims often did not dare to react. Additionally, there was not much effort to seek legal intervention. Therefore, some law enforcement officials often committed wrongdoings.

“According to a statement by Cambodian civil society organizations, in 2007, Cambodia ratified the additional Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and this was seen as a positive step where Cambodia took up more obligations to create an independent protection mechanism to observe all prisons, so as to prevent the use of torture in Cambodia. But things did not go in line with the situation of the world, as it was seen that there were still cases where the agreements entered were neglected in the implementation, not following international laws.

“Civil society organizations called on the Royal Government of Cambodia to fully cooperate with the Committee Against Torture of the United Nations that will come to conduct a second assessment in Cambodia, in November 2010, on the measures taken to ensure effectively following obligations according to the UN Convention Against Torture, and to fully comply with the final observations of the Committee Against Torture. This is a reminder by civil society organizations for the Cambodian government to check what it agreed to carry out, when it became a member of the UN Convention Against Torture, and when it ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture in 2007.

“Torture was not only used against the accused, but also against some suspects to extort information from them. These are the results from the culture of impunity spreading in Cambodia at present, leading to extending of the application of torture against the accused and the suspects. Obviously, the use of ‘citizen courts’ (where citizens act directly, like in some cases where a mob lynched suspects and perpetrators), to sentence robbers is a sign also encouraging the spread of torture in prisons. Many people have been released from prison, but their behavior did not change, as prisons are not places that educate them to walk on the right way. In contrast, prisons are places where torture is used to extracy answers for the authorities. Thus, Cambodia is viewed as not strictly taking up what it had agreed to practice when it became a member of the Convention Against Torture.

“This is a disappointment for civil society, as there are many problems in prisons, especially the use of torture by the authorities during interrogations. Torture is an important topic, because in prisons there are many issues such as corruption and torture. Hopefully, as member of the Convention Against Torture for almost 20 years, Cambodia will make positive changes over some secret happenings in prisons, otherwise crimes cannot be cut down, since those released from prisons continue to cause fear to the society.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3917, 28.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 28 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #515, 27-28.6.2010

  • The Person Who Filmed Beautiful Girls Bathing in Holy Water is a Monk of the Srah Chak Pagoda [after a video clip leaked of nude women bathing in holy water, police investigated and found out that a Srah Chak Pagoda monk had hidden a camera to film them; he was arrested and defrocked – Phnom Penh]
  • The Wife of the Spokesperson of the US Embassy [Mr. John Johnson] Suffered Serious Injuries after a Car Accident [in Sihanoukville]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2286, 27-28.6.2010

  • The UN Special Rapporteur Surya Subedi Apologized to the Cambodian Prime Minister [for using the word “disappointed” as he could not meet with Mr. Hun Sen]
  • [The head of the National Authority for Combating Drugs] His Excellency Ke Kim Yan Asked Common Citizens to Be Brave to Report Real Information to the National Authority for Combating Drugs or Directly to Him If They Are Afraid that There Is Collusion [between police and drug smugglers]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #692, 27-28.6.2010

  • [The executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation] Thach Ngok Thach Said that Khmer Kampuchea Krom People Are Disappointed when Samdech Euv [the former King] Did Not Raise the Case of Yuon [Vietnamese] Mistreatments [of Khmer Kampuchea Krom people]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6993, 28.6.2010

  • More Than 200 Pieces of Luxury Grade Wood Were Seized [they had been gathered by wood traders to export them to Vietnam [no info about any punishment of the wood traders – Ratanakiri]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3917, 28.6.2010

  • Cambodia Is Side-Tracking in Implementing the UN Convention Against Torture

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5235, 27-28.6.2010

  • Human Rights Activists Called on the Cambodian Government to Implement the UN Convention Against Torture
  • The Construction of a Bridge of 2,215 meters at Neak Loeung [across the Mekong River in Prey Veng] Will Start at the End of 2010 [under grant aid from Japan]

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.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

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.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Most of the Important Positions at International Border Crossings Are Not Reassigned, not Following a Sub-Decree – Friday, 21.5.2010

Posted on 22 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: Important positions of some officials – such as police, customs, and CamControl – at border crossings for international travelers and at border crossings for local travel are, at present, not reassigned properly, contrary to the terms that are clearly set by the Royal Government in a sub-decree.

“Sub-Decree 64, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2001, that consists of 13 chapters and 39 articles, clearly speaks about the structure for the administration, and the roles and terms of the officials that must be followed.

“According to Chapter 8, about the terms in Article 29, the head of border crossings for international travelers, and the officers at border crossings for local travel, the heads of sea ports, and the heads of other expert authorities must be reshuffled every two years. According to Article 30, officials stationed at border crossings for international travelers, and at other border crossings, will be reshuffled every year.

“But in reality, those officials collude with each other systematically, and important officials are not reshuffled according the terms as clearly stated in the Sub-Decree of the Royal Government. On the contrary, most officials holding important positions, such as in the police, or as tax and custom officers at international border crossings, and at other border crossing for local traffic, stay in their lucrative positions more than five years, and some even up to eight years, and the relevant ministries do not reassign them. In addition, the number of ‘mixed officials’ [police, tax officials, CamControl, and local authorities] at each international border crossing point is too high.

“It is seen that when related ministries and institutions do not implement the terms for the officials working at international and other border crossings for relevant ministries for years, without being reassigned, those officials use their positions to commit all kinds of corruption. They commit dishonest activities for personal gain and seek money for bribing the higher levels, so that they can stay in their positions longer, which leads to the loss of income for the state.

“In Chapter 11 of the Sub-Decree about penalties, Article 35 clearly states that officials who take the opportunity to use their positions and power to arbitrarily create difficulties for travelers, for for owners of vehicles, and relate to all types of goods crossing the border, or who violate their duties, will be convicted according to the law. However, in reality, none of them has been punished. Officials working at the same border crossing for several years usually make the citizens, and especially big traders feel afraid of them, as they think that officials who can stay at their posts for many years are not normal cases: they must have the backing of some high ranking officials. This allows those officials to do whatever they want.

“The Sub-Decree also established a monitoring procedure, with a representatives from the Council of Ministers as the head, and representatives from other ministries and institutions, and from the related municipalities, according to a notification from a Minister of the Council of Ministers, to monitor the activities and to checking the related offices, in order to report to the head of the government.

“But the mechanism seems ineffective for the day-to-day activities at international and other border crossings. Some police, customs, and CamCotrol officials are not reshuffled as required according to the sub-decree. Those officials use money collected at the border crossings to control the flow of document themselves. Some do this directly with the departments and their staff at each ministry. Others do it directly through the Customs Office, so that they can hold their positions at border crossings for years.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen warned on 6 April 2010 during the closing convention of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, that even if they fail to reshuffle, officials will be punished according to their terms that seem to allow those officials to commit corruption systematically as they know the place well.

“A parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, told reporters that through direct monitoring at some international border crossings, such as the Poipet border crossing, the international seaport in Sihanoukville, and the Smach international border crossing in Komopong Cham, there are many organizational structures of administration, and more than 1,000 coalition personnel involved, including police, military, and CamControl officials, and local authorities.

“Mr. Cheam Yeap added that the collection of state income is destroyed by corruption, committed by a small number of people working at those border crossing points. If an official takes, personally, just Baht 5 or Riel 1,000 or Riel 500 to buy something to eat, pretty much money is lost. They cause difficulties for the trading of citizens and of national and international investors. He suggested that the number of those officials should be reduced by half in order that much benefit can be contributed to Cambodia.

“Therefore, related ministries must check these unclear points, because the collusion not to reshuffle important positions of officials at international and other border crossings, and the too high number of officials, seriously violates the Sub-Decree signed by the head of the Royal Government.

“Many officials who do not have high ranking officials backing them and have no money to bribe higher levels, complained that they could not stay at good posts like others, because those working at such good posts are not reshuffled as before, but there are biddings for positions. This is a bad model for law enforcement which requires reforms.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5203, 21.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 21 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #483, 21.5.2010

  • The Phanpimex Company Destroyed a State Electricity Cabin to Claim Land [Phnom Penh]
  • The Garment Sector Creates Employment for More Than 300,000 Workers [in Cambodia, despite of the global economic crisis]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2254, 21.5.2010

  • Robbers Armed with AK Rifles Robbed a Village Chief in Banon District, Battambang [taking away some money and jewelries]
  • Opportunists Committed Looting and Robberies and Burnt Down [about 35] Buildings in Bangkok

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #769, 21.5.2010

  • The Great Heroic King [the former King] Should Raise the Restricted Freedom and Human Rights Issues of Kampuchea Krom People in His Meetings with Yuon [Vietnamese] Leaders during His Visit to Yuon [Vietnam – no date of his visit is specified]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #661, 21.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson] Yim Sovann: Mr. Om Yentieng Has Made No Achievements in Combating Corruption [recently, Mr. Om Yentieng was nominated head of the Anti-Corruption Unit – he will be automatically also a member of the Anti-Corruption Council, the body that is supervising the Anti-Corruption Unit; it seems that this construction implies that the head of the Unit is also supervising himself]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6961, 21.5.2010

  • More Than 30 Buildings Were Burnt Down in Bangkok – the International Community [the European Union and the United States of America] Condemned the Violent Suppression, but Were also Surprised with the Violence of the Demonstrators
  • In a Raid on a Drug Site in Sihanoukville, Sixteen People Were Arrested [for drug smuggling]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3885, 21.5.2010

  • The Opposition Party Calls the Prohibition to Visit [two] Farmers Being Jailed [for removing border markers in Svay Rieng] a Breach of the Rights of Parliamentarians

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #176, 21.5.2010

  • The Cambodian People’s Party Will Create Quick Reaction Youth Teams Countrywide [before the elections in 2012 and 2013]
  • The Nomination of Mr. Om Yentieng [a senior advisor of the Prime Minister] Invites Criticism [he was appointed by Prime Minister Hun Sen as the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit – the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that Mr. Om Yentieng is not able to fight corruption as head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee of Cambodia under the Council of Ministers, and also, he might be influenced by Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5203, 21.5.2010

  • Most of the Important Positions at International Border Crossings Are Not Reassigned, not Following a Sub-Decree
  • Cambodia Loses US$45 Million Each Year due to the Import of Pigs from Thailand [about one million pigs are imported to Cambodia each year, affecting local pig raisers; according to the head of the Cambodian Macro, Small, Medium Enterprise Project [MSME] of USAID, Mr. Curtis Hundley]

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.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Considering Forestry Crimes, Ty Sokun Should Not Be Allowed to Hold a Position, but Should Be Punished according to the Law – Wednesday, 7.4.2010

Posted on 8 April 2010. Filed under: Week 659 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 659

“Prime Minister Hun Sen announced yesterday morning, in a conference at the Chamkar Doung Royal University of Agriculture, to remove the director of the forestry administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. Such a removal of the holder of the same position, of a former head of the forestry administration – Mr. Ly Kim Han – happened also some years ago, making him feel heart-broken, and he died. But in Ty Sokun’s case, according to opinions expressed among the general public, he should face the law and receive punishment. To remove Ty Sokun, but to appoint him at the same time as Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, shows the great tolerance of the Prime Minister.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly announced the decision to take out Mr. Ty Sokun from the position of Director General of the Forestry Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, because he was involved in illegal wood trading. But Mr. Hun Sen did not specify any measures to be taken against Mr. Ty Sokun, and he reassigned him to the position of Under-Secretary of State of Agriculture. Prime Minister Hun Sen said on 6 April 2010 at the Chamkar Doung Royal University of Agriculture, that the head of the forestry administration, Mr. Ty Sokun, was involved in corruption related to forestry crimes, and that the authorities had recently started investigations to intercept them.

A house, reportedly belonging to Mr. Ty Sokun

A house, reportedly belonging to Mr. Ty Sokun

“Mr. Hun Sen specified that Mr. Ty Sokun was reassigned from the position of Director General of the Forestry Administration to become an Under-Secretary of State of Agriculture, and he was replaced by Mr. Chheng Kim Son. Also, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on wood traders and on other high ranking officials who are involved in forestry crimes to show up and to deliver any illegal wood to the authorities.

“Many high ranking officials involved in forestry crimes, who escaped abroad, must return to confess. Prime Minister Hun Sen stressed that at this time, there will be no tolerance for any official who got involved in forestry crimes. ‘We take hot measures to hit the heads of the main leaders. Therefore, the Prime Minister has to decide to do things, even if they hurt, in order to create models of law enforcement in the campaign to intercept forestry crimes.’

“In the meantime, the Prime Minister warned that Ms. Khai Narin, called Che Muoy, might be arrested, who is said to be a powerful person close to the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Chan Sarun. He warned also the Trapeang Prasat district governor in Oddar Meanchey, who used his power to authorize the transfer of state land to powerful military officials.

“Based on the words of the Prime Minister, what Ty Sokun did were mistakes that cannot be disregarded, and that made the Prime Minister lose trust in him. Also, he puts his trust in the newly appointed head of the forestry administration, Mr. Chheng Kim Son, and he hopes Mr. Chheng Kim Son will not disappoint his trust.

“It is reported that Mr. Chheng Kim Son had not been powerful, so he could not just move up to take the position and be appointed to replace Ty Sokun. But it is said that the deputy director of the Forestry Administration, Mr. Chea Sam Ath, is the most powerful person there, who would normally replace Mr. Ty Sokun. But because Mr. Chea Sam Ath is said also to be involved with corruption over forestry crimes, not much different from Mr. Ty Sokun, he was not promoted. The same source added that Mr. Chea Sam Ath has many problems, for which he might be removed or jailed, like other fellow forestry functionaries.

“Therefore, it is likely that Mr. Chea Sam Ath cannot avoid to face jail because the forestry crimes were of a large scale. If Mr. Chea Sam Ath did not have problems, he would have already been nominated head of the forestry administration. But because he has similar problems as Ty Sokun, he was ignored. Does taking responsibility for the forestry administration of the Ministry of Agriculture end with the removal of only the Director General of the Forestry Administration Ty Sokun?

“On Monday, a forestry chief from a region facing the Gulf of Thailand, Mr. Vann Sophanna was summoned by the Koh Kong Municipal Court, but was released later. The Judge of the Koh Kong Municipal Court questioned the head of the forestry administration station facing the Gulf of Thailand, Mr. Vann Sophanna, and the Deputy Forestry Administration Chief of Pursat, Mr. Ouk Kim San, at 9:45 of 5 April 2010. The questioning was made after the national military police, in collaboration with the military police of Kampot and of Sihanoukville, arrested them on Sunday morning in Kompong Trach district, Kampot, and sent them to be detained at the Koh Kong Military Police Station and then to the court for questioning over forestry crimes in the regions under their authority.

“According to military police officials, they will continue to arrest other suspects involved in forestry crimes. It is said that Vann Sophanna, who is a powerful figure in illegally trading wood, is vicious and very domineering. He often blamed his fellow officials over minor mistakes. The general public waits to see other senior officials, who are involved in forestry crimes, also arrested, as recently some other forestry administration officials had been arrested. The interception of forestry crimes and the arrest of perpetrators started after strict orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“It should be noted that last week, many forestry administration officials, with positions from commune to district forestry administration heads, especially those in Kompong Cham, were removed. According to some reports, the Kompong Cham district forestry administration head, Mr. Hun Ieng, the Memut district forestry administration head, Mr. Thong Vannviravuth, the Memut commune forestry administration head, Mr. Yim La, and the Dambae commune forestry administration head, were removed from their positions, and they face imprisonment. Besides forestry administration officials in Kompong Cham, where the authorities found thousands of cubic meters of wood in Memut district, other forestry officials in Pursat and in some other provinces, where there is illegal wood trading, are also facing removal and arrest.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3852, 7.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #454, 7.4.2010

  • As a Result of the Hot Campaign to Combat Forestry Crimes, Ty Sokun Was Removed and Chheng Kim Song Was Appointed to Replace Him
  • After Mr. Ty Sokun Was Removed from His Position, Documents Relating to Irregular Measures Were Disclosed
  • A Military Brigadier General Is Detained at the Prey Sar Prison due to His Anarchic Gunfire [which injured an English woman – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2221, 7.4.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Removes Ty Sokun and Warned Other Officials
  • The National Assembly Adopted a Draft Allowing Cambodia to Become a Part of the ASEAN Anti-Terrorism Pact

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6928, 7.4.2010

  • A 45-Seater Bus Was Illegally Loaded with 68 Pieces of Ebony [the driver was arrested – Siem Reap]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3852, 7.4.2010

  • Considering Forestry Crimes, Ty Sokun Should Not Be Allowed to Hold a Position, but Should Be Punished according to the Law

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #147, 7.4.2010

  • Ty Sokun Was Removed from His Position and the Newly Appointed Forestry Chief Was Warned [by Prime Minister Hun Sen] that He Would Be Jailed if He Cannot Intercept Forestry Crimes [Mr. Ty Sokun said that his ability was limited and most perpetrators have relations with high ranking officials and with the rich, and they often warned forestry officials]
  • Mr. Hun Sen Ordered the Authorities to Break Down All [illegally constructed] Reservoirs [in the flood plain] around the Tonle Sap Lake [this can cause flooding and disrupt the spawning of fish]
  • The Prime Minister Warned Chevron [he said that this oil company will lose its exploration rights if it cannot produce oil by the end of 2012]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5170, 7.4.2010

  • The Prime Minister Openly Announced to Remove Mr. Ty Sokun from the Position of Director General of the Forestry Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
  • The Wood Stored by the Owner of the [Siem Reap] Cultural Village Was Not 200 Cubic Meters, but More Than 600 Cubic Meters

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.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

« Previous Entries

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...