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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 679

Important Announcement

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

Thanks,

Norbert Klein
Editor of The Mirror

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2335, 24.8.2010

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

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7042, 24.8.2010

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

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3966, 24.8.2010

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

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #38, 24.8.2010

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

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

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

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5284, 24.8.2010

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

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New Sub-Decree: Foreigners Can Own 70% of Condominiums – Monday, 19.7.2010

Posted on 21 July 2010. Filed under: Week 674 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

“Construction development companies have received some information about a new sub-decree that allows foreigners to own about 70% of condominium buildings, in order to promote the real estate and the construction sectors in Cambodia.

“The sub-decree adopted by the Council of Ministers states that foreigners in Cambodia can have about 70% of ownership rights of houses.

“This figure is lower than that which had been proposed in the draft of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction which had determined that foreigners can own 80%. Nevertheless, this percentage is still higher than that had been proposed in the first draft about foreign ownership in 2009 which was only 49%.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction, Ms. Nun Pheany, said on Sunday, ‘Such a decision is to allow Cambodians to own more real estate in order to prevent too much ownership by foreigners.’

“Though the percentage for the control of real estate by foreigners is now lower, the sub-decree is still a starting point to encourage foreign investors to help develop the real estate market in Cambodia.

“Ms. Pheany believes that to develop that field cannot rely only on local buyers.

“Analysts agreed that the adoption by the government about the ownership rights of foreigners can help to boost the Cambodian economy that is being seriously affected by the global financial crisis.

“Prices of land and houses in Cambodia declined by 40% to 60% compared to 2008 when prices went sky-rocketing.

“A senior partner of the Sciaroni & Associates Company and a legal adviser to the government, Mr. Bretton G. Sciaroni, said on Sunday that the sub-decree will provide a new opportunity for the Cambodian economy. He said, ‘It can help Cambodia in many ways. It helps create not only long term operations, but also attracts new foreign investors. He thinks that the sub-decree will turn Cambodia to be a country with some attraction in the region, as the decree is not too strict compared to neighboring countries.

“He said, ‘We are more open and have a better atmosphere than Thailand.’ In Thailand, foreigners can own houses merely up to 49%.

“Companies constructing satellite cities in the Phnom Penh area welcomed the decision of the government and hope that this will assist the development of the real estate market in Cambodia and increase the selling of houses, when investors can purchase more real estate property.

“The director of the construction project on Koh Pich island, Mr. Touch Samnang, said, ‘This sub-decree is good for the development of the real estate market in Cambodia. We expect that through the provision of ownership rights, more foreign investors will consider investing in Cambodia.’

“His company is constructing 168 houses and villas at Koh Pich island, and this has been achieved already by 40%.

“The executive director of the Bunna Realty Group, Mr. Sung Bunna, thinks that this sub-decree will make Cambodia become an attractive place for foreign investors. But he warned that this sub-decree alone is not sufficient to attract investors to come to Cambodia, adding, ‘Cambodia needs to have other incentives.'” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #217, 19.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 19 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2304, 18-19.7.2010

  • Cambodia Will Send Deminers for a Peace Keeping Mission in Lebanon [under the system of the United Nations, said Prime Minister Hun Sen – in September 2010]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7011, 19.7.2010

  • Big Mineral, Oil, and Gas Companies Have to Declare the Amount of Money Paid to the Royal Government [Oxfam praised the US Senate for requiring the declaration by US registered mineral, oil, and gas companies of payments to different governments around the world as a legal obligation]
  • Samdech Dekchor: Cambodia and the United States of America Still Have the Potential to Expand Cooperation [he said so during a meeting with US Under-Secretary of State Mr. William Burns]
  • A Firefighter Association in Japan Donated 20 Firefighter Trucks to the Phnom Penh Municipality

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #7, 18-19.7.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party member] Mu Sochua Called the Legal Institutions Controlled by the King Powerless [when there is no response to a Sam Rainsy Party letter to the King to ask for intervention regarding her defamation case against Prime Minister Hun Sen; so far there is no reaction yet from officials of the Royal Palace]
  • Cambodia Has a High Potential to Plant Rubber Trees on as Many as 600,000 Hectares [at present rubber trees are planted on 139,210 hectares, and Cambodia can already produce more than 40,000 tonnes of rubber each year for export]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3935, 19.7.2010

  • The Legal System and Corruption Are Priorities for Reforms in Order to Encourage a Good Atmosphere to Attract Investors
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua: The Sam Rainsy Party Asked the United States of America to Guarantee the Return of Sam Rainsy and Free and Fair Elections [during a visit of Mr. William Burns]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #217, 19.7.2010

  • New Sub-Decree: Foreigners Can Own 70% of Condominiums
  • A US Official [Mr. William Burns]: Military Ties between Cambodia and America Are More Than Donations of Materials [but they aim at national defense reforms towards the encouragement of civil and military relations that are crucial for a political system]
  • The United States of America Delivered Seven Artifacts to Cambodia [as part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between both countries]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5253, 18-19.7.2010

  • Seventy Five Guards Are Deployed to Protect Porpoises from Extinction [in Stung Treng]
  • Barai Tuek Thla Reservoir Resort Will Face Drought if There Is No Rain [it was built during the Angkor era – Siem Reap ]

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Justice in the Midst of Conflicts – Sunday, 24.1.2010

Posted on 26 January 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 648 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 648

The report on the increasing number of rapes, especially also of young girls less then 10 year old, in some cases ending with the killing of the victim, carried a terrifying comment: “Law enforcement by the relevant authorities, especially the courts, remained limited, as giving impunity to perpetrators continued,” continuing: “The number of cases brought to be heard at the courts was not so high, simply because of out of court arrangements.” Money is used instead of justice.

In another context, the Ratanakiri authorities are reported to have seized a truck with illegally logged wood after a Cambodian NGO and local citizens informed the authorities – but this is worse: Citizens who tried to report and to prevent forestry crimes were threatened by armed personnel, and the authorities do not dare to disclose the names of the powerful wood traders who hire citizens to commit these crimes. Power is used instead of justice.

In view of these and many other, specifically identified cases, there is not much value in discussing, in the abstract, whether Cambodia is a country to be described as under a state of law – because the Constitution says so – or not; the call to strengthen and to ensure effective law enforcement is also not very useful, unless it is accompanied by analyzing why law enforcement is so weak, and therefore: how this might change.

When I am traveling in Phnom Penh – that is normally on the back seat of a motorcycle-taxi – and I question the drivers why they breaks traffic rules, there is almost always a similar answer, with references that “everybody does it, especially the big cars: some without license plates, speeding on the middle of the road or on the wrong side, driving on, even if the traffic light is red, etc. etc.” If the law is not seen to be enforced equally on all, irrespective of money or power, it is very difficult to see how a state of law can be achieved. It can be achieved only when the very same authorities enforcing it are also following the law themselves.

Scanning regularly through news media from other countries, there is one item which is mentioned more and more: How do the Cambodian authorities consider the role of law in their relations with the neighboring country of Thailand? The armed clash yesterday at the border invited again regional concerns. And one concern discussed in other ASEAN countries, which have a tradition of not interfering into internal affairs of other members, is the fact that this seems to be happening now with the appointment of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, convicted for corruption but fugitive from Thailand, with an Interpol warrant, as an official adviser to the Cambodian government – disregarding the legal system of Thailand, and declaring a verdict for substantial financial corruption to be political. And by doing so importing – in spite of denials that this is not the intention – the political tensions of Thailand into Cambodia.

Several news items followed each other:

  • 14 January 2010: International media reported that Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra will visit Cambodia again, even “Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that Mr. Thaksin will visit Cambodia later this month.”

  • 15 January 2010: Mr. Noppadon Pattama, a legal adviser to Mr. Thaksin, said the plan for a visit had been canceled, but Mr. Thaksin would instead visit another country in Asia.
  • 17 January 2010: The Puea Thai Party chairperson Mr. Chavalit Yongchaiyuth meets Mr. Thaksin in Brunei, it is said that Mr. Thaksin would return to Cambodia late in January, staying several days.
  • 19 January 2010: Mr. Thaksin canceled his visit to Cambodia – according to a Khmer newspaper.
  • 21 January 2010: Mr. Thaksin arrived in Cambodia for a brief visit – no press conference, no lecture as economic advisor – only a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen is reported.
  • 22 January 2010: Mr. Thaksin demanded to close the legal case to expropriate his property.
  • 25 January 2010: Mr. Thaksin is reported to have declared already on 18 January 2010 he may set up a government in exile depending on political developments.

Of course the main stage for all this is in Thailand themselves, where extremely difficult problems are being faced: a mix of politics and the law, and the question is still open what will be the outcome of the conflicting dynamics between the two.

After Mr. Thaksin was ousted by a bloodless military coup in 2006, his in-country assets were frozen; the Thai supreme court is scheduled to decide on 26 February 2010, whether these US$2.3 billion – 2,300,000,000 US dollar! – were gained by the misuse of power and corruption as prime minister and will go to the state, or whether they were gained from his salary as a police officer and later businessman and will be returned to him. In addition, Mr. Thaksin said that he still has about US$100 million available abroad.

The attorney-general of Thailand, Mr. Julasing Wasantasing, shared the dilemma and his approach in an interview yesterday, Saturday, in The Nation, where he said that it is increasingly difficult for Thailand’s justice system to function, as there are two powerful pressure groups – the Yellow Shirts and the Red Shirts – trying to enforce their will: “I have been told I have to listen to the people. But when the people are divided into two camps, which side should I listen to?” When the course of the law is not followed, but instead the actions of the police or of prosecutors and judges are defined not by the law, he said: “We should stop and start anew. If every case is influenced by the yellow or red colors, Thailand’s problem is never going to end.”

The attorney-general has also been criticized, from both camps, when they were not happy with decisions based on the law, and he expressed his concern that “legal cases here are being judged by the public not on their legal merit, but on perceived political significance.” He summed up his own position in these conflicts by quoting John Quincy Adams, a US lawyer, diplomat, and politician, and finally the 6th president of the USA from 1825 to 1829. This was at a time when the USA were still a weak country – a “developing country” as we might say today.

“I can never join with my voice in the toast which I see in the papers attributed to one of our gallant naval heroes. I cannot ask of heaven success, even for my country, in a cause where our country might be in the wrong: ‘Let justice be done even if heaven should fall.’ My toast would be, may our country always be successful, but whether successful or otherwise, always right.”

If this position would be taken also in view of the tensions between Cambodia and Thailand – not success for oneself is the goal, but justice even if it is for the other side – what a good future could be developed soon together!

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Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia – Sunday, 15.11.2009

Posted on 18 November 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

Several mails I had received during the week requested what this week’s editorial should be about. Agreed. The visit of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra to Cambodia has more than any other recent event received wide international attention – at the same time it resulted in bringing a range of different and opposing issues to the surface, beyond the straightforward political tensions.

The disparities start with the wording, how the visitor is called in national and international media: the possibilities extend from the fond description of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as an “eternal friend” by Prime Minister Hun Sen, to the more neutral description when referring to the “former Thai prime minister ousted by a military coup,” to the references – and this not only in part of the Thai press – to the “convicted fugitive, because of corruption, and who finally violated the bail requirements and fled the country to avoid going to prison.”

This is the first controversy.

The Cambodian government did not only refuse to live up to the Cambodian-Thai extradition agreement, “considering the prosecution and legal process against Thaksin Shinawatra as a politically motivated proceeding,” and therefore even handed back the Thai documents submitted to seek Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s extradition. On the other hand, the Thai government and part of the Thai media felt that already that extending an invitation and offering the function to be an adviser to the Cambodian government were an insult to the legal system of Thailand.

As a public reaction in Thailand, the popularity of the Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, almost tripled, with appruval rates of 24% in September to 69% recently, according to a poll.

The interpretation of Prime Minister Hun Sen, that the present Cambodian-Thai dispute is basically a personal dispute between the two prime ministers, was not shared in the international press. More fundamental problems were touched upon: What does it mean for the international standing of a country when a search warrant by Interpol can be dismissed, after the fugitive, who is being sought under a “red alert” warrant, after a bail violation, and after a criminal conviction for corruption in dealing with the sale of valuable public property to a family member, up to the grotesque $60,000 event of the mysteriously mistaken box of chocolate.

How would such events be dealt with under a Cambodian anti-corruption law, due to be adopted by the National Assembly since a decade ago? If actions of corruption are committed in combination with political ones, are they then no longer subject to criminal prosecution?

There were several rumors and denials – that Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra would fly together with the Cambodian Prime Minister to the APEC meetings in Singapore.

Surprising also, that the Cambodian Prime Minister compared him to Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. In an interview with Times Online, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra said: “There are some similarities there, but not really everything. The similarity is we won elections, we rule the countries. We’ve been ousted by the coup d’etat and we come from the people. We are democratically elected leaders and we come from the majority of the people – a big majority, not just a small majority. She’s under house arrest, I’ve been kicked out of the country.”

The Cambodian government has never found such strong critical words against the ruling military in Myanmar. Will the Cambodian government also accept such advice and change its position? The statement “I’ve been kicked out of the country” contrasts with the fact that the self imposed exile abroad started with breaking bail arrangements with the Thai law enforcement authorities, traveling abroad without the promised return.

But the invitation to Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser may lead to a second kind of controversies.

Press reports in Cambodia were not enthusiastic about his speech in front of 300 selected economists. The Cambodian Daily said that his address “primarily dealt in generalities and contained little that Cambodian economists will not already know.” Not only that: Some of his advice runs contrary to some of the traditional approaches of Cambodian economic practice.

Thakshin Sinawatra became the favorite politician among a majority of the rural population in Thailand because of his new policy of favoring them directly, with debt relief and village loan funds administered by the local communities themselves. The revenue of the public and the private sector should, first of all, be directed towards the poorest sector of society, is his advice. Large scale land leasings to big companies in favorable relation with the government, leading to considerable groups of the rural population losing their land, coming to demonstrate in Phnom Penh, asking for justice, as happens so frequently in Cambodia, are not compatible which the vision of Thaksin Shinawatra’s economic policies.

Surprising is also his emphasis on the need of reconciliation and good neighborliness between Cambodia and Thailand, in order to foster Cambodia’s economic development, including the promotion of Thailand and Cambodia together for international tourism, presenting themselves as a “joint destination.” This runs against many recent antagonistic trends: the Thai government had proposed to submit Preah Vihear together with the Cambodian government to the World Heritage Committee, which was flatly rejected by the Cambodian side. During the last year there were even plans discussed in Cambodia to create an international airport 500 meters below the mountain range where Preah Vihear is situated, which is conveniently accessible from the north, from Thailand. This plan, to exclude the natural access to Preah Vihear – and therefore tourism via Thailand, was soon given up again as economically completely unreal. The public outcry some years ago, when Bangkok Airways had named one of its airplanes Angkor Wat – while other planes are named according to other international destinations, promoting tourism to these places – has no place in this context. The Cambodian Daily reported his emphasis on the need for cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia, as the two countries’ economic fortunes are inextricably linked – adding: “Of course, not all my compatriots see it that way right now.” Those who see it differently in Thailand are assumed to suffer from being shortsighted, driven by false patriotism.

One may ask whether the anti-Thai actions of 2003, when the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh was ransacked because of a baseless rumor, resulting in further arson so that the hardware damage alone of that night was estimated at US$56 million, and the tensions before and after the designation of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site, would also fall under a similar verdict by Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, that a false patriotism is in the way also in some of the Cambodian attitudes and actions.

It is surprising to consider how future suggestions of the new economic adviser of the Cambodian government will be handled, while land conflicts in rural areas continue, further large scale leasings of land are under consideration inviting countries from the Middle East to start agro-business ventures, and Japanese companies are considering to create new large tree planting schemes in Cambodia.

Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s suggestions may not only be unwelcome in his own country. They run counter to major trends of present day Cambodian big business.

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Cambodian-Thai Relations – Present and Former Prime Ministers – Sunday, 8.11.2009

Posted on 8 November 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 637 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

Returning to Cambodia, on the way to the airport in Bangkok on 6.11.2009, the driver of the taxi I took – as soon as he knew that I was going to Cambodia – spoke almost the whole way about his surprise and anger that the former Thai prime minister, who was convicted to go to prison for being implicated in big, illegally land dealings in the Ratchadapisek area of Bangkok, and who lied to the court when he left the country on bail “for some days only” but never came back, is now invited by the Cambodian Prime Minister to come to Cambodia as adviser to the government. “Are there no laws against corruption in Cambodia?” – Surely, another taxi driver might have had a different evaluation; but it was an impressive outburst of firm convictions.

In the meantime, various voices have called for moderation.

The ASEAN Secretary General is quoted to have written: “We in ASEAN cannot afford to be seen as being so seriously divided prior to the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders Meeting and the historic ASEAN-US Leaders Meeting in Singapore this month,” in a letter to the foreign ministers of the region.

Also, the Chinese People’s Daily Online reported the concerns made public by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, that the recent dispute between Thailand and Cambodia is not good for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). “It is not good for ASEAN. We hope that both our friends will keep the larger interest of ASEAN in mind and find a way to resolve their differences quickly in a spirit of good neighborliness.”

The Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio said Japan was ‘concerned’ about the recent tensions between Cambodia and Thailand because Phnom Penh had offered a position to a fugitive Thai citizen. “I am concerned about the recent situation,” Mr. Hatoyama told Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to a Japanese official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Cambodian official voices have rejected the opinion, expressed widely in Thai media, that the appointment of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra is an intervention into the internal affairs of Thailand and an insult to the legal system of Thailand, stressing that Cambodia is a sovereign state and does not have to ask for the permission of another country when inviting and appointing a foreign national.

The Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban agreed – partially – saying: “It’s Cambodia’s internal affair. But if we have evidence that Thaksin is in Cambodia, we will surely ask the Cambodian government to extradite him,” according to the extradition agreement between the two countries.

In the meantime, it had been reported that Mr. Thaksin, who used to live in Dubai in self-selected exile, has been flying, in his private jet, with a diplomatic passport of Nicaragua, to different countries in the Pacific, in search of the possibility to set up his presence in a country that does not have an extradition treaty with Thailand; he is reported to have been in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Vanuatu. It was also reported that he narrowly avoided arrest during a stopover in Malaysia.

While the Cambodian Prime Minister invited the former Thai Prime Minister as his “eternal friend” and does not recognize the convictions for corruption pronounced by Thai courts, and therefore will reject to live up to the clauses of the bilateral extradition treaty, legal complications have been recognized by other countries, since Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra is recognized as a fugitive by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), with an Interpol “red notice,” which, in a number of countries, serves as a legal basis for arrest. Cambodia is a proud member of Interpol already since 1956, shortly after the 1953 independence from France, and there have been several cases of international Interpol actions, with Cambodian cooperation, also in 2009.

The future is unclear. While writing these lines, the two following reports from the Japanese news agency Kyodo came in:

Thai premier urges Hun Sen to behave as ‘good neighbor’

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva urged Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday to behave like a ”good neighbor” and reconsider his appointment of ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser

Thaksin to give economics lecture in Phnom Penh on Thursday

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Sunday that ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will visit Cambodia to give a lecture on economic matters in Phnom Penh on Thursday

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Positions of Judges, of Prosecutors, and of Clerks Are Reformed on a Large Scale – Wednesday, 14.1.2009

Posted on 15 January 2009. Filed under: Week 595 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

On Monday, 12 January 2009, we had the 100,000th visit to the Mirror – starting from January 2007.

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

“Phnom Penh: The fourth term Royal Government starts to implement reform strategies for the court system as the first priority by beginning to change the positions of judges, of prosecutors, and of clerks countrywide on a large scale.

“The Minister of Justice, Mr. Ang Vong Vathana, told the Kampuchea Thmey that the Royal Government plans to reshuffle court leaders countrywide, but not depending on wrongdoing as the only reason.

“He said that the reform of the court system was made the first priority in order to be in line with the political mechanisms of the new term Royal Government in the second phase of the Rectangular Strategy.

“He went on to say that as the basis of good governance it is necessary to build the legal basis; if the resources of those who implement the law at the basis are not strong and fair, good governance will not function smoothly as it is needed.

“Mr. Ang Vong Vathana said also that reforms of court officials will be made by the Supreme Council of the Magistracy in this morning on 14 January 2009. Reshuffles of court officials are not made only with judges, with prosecutors, and with clerks, but also with court presidents. However, Mr. Ang Vong Vathana did not mention the names of those who will be reshuffled, but just told primarily that a prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Mr. Ouk Savuth, will be replaced by Mr. Yen Chakriya. Mr. Ouk Savuth will be appointed to work as deputy prosecutor of the Appeals Court.

Note: Article 21 of the Cambodian Constitution:

Upon proposals by the Council of Ministers, the King shall sign decrees (Kret) appointing, transferring or ending the mission of high civil and military officials, ambassadors and Envoys Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Upon proposals by the Supreme Council of the Magistracy, the King shall sign decrees (Kret) appointing, transferring or removing judges.

“Mr. Ang Vong Vathana stressed that these reappointments are normal, but some court officials are replaced also due to wrongdoings, and some hold their positions already four years and must be reshuffled. Nevertheless, most of these reforms, as they relate to court officials, are only a change from one place to another place.

“Previously, the court system was strongly criticized for being corrupt, and most victims were poor people while most people who won court cases were the powerful.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1846, 14.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #3, 14.1.2009

  • The President of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights [Mr. Ou Virak]: Freedom of Expression and Press Freedom in Cambodia Are Limited [in 2008, because journalists were threatened to be sued at courts, jailed, and murdered, while the authorities have not found murderers or those who support them for prosecution]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #106, 14-15.1.2009

  • The Embassy of Nepal Asks to Build of Pagodas in the Nepalese Style in Cambodia

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #16, .1.2009

  • Positions of Judges, of Prosecutors, and of Clerks Are Reformed on a Large Scale
  • A Canadian Man Was Arrested for Debauchery [with four underage children, two boys and two girls – Kompong Cham]

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #323, 14.1.2009

  • The United States of America Decides to Grant Military Aid of More Than US$600,000 [to Cambodia]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6551, 14.1.2009

  • In 2008, There Were 268 Crimes of Rape Committed [with 285 victims – among them 165 were underage – and 340 perpetrators were involved, compared to 2007, there were 301 cases]; This Inhuman Act Is Still an Extremely Serious Issue
  • Eclipse of the Sun Will Occur on 26 January 2009 and Cambodia Can See This Natural Phenomenon on Chinese New Year
  • [Around 300] Students and Villagers Block a Road to Stop the Transporting of [ about 50] Trucks Loaded with Stone [the transportation damages the road, causes dust, and creates disturbing noise – Siam Reap]
  • Nearly 200 Million People Start to Travel to Their Home Towns [to celebrate the Chinese New Year on 26 January 2009]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3665, 14.1.2009

  • Co-Defense Lawyers of Nuon Chea Said that They Are Being Intimidated by Judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [who prepare to sue them back for filling request for the clarification of corruption allegation, considered to be a defamation, and a disgrace for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1402, 14.1.2009

  • A Korean Man Shot by Another Korean Man Died at the Calmette Hospital [two other perpetrators are not yet found]
  • A Man Who had Killed a [three-year-old] Girl and Her Grandmother with Acid Was Arrested [in Kampot]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4794, 14.1.2009

  • The Cambodian Prime Minister Starts an Official Visit to Kuwait
  • Dey Krahom Dispute: The Municipality Offers US$20,000 [to 91 families still not prepared to move away], but he Residents Disagree
  • World Bank Grants a Loan of US$10 Million to Develop the Agriculture
  • The Royal Government Provides a Loan of US$15 Million to the Cambodian Rice Millers Association to Buy Paddy Rice for Stock
  • Ms. In Soklida Wants to Withdraw Nearly US$30,000 from the [Cambodian] Canadia Bank [from a joint bank account with Ms. Chea Ratha, with whom she had an affair and who is now hiding in a foreign country being accused of involvement in an acid attack against Ms. In Soklida’s aunt]
  • Siamese [Thai] Troops Prevented a Khmer Company to Continue Constructing Fences [for building a casino] at the Cham Border Crossing [Anlong Veng, Oddar Meanchey]

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

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.


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Saturday, 9.8.2008: Officials and Staff of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Have Not Received Their Salaries because of a Corruption Scandal

Posted on 10 August 2008. Filed under: week 572 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 572

“Recently, the UN Development Program office [UNDP] decided to delay the transfer of funds for the salaries of more than US$300,000 for Khmer officials and staff of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, after there were complaints about corruption at the Cambodian side. The delayed salaries for around 250 Cambodian officials and staff are for July.

“Ms. Amy Brown [phonetic], UNDP public relations officer, explained by e-mail that the decision to delay the transfer of salary funds for the Khmer staff was made after new claims about corruption had been made. At present, UNDP and donor countries are reviewing everything related to the case. She explained that the UNDP had decided to delay the transfer of the salaries in order to assure the integrity of the funds.

“The UN spokesperson of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Peter Foster, said that some Cambodian officials and staff had lodged complaints to the UN relating to corruption and to some other irregularities. A UN oversight office in New York checking internal problems is investigating these cases.

“Regarding the aforementioned problems, Ms. Helen Jarvis, a public affairs official of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, did not explain the reasons for the delay of the Khmer staff salaries, she just considered it to be related to a late availability of the funds for the salaries. She said, ‘As it is known already, there are US$300,000 for the salaries for July, but we do not yet have the possibility to provide the July salaries. However, all together we are still waiting for much bigger funds than the funds to provide the salaries.’

“Both Ms. Helen Jarvis and Mr. Peter Foster explained that negotiations are proceeding to solve these problems, and solutions will be found soon. It is not the first time that the Khmer staff of the Cambodian side of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal receive late salaries, but it is the first time that the UNDP delays the Khmer staff’s salaries in order to investigate corruption.

“In early 2007, an organization concerned with law reform activities, which has its seat in New York in the USA – the Open Society Justice Initiative – revealed that it had received information about Cambodian staff paying part their salaries as a kick-back to officials of the Khmer government in return for having been employed at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. What the Open Society Justice Initiative had raised made Sean Visoth, the head of the administration of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, very angry, and he announced to stop cooperating with this US organization.

“It should be noted that the UNDP administers the funds to provide the salaries of Khmer staff from the Cambodian section of the site.

“This new scandal makes the public aware that the international community starts to have less and less trust in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, because the scandal of 2007 is not yet solved, and now there is another shameful scandal. It is therefore not so easy for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to seek additional millions of dollars to operate until the end. So far, in addition to Japan, France, Australia, and Germany, no other countries provide additional funds for this mixed tribunal [with a Cambodian and a United Nations component].

“Recently, officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal reported that the trial of Kang Kek Ieu, called Duch, the former chief of the Tuol Sleng Prison, will be conducted in September or October, but what causes serious concern is that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is facing a serious financial crisis – and it is facing a shameful corruption scandal. So this crisis might delay the trial of former senior Khmer Rouge leaders, where all the suspects, who are being detained in the special Khmer Rouge Tribunal detention center, are old and have serious and alarming illnesses.

“Nevertheless, Khmer citizens in Cambodia and abroad want the trial of Duch, as well as of other former senior Khmer Rouge leaders, to happen as soon as possible as long as they are still alive and are able to reveal facts while standing trial. But if the trial is still delayed, the suspects detained for trial might die one by one, and the secrets of the Killing Field regime will be buried with their deaths. Therefore, the sooner the trail of the former senior Khmer Rouge leaders is held, the better, because the health of Khiev Samphan and of Ieng Sary is getting worse.

“Observers of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal since it was started said that, if this mixed tribunal has the intention to find justice for more than 1.7 million Khmer citizens who were killed during the Killing Field regime, the trial of Duch has to happen in September or October as planned. If not, it means that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has no intention to find justice for the victims, and Khmer citizens will never see the light of real justice. Therefore the international community and donor countries must press on with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, to try the suspects soon as a warning for the next Khmer leaders not to repeat a cruel massacre like the former Khmer Rouge leaders committed.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3534, 9-10.8.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 9 August 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1715, 9.8.2008

  • The Situation at the Ta Moan Temple Seems to Be Unchanged; Khmer and Siamese [Thai] Troops Patrol the Temple Together
  • A Mother Led [her three] Children to Plant Corn in a Field and Stepped on a Mine and Triggered an Explosion which Killed Her [7-year-old] Son and Seriously Injured Three Persons [including the mother, and her five-year-old and nine-month-old daughters]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #212, 9.8.2008

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #69, 9.8.2008

  • The Cambodian Center for Human Rights Welcomed the Commitment of the Government [expressed trough a speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen to arrest the murderers and those who are responsible for the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and of his 21-year-old son]
  • Three Opposition Parties [the Sam Rainsy Party, the Human Rights Party, and the Norodom Ranariddh Party] Plan to Boycott the Swearing-In Ceremony [planned for the inaugural session of he new parliament on 24 September 2008]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6419, 9-10.8.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor [Prime Minister Hun Sen] Requests to Construct a Road to the Preah Vihear Temple and a Road from Anlong Veng to Srah Eaem
  • A Book about “Understanding Trauma in Cambodia” Is Published on a Website [of the Center for Social Development, on the role of psychology for Cambodian people]
  • [Thousands of] Exiled Tibetans Hold Demonstrations in Nepal and India [7 August 2008]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3534, 9-10.8.2008

  • Officials and Staff of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Have Not Received Their Salaries because of a Corruption Scandal
  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Authorities Are Restricting the Rights of Kampuchea Krom Khmer Citizens in [former] Svay Tong District, Moat Chruk Province [so called in Khmer in French colonial time, now part of Vietnam, called An Gian Province] More Strongly [by not allowing them to set up satellite television antennas at their houses – click here for information from Vietnam with reference to the Khmer population]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4663, 9.8.2008

  • Appeals Court Decided to Allow Ms. Chea Ratha’s Assistant [Mr. Ea Vuthea, involved in an acid attack on Ms. In Soklida’s aunt on 8 May 2008] to Be Temporarily Released from Detention; Ms. In Soklida Continues to Hide Herself at a Safe Place because of Fear [of revenge]
  • Price of Electricity in Pursat Increased to US$0.50 per Kilowatt [from the previous price of US$0.40]; It Increased Two Days after the Election Day
  • [Former Thai prime minister] Thaksin: I Will Not Escape from the Country [regarding his court cases, that he might be sentenced to jail]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3380, 9.8.2008

  • USAID Sponsored to Produce a Serial Drama [describing the Cambodian legal system] Which Will Be Showed on Televisions Starting Late This Week
  • Civil Society Organizations Call on Generous People to Help the Families of Soldiers Who Are Protecting the Borders [at the Preah Vihear regions]

Click here to have a look at the last editorial – where we try to provide our readers with important information which all publications in Cambodia – as far as we can see – are not providing; but the international community knows more – we wonder how long the Cambodian public can be held uninformed.

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