Opinion Research Shows Result That the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Is Corrupt – Monday, 19.1.2009

Posted on 20 January 2009. Filed under: Week 596 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Would you like easy access to the editions of The Mirror directly by e-mail, and keep them on your harddisk? Or have a “newsfeed”? You can “subscribe” for free!

Click on Subscribe to The Mirror (not here, but on the blue letters to the right of the text, underneath Have a look at last week’s editorial and Previous editorials). You are offered several possibilities to select from. If you do not have any other preferences, we recommend:

Get The Mirror delivered by e-mail

And follow the questions.
.

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 596

“As Khmer judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal threaten, in January 2009, to sue co-defense lawyers of Nuon Chea, the former head of the People’s Assembly of the Democratic Kampuchea regime [the Khmer Rouge], they are destroying justice at the mixed court.

“In a statement released on 9 January 2009, the 15 Khmer judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia threatened to sue three foreign defense lawyers, defending ‘Brother Number 2,’ Nuon Chea, by taking legal action. Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers lodged a criminal complaint at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to investigate corruption allegations at this tribunal, which had been reported for a long time. Because the allegations says that Khmer judges and other officials paid kickbacks to high-ranking Khmer officials to get employed at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, earning thousands of dollars salaries every month.

“The complaint by Nuon Chea’s lawyers was lodged at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, to investigate Mister Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Council of Ministers, who is in charge of Khmer Rouge Tribunal affairs, Mister Sean Visoth, the director of the Office of Administration of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and Mister Keo Thyvuth, the former chief of the personnel section of the tribunal.

“The defense lawyers of Nuon Chea had not mentioned the names of Khmer judges in their complaint, nor in their statement for the journalists, who had gathered at the Municipal Court last week to report about the process of that complaint. However, the judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal seem to know by themselves that Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers’ complaint will really lead the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to investigate them, because Khmer judges may have also agreed to let high-ranking Khmer officials to cut part of their salaries as kickback in exchange for the agreement to let them work as judges in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“The deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court started to summon some Khmer officials from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal for questionings about corruption, in order to find evidence and witnesses of corruption related crimes, because the Khmer Rouge Tribunal was created in an attempt to seek justice for around 1.7 million Khmer victims who died during the Black Pajamas regime, lasting 3 years, 8 months, and 20 days. But now, this tribunal committed corruption and is making international groups to loose trust in it.

“Besides the role to seek justice for victims under the Pol Pot brutal genocidal regime, it is hoped that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will play a model role for the court system in Cambodia to perform just and independent hearings and judgments, and to eliminate corruption and impunity (a state of no punishment for the powerful and the rich who commit different crimes, but who are not brought to be prosecuted). But such hope almost dissolved when allegations about a corruption scandal at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal emerged recently in public.

“The acting director of the lawyers section of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Richard Rogers, said that the reaction by the Khmer judges against the complaint of Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers can be perceived as if this mixed tribunal were reluctant to deal with the allegations of corruption by kickbacks, and this can frighten witnesses of Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers.

“Mr. Richard Rogers added, ‘Now the public sees that the judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, that is expected to be a neutral defender of justice, is threatening to take legal action against Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers. The judges should have thought thoroughly before making such a threat, as it seems that they are afraid that Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers’ complaint is also a complaint against themselves.’

“According to a new research by the Human Rights Center at the University of California at Berkeley, Mr. Richard Rogers said that a survey conducted in Cambodia among 1,000 young people shows that 23% of them considered the present Khmer Rouge Tribunal to be corrupt, and one third of them think that the judges of the Khmer Rouge tribunal are not just.

Note:

So We Will Never Forget – Results of a Cambodian survey on attitudes about social reconstruction and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. – Presentation in English with translation to Khmer, Friday, 23 January 2009, auditorium, Paññasastra University, Phnom Penh, at 14:00.

“Mr. Richard Rogers went on to say that this research again supports the perception of many people that the corruption allegations at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have to be settled with transparency, if the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is to maintain justice under the eyes of the Khmer general public. Mr. Richard Rogers added, ‘Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers must know well the extent of this corruption, if corruption really occurred, in order to decide whether that corruption affects the rights for just hearings of their defendants or not’

“The Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s co-investing judge You Bunleng said that Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers’ complaint affects the reputation of the judges and of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal as a whole. Mr. You Bunleng continued to say that Nuon Chea’s lawyers linked those judges in their statement given to the press. Nuon Chea’s lawyers should make efforts to work hard to find evidence to defend their case, otherwise they will be sued for defamation by the Khmer judges.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3669, 19.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 19 January 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #6, 19.1.2009

  • Civil Society Organizations [Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, Cambodian Defenders Project, and Cambodian National Research Organization] and [Sam Rainsy Party] Parliamentarian Condemn the Heng Development Company for Using Armed Forces to Shoot at Citizens
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Asks the Government to Prepare a Special Budget of US$500 Million to Face the Challenge of the Economic Crisis

Deum Tnot, Vol.2, #329, 19.1.2009

  • The President and Members of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia Inform [the Phnom Penh municipality] about a Flower March to Honor the Soul of Mr. Chea Vichea on the Fifth Anniversary of His Death [the former president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia was murdered on 22 January 2004]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1850, 18-19.1.2009

  • Every Year, 1,800 Cambodian Women Die During Childbirth [according to the Chargé d’Affaires of the European Commission in Cambodia, Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno]
  • During Recent Years, Cambodia Achieved Macroeconomic Stability [according Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon, the average income of a Cambodian citizen per year increased from US$247 in 1994 to US$625 in 2008]
  • An Australian Man Was Found Lying Dead in a [Phnom Penh] Guesthouse on the Day He Was to Leave to Sihanoukville
  • A Girl Had Lied that She Escaped from the House Where She Worked for a Wage in Fact Had Escaped from Her Own House [after quarreling with her older brother; her mother came to take her back from police, and she apologized for her daughter’s lies – Phnom Penh]
  • Israel Prepares to Declare a Ceasefire Unilaterally for Three Weeks in Gaza

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #329, 18-20.1.2009

  • [The president of the Cambodian Action Committee for Justice & Equity] Suon Serey Ratha Asks [the Minister of Interior] Mr. Sar Kheng to Release more Information about Murder Cases [of politicians, artists, trader union leaders, journalists, and monks] and about Arrest Murderers Made, Leading to Prosecution

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #186, 18-19.1.2009

  • The Government Should Take Action against the Heng Development Company That Used Armed Forces to Shoot at Citizens [injuring three people in Kandal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6555, 19.1.2009

  • The [Khmer Rouge] Tribunal Recognizes only 42 of the Approximately 2,000 Civil Party Plaintiffs [no reasons given]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3669, 19.1.2009

  • Opinion Research Shows Result That the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Is Corrupt

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4798, 1819.1.2009

  • The Kandal Provincial Governor Claims the Control over the [contested] Land by the Heng Development Company Is Legal [Mr. Chun Sirun said that the company has many legal documents for the land, based on the verdict number 40V, dated 2 October 2006, and on the verdict number 12V, dated 26 February 2007, released by Kandal court, and the police said that protesters hit them and broke the windows of two machineries of the company]
  • The Government Issued an Order that Civil Servants Have to Retire whn Reaching the Age Limit [of 55 – an extension is not allowed]
  • A Man Who Raped His [16-year-old] Daughter Almost 40 Times Is Arrested [Sihanoukville]

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.

Back to top

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

Perception and Reality – Again – Sunday, 18.1.2009

Posted on 19 January 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 595 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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

Thanks for your interest.

Would you like easy access to the editions of The Mirror directly by e-mail, and keep them on your harddisk? Or have a “newsfeed”? You can “subscribe” for free!

Click on Subscribe to The Mirror (not here, but on the blue letters to the right of the text, underneath Have a look at last week’s editorial and Previous editorials). You are offered several possibilities to select from. If you do not have any other preferences, we recommend:

Get The Mirror delivered by e-mail

And follow the questions.
.

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

In the Mirror, we have taken up the public importance of perceptions several times over the years.

Actually, we had raised this question at the beginning of the publication of The Mirror on the Internet in January 2007, with reference to Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia under the tile “Perception and Reality.” At his inauguration, he had pointed to the important role of perceptions held by the public – which may or may not conform to reality, but are nevertheless extremely important for the political situation of a country.

And Dato Seri Syed Hamid Albar, as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, took up the concern for the role of perceptions, saying that “negative developments do not contribute to creating a climate of confidence in the world, which is vitally necessary for all of us, regardless of different faiths and beliefs, to live in peace and harmony.”

Not only the reality is important – but how it is understood and interpreted what is heard and seen – this too is extremely important. Some good things may be misunderstood as if they were bad. But if many things heard and seen result in negative perceptions, it can have deeply devastating consequences for a seemingly well functioning society.

This week, we list up some reports – really not knowing how the public can help to clarify what is confused, to avoid moving further down into the dark.

The international Human Rights Organization Human Rights Watch had, in its 2009 report covering the situation of many countries, also criticized Cambodia.

Human Rights Watch does not report only about notoriously criticized countries like Myanmar, but it deals also with the human rights situation – to name some more countries – in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and in the United States of America. Many of these countries take problems raised very seriously.

The brief Cambodia section of the Events of 2008 is followed by about 20 additional, detailed background documents

The content of all this is – unfortunately – not new: criticism of the criminal justice system, cases of intimidation, violence, imprisonments. Endemic impunity, rampant corruption, and illegal plundering of natural resources. And: Cambodia is due to be reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the UN Human Rights Commission in December 2009.

Most cases had been reported in the Khmer press during the year, quite a number also we had mirrored.

The official Cambodian reaction was reported in the Cambodia Daily as follows:

“Om Yentieng, head of the government’s human rights committee, dismissed the report’s findings, saying Human Rights Watch was defaming the country with lies and, in the process, making themselves foolish.

‘I refuse all of the accusations,’ he said, ‘they are just trying to make up things, or they just want to spoil heir name. They are playing the role as a puppet in order to gain an advantage for themselves.’”

(Cambodia Daily, 16 January 2009)

As an illustration of the gap between this perception and the reality we point to some reports mirrored during the past week – small and big events:

  • When people need public certifications or documentation, there are often no publicly displayed fees, saying transparently what is to be paid – “The price of a certificate, to get employment, to register the place of residence, or to get married is US$5.00, but the price goes up with its urgency – US$5.00 for one month – US$45.00 for 15 days, US$100.00 for one week, and US$150.00 for one day.” Similar arrangements may be in place in other countries too. But the report claims what is said to be general knowledge: “…these extra charges do not go to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.”
  • When a family had lost their new born son in a hospital formerly supported by Japan, the following financial dealings were reported. They had been going on for some time, but nobody had dared to speak up. – “There are notices written on the walls of the Japanese hospital with big Khmer letters on blue background, saying please do not pay anything to the staff, but only to the cashiers. Patients who are not able to pay for the services are invited to contact a monitoring group, and if someone asks for money in addition to the prescribed fees, they should be reported to the monitoring group. The service charges are approx. US$3.50 for a woman delivering her first baby; the normal room charge is approx. US$2.50 per night. – However, everything is different from the above prohibition notice. Each patient pays extra money in addition to the services, such as approx. US$10.00 to US$30.00 for doctors, approx. USUS$2.50 to each medical staff who injects three syringes three times per day etc. A woman said that, when the head of her baby appeared half way, first the doctors asked her how much money she would offer them. That woman offered them approx. US$12.00, but the doctors demanded more. Because she begged that that was all the money she had, they agreed. This is an incredible story, but that was what that woman said herself. Another woman staying in the next bed offered the doctors US$5.00, but only when they arrived at the sum of US$30.00 they agreed.”
  • When defense lawyers at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal were unable to get information about alleged kickbacks of Khmer staff – to higher level persons, for having received their positions – which would have satisfied them that there will be no unfairness in the trials, they finally filed a request for clarification of these corruption allegation at the Phnom Penh court. Now they feel intimidated by judges who prepare to sue them for defamation – instead of being grateful that the allegations could be refuted by a court forever.
  • When a delegation from the Senate and from human rights groups tried to inspect and to check forest sites allegedly cleared for planting rubber trees in Ratanakiri, the DM Group, the company under suspicion, prevented them from fulfilling their task.
  • When a Danish Woman had bought several thousand over-the-counter painkiller tablets with codeine, that can be easily and legally bought at many pharmacies all over Phnom Penh, and she tried to mail them at the Post Office – they are cheap here, and she hoped to sell them abroad to make some small extra money to support her son – she was arrested. Now she was convicted to serve 15 years in prison and fined approx. US$7,500 for drug trafficking. None of the press report said anything about any involvement with illegal substances.
  • When 234 families felt threatened as owners of their land by the Heng Development Company, they were satisfied that the Kandal provincial court had confirmed their land rights on 26 February 2007. But now the company deployed machinery and started to clear their land. When the legal owners protested, the company told them that the Kandal court had made a wrong judgment. The Military Police in Kandal Stung, led by their commander – a nephew of the director of the Heng Development Company – deployed 20 to 30 armed military police who opened fire with their AK-47 rifles – at least three men were seriously injured.
  • When it was reported that the US company PHI Mining had bought the Indochina Mining Corporation, now a subsidiary of PHI Mining, and that it now cooperates with the Cambodian company Angkor Metal Corporation, it was not big news. But maybe it had been big news before, and we had missed to see it – or it should have been big news. As we have mirrored yesterday, his cooperation relates to Cambodian natural resources , where the initial valuation of this copper ore area is estimated at USUS$1 billion. And we also mirrored yesterday that the Angkor Metal Corporation does not disclose much about itself in the way other companies do, though the US partner company writes that the “Founders of Angkor Metal Corporation include a son and a son-in-law of Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, thus ensuring political support to acquire and extend mining license.”
  • The Constitution of Cambodia says:

    The National Assembly shall approve the national budget, State planning, loans, financial contracts, and the creation, modification and annulment of tax. (Article 90)

    We do not have information about any public bidding for the financial contract for national mineral resources, which the Angkor Metal Corporation finally got, neither do we have information on the status of the National Assembly approval procedures for the project and loan agreements – in the range of US$500 million – which are, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, already signed by Cambodia and by Kuwait.

    As stated initially, in public politics the perception of what is going on is often more important for the public democratic process than the reality – so we raised all the issues above – all based on information which was either in Cambodian newspapers, or which is available publicly on the Internet. Prime Minister Badawi had accepted, therefore, the need for self-criticism in searching for the reasons for such perceptions. But at the same time he considered it necessary to engage in identifying what he saw as “wanton violations of human dignity, natural justice, human rights and international law.”

    A good example.

    Please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

    Back to top

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

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