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.

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Malaysian Investors and Investments Are Coming to Cambodia while Cambodia Is Still Unable to Export Its Products – Monday, 10.5.2010

Posted on 11 May 2010. Filed under: Week 664 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

“The Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak is paying a three-day official visit to Cambodia which started on Sunday; he will chair a meeting for the signing of six commercial agreements worth US$1 billion.

“Five commercial agreements will be signed by the private sectors of Cambodia and of Malaysia, and another agreement will be signed between a Malaysian company and the Cambodian government.

“Also Mr. Hun Sen will attend the signing ceremony. The agreements to be signed focus on the educational sector, the technical field, security, the Halal food industry (food containing no pork, prepared according to Muslim regulations), agriculture, training, and the exchange of products.

“This is the first official visit of Mr. Razak since he became prime minister last year. This visit is considered important for the strengthening of bilateral ties with Cambodia. According to officials of the Malaysian Embassy in Cambodia, the entire commerce between both countries in 2009 amounted to just US$150 million. About 90% of the commerce was exports of textile products, palm oil, food, and drinks from Malaysia, while the other 10% was export of goods, rubber, textiles, and rice from Cambodia.

“The Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia said that there are a lot of opportunities for Malaysian investors to come to invest in various sectors in Cambodia, such as education, health care, construction, the Halal food industry, tourism, oil, and gas. At present, Malaysia is the fourth biggest foreign investor in Cambodia after China, South Korea, and Yuon [Vietnam].

“The investments from Malaysia include sports infrastructure, hotels, education, banking, and fast food. Trade and investments between Cambodia and Malaysia are expected to double while the region is moving towards the ASEAN Economic Association in 2015, which will allow the free flow of goods, capital, and people. The Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia stressed that Malaysian investors consider Cambodia as an important country for investments, as Cambodia is located in the Mekong River Basin, comprising of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, with a total population of 100 million.

“During this visit, 117 Malaysian investors will participate in the private sector conversation, and Mr. Razak and Mr. Hun Sen will chair the Cambodian-Malaysian commercial forum and a lunch reception. Also the leaders of the two countries will chair a meeting to sign six commercial agreements.

“The Malaysian Prime Minister will meet with the Cambodia side to discuss bilateral affairs at the Council of Ministers, and he will visit the Esata Operations Center, a Cambodian-Malaysian telecommunications company, the construction site of a new building for the Malaysian Embassy in Cambodia, and the Kunthak Bopha IV Hospital. On the last day, he will meet the Khmer King Norodom Sihamoni, the president of the Senate, Mr. Chea Sim, and the president of the National Assembly, Mr. Heng Samrin.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #764, 10.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 10 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #473, 9-10.5.2010

  • The Cabinet of the Prime Minister Rejected a Request for Intervention [from citizens] over a Land Dispute in Kandal Stung District [with the Heng Development company, Kandal. The PM had looked into the case already in 2009 and came to the conclusion that the 842 families involved have no right to own the disputed land of 200 hectares]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2244, 1-10.5.2010

  • The Film Who Killed Chea Vichea Cannot Be Played at Any Place as Long as There Is No Permission [according to Sub-Decree 63 of the government, Article 20 says that before the operation, playing, leasing, and selling of all types of films, it is necessary to ask for permission from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. A secretary of state of this ministry said that this film cannot be played publicly, but it can be played privately, for example in a room with a small audience]

Note:

It is surprising to observe that thousands of pornographic CDs and DVDs are being sold publicly all over town, and many of them are shown in some restaurants or coffee shops. Were they all legally imported and did they all first receive the permission from the Ministry of Culture and Fina Arts? Probably yes? Because they are being operated, played, leased, and sold in public – so the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts is aware of this. But there are no reports that the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts is dealing with them with a similar intensity, comparable to the attention it is giving to Who Killed Chea Vichea.

  • The Number of People Suffering from Diarrhea in Kratie Increases to 51 [there is no recent report whether there is testing also for Cholera being performed – as some medical practitioners claim that there is also Cholera in Cambodia. The assertion by some medical authorities that the treatment for Diarrhea and for Cholera is the same is wrong]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #764, 10.5.2010

  • Malaysian Investors and Investments Are Coming to Cambodia while Cambodia Is Still Unable to Export Its Products

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6951, 10.5.2010

  • Robbers Continue to Commit Robberies in Battambang, Taking Away 100 Chi of Gold [approx. US$14,000] while the Authorities Have Not Identified the Robbers Who Took Away US$100,000

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3875, 10.5.2010

  • The Ministry of Education Should Eliminate Corrupt Nepotism in the Department of Education of Preah Vihear [it is claimed that some positions are controlled by leaders, their in-law, daughters, and their groups of friends]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #167, 10.5.2010

  • Cambodia and Malaysia Will Sign Commercial Agreements for US$1 Billion Today
  • [The Phnom Penh Sugar] Company Sends More Soldiers [more than 150] to Protect Its Land [provided by the government as concession land; Amleang commune, Thpong district, Kompong Speu. The company which is being protected by soldiers is one of the companies which “sponsors” military units]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5193, 9-10.5.2010

  • A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Defense, a Member of FUNCINPEC [Mr. Hun Phoeung] Was Removed from His Position [Prime Minister Hun Sen accused him of working for an opposition party]
  • More Than US$7 Million Was Collected [as charitable donations] during the Celebration of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Anniversary on 8 May
  • Two Died and Twelve Others Were Injured in New Shootings in Bangkok

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1892, 9.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: Let’s See whether [the Phnom Penh municipal governor] Mr. Kep Chuktema Dares to Remove [Chamkar Mon district governor] Lo Yuy over Corruption, as He Had Said, or Not [recently he warned to revoke the Chamkar Mon district governor for being inactive, not suppressing illegal activities in his district]

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ECPAT Cambodia: Rape of Women and Children Increased in 2009 to 322 Cases – Monday, 18.1.2010

Posted on 19 January 2010. Filed under: Week 648 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 648

“Phnom Penh: Rape is, according to the law, as a serious crime – perpetrators and colluders can be jailed up to 20 years and they will also be fined. How did the situation of rape change in 2009 in Cambodia?

“End Child Prostitution, Abuse, and Trafficking in Cambodia (ECPAT) published figures of rape, of sex trafficking, and of debauchery based on reports in five local newspapers: Koh Santepheap, Rasmei Kampuchea, Kampuchea Thmey, the Cambodia Daily, and the Phnom Penh Post-vp, where there were 322 cases of rape reported. The number increased by 16.77% compared to 2008, where there had been only 268 cases, and by 6.52% compared to 2007, where there had been 301 cases. The 332 cases victimized 337 persons, among whom 202 were underage girls and 2 were boys. Most of the victims were Khmers, but there were also Vietnamese, Cambodian Muslims, and Australians. It should be noted that gang rapes [when two or more men rape one girl] increased to 29 cases – in each case there were 2 to 7 perpetrators involved, and 5 victims were killed after they had been raped.

“ECPAT Cambodia added that these rape cases were committed by 381 perpetrators where one was a woman. Besides Khmer perpetrators, there were also Khmer Muslims, Thais, Vietnamese, and Koreans. 317 of them were arrested, and 235 were sent to courts. 47 escaped and 2 others were not arrested. Among all cases, 66 are still under further investigation by local authorities, in 2 cases the perpetrators were released, and 1 case was solved out of the court system. There were only 6 cases reported where perpetrators were convicted to serve 3 to 20 years in prison, and they were ordered to compensate the victims or the victim’s families with US$1,000 to US$2,500. If we look at the relation between perpetrators and underage victims, it is found that 143 children were raped by their neighbors or persons they know, 27 were raped by their fathers, step fathers, or adopted fathers, 16 were raped by other relatives, and 2 were raped by their teachers.

“The provinces and cities with most rape cases were Battambang with 61 cases, Phnom Penh with 42 cases, Kandal with 30 cases, Banteay Meanchey with 26 cases, Pursat with 25 cases, Kompong Cham with 24 cases, and Kompong Speu and Takeo both with 17 cases. Some factors were found triggering these cases, which include: perpetrators had easy opportunities [to commit rape], victims stayed or went somewhere alone with the perpetrators, or they attend celebrations at night, victims were asleep or having a bath, and in other cases the perpetrators were heavily drunk, or had prepared their plans in advance, or they had frequently watched pornographic movies.

“Based on the above figures, law enforcement by the relevant authorities, especially the courts, remained limited, as giving impunity to perpetrators continued, and this was also because the publication of laws by different relevant institutions was not yet done intensively, and there was carelessness of victims and of the victims’ parents.

“Also, there were 7 cases of sex trafficking (compared to 2008, there were 17 cases and 2007, there were 16 cases) which resulted in 11 victims where 7 of them were underage and one was Vietnamese. Those cases involved 15 perpetrators where 3 were women: 2 Koreans and 1 Chinese. 1 perpetrator was the victim’s friend, and the other was committed by an acquaintance. 13 of the perpetrators were arrested, 5 cases were sent to the courts, 1 escaped, and 2 other cases are under further investigations by the local authorities. Sex trafficking occurred in Phnom Penh, Battambang, Pailin, Takeo, and Banteay Meanchey. There are no report about how the perpetrators were prosecuted.

“In 2009, there were also 18 cases of debauchery with children, involving 24 victims. Among them, only 1 was not underage, 4 were boys, and 1 was Vietnamese. These cases were committed by 18 perpetrators, where 4 were Khmers, 3 French, 2 Canadians, 2 Americans, 1 English, 1 Swiss, 1 Thai, 1 Danish, 1 Israeli, and 1 Greek. Most of them were tourists, but there were also teachers among them, and a foreign monk. 17 of them were arrested and sent to court, and 1 escaped. There were 3 cases brought for hearings where the perpetrators were sentenced to serve 1 to 5 years in prison, and they were ordered to compensate the victims with US$1,000 to US$2,500. 9 of those cases happened in Phnom Penh, 2 cases in Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, and Banteay Meanchey each, and 1 case in Battambang, Kandal, and Koh Kong.

“ECPAT Cambodia noticed that rape in Cambodia continued to occur at a worrying and high level, and most victims were underage, especially in the case of rape. The number of cases brought to be heard at the courts was not so high, simply because of out of court arrangements. ECPAT Cambodia and other related organizations appealed to law enforcement institutions, especially to the police and to court officials, to strengthen and to ensure effective law enforcement. Education about the laws and other related topics should be extended. Also, parents should raise the notion of carefulness with their children, especially with underage girls and other vulnerable groups, not leaving them alone in whatever circumstances.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6860, 18.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 18 January 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #390, 17-18.1.2010

  • Rice Buyers from Europe Plan to Export 50,000 Tonnes of Cambodian Rice on the International Market
  • [UN Secretary-General] Ban Ki-Moon Will Visit Haiti, UN Seeks US$562 Million Aid

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2153, 17-18.1.2010

  • The Cambodian Government Sends Condolences and Donates US$50,000 for Earthquake Tragedy Victims in Haiti

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #582, 17-18.1.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Officials Asked the Head of the Svay Rieng Court to Allow Them to Visit the [two] Khmer Farmer Victims [detained over the removal of temporary Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6860, 18.1.2010

  • ECPAT Cambodia: Rape of Women and Children Increased in 2009 to 322 Cases
  • Since 1996 and up to 2009, Japan Provided more than US$200 Million in Loans for the Sihanoukville Port Development
  • The Number of Earthquake Deaths in Haiti Might Reach 200,000

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #91, 18.1.2010

  • The UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur [Mr. Surya Subedi] Starts His Second Visit, Beginning This Monday [18.1.2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5102, 17-18.1.2010

  • Since [border] Disputes Started, Thai Soldiers Shot and Killed Eight Khmer Poor Citizens and Injured 20 [accusing them of cutting trees illegally in Thai territory]
  • A Car Loaded with Fish Crashed into a Motorbike, Killing Two People and Injuring One [Siem Reap]

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A Government Official Claimed Human Rights Violations Dropped, while Civil Society Found They Increased – Thursday, 14.1.2010

Posted on 15 January 2010. Filed under: Week 647 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 647

“The chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Mr. Om Yentieng, said that in 2009, human rights violations decreased compared with previous years, but civil society officials claimed they increased.

“Mr. Om Yentieng stated that the human rights conditions in Cambodia were better than in previous years. But he did not offer a percentage of the increase and of the decrease. He added that a better human rights situation exists in all sectors, because of a better understanding of the law by citizens. Also, the capacity of the authorities at most ministries and institutions did advance. He continued to say that the promotion of and the caring for human rights issues mentioned in the Rectangular Strategy are now in practice.

“Regarding this case, an investigating official of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Mr. Oum Sam Ath, told Deum Ampil that in 2009, according to the findings of LICADHO, there were as many as 904 cases of human rights violation in 14 provinces and cities. He added that those cases consist of violations against general human rights, against women’s rights, and against children’s rights. Compared to 2008, there was an increase by 54 cases, as in 2008 there were only 846 cases. He went on to say that most violations of general human rights occurred all the time, including evictions, assaults, and murders. As for women and children, the number of rapes increased. He stressed that major problems, which led to the increase is that the court systems was not independent, and the understanding of the field still seems to remains limited. Therefore, the authorities frequently did compromise when there were offenses or crimes. Another point is that often perpetrators were not arrested for prosecution by the courts. There are other related problems that stimulated the increase of rapes against children and women, like foreign pornographic videos or drug abuse.

“He continued to say that there is more increase of violations in Phnom Penh than in other provinces. He said if human rights violations continues, it will contribute negatively to the situation of the whole nation. Moreover, foreign countries will see Cambodia as a country where sufficient actions are not taken against offenders.

“Also, an investigating official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Chan Soveth, said that freedom of expression, impunity, land disputes, evictions, and different laws which relate to human rights in Cambodia are of concern. All civil society organizations notice that the freedom of expression is in a worrying situation, because some civil society officials were sued by government officials. The immunity of some parliamentarians was suspended, and they are indicted at the courts. As for impunity, he said that it is rising higher, and there is not yet an independent monitoring of the conditions. Mr. Om Yentieng said that he is pleased and welcomes talks about human rights issues in Cambodia, if anyone does not agree with his aforementioned claims.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #387, 14.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 14 January 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #387, 14.1.2010

  • A Government Official Claimed Human Rights Violations Dropped, while Civil Society Found They Increased
  • [Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Hor Namhong Will Not [bilaterally] Meet [Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs] Kasit Piromya during the [ASEAN ministerial] Meeting in Vietnam

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2150, 14.1.2010

  • [Thai Deputy Prime Minister] Suthep Thaugsuban Responded to Samdech Hun Sen that His Government Will Have a Very Long Life
  • The Ministry of Health Vows to Completely Eliminate Illegal Pharmacies and Their Branches and Clinics by March 2010

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #717, 14.1.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Warned to Arrest Any Parliamentarians Who Are Addicted to Gambling

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #579, 14.1.2010

  • Mr. Hor Namhong Orders an Investigation to Find the Place That Produces Shoes on which an Image of the Angkor Wat Temple Is Printed [considering it as in insult]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6857, 14.1.2010

  • Drunken Man Ended His Wife’s Life Cruelly in Front of Three Daughters [out of jealousy – making his five children become orphans; he was arrested – Kandal]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.2, #89, 14.1.2010

  • Cambodia Condemned Thailand over a Shootout Which Killed Khmer Citizens at the Border
  • [Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Will Visit Cambodia in Late January while Red-Shirt Demonstrators [his supporters] Prepare to Demonstrate in Bangkok

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5099, 14.1.2010

  • The American Embassy Sponsored Training on Information Technology at the Ministry of Justice
  • A Terrible Earthquake Tragedy Occurred in Haiti [thousands of people died]

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During the Three Quarters of 2009 so Far, 61% of Rape Victim Were Underage Persons – Saturday, 10.10.2009

Posted on 11 October 2009. Filed under: Week 633 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 633

“Phnom Penh: The increasing number of rapes indicates that Khmer tradition is falling apart under the influence of bad foreign culture, spread through porn videos played at some coffee shops, and through drug abuse.

“Based on news from five local newspapers, Koh Santepheap, Rasmei Kampuchea, Kampuchea Thmey, The Phnom Penh Post, and The Cambodia Daily, information collected by End Child Prostitution, Abuse and Trafficking in Cambodia – ECPAT-Cambodia – shows in a Media Analysis of Rape, Trafficking for Sexual Purpose, Indecent Cases in Third Quarter 2009 [in Khmer] that there were 69 cases of rape involving 70 victims. To tally the numbers within the three quarters of 2009, there were 216 rape cases and 225 victims, where 137 of them, 61%, affected underage persons. It should be noted that an Australian woman, a tourist, also became a rape victim. [ECPAT-Cambodia is a member of the international network End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes – ECPAT International.]

“Compared to the corresponding period in 2008 with 211 cases, there were 5 cases more. The provinces and cities with a high number of rapes are Battambang with 43 cases, Phnom Penh 22 cases, Kompong Cham 19 cases, Kandal 18 cases, Pursat and Banteay Meanchey each 17 cases, Kompong Speu 12 cases, Takeo 11 cases, and the other cases in other provinces. There were 6 cases of rape-and-murder, where one young girl was raped by seven teenagers living in the same village and then murdered cruelly by cutting her throat and stabbing her several times.

“These inhuman acts were done by 261 suspects, among whom 20 were underage people. Most of the crimes were committed by Khmers, but there were also some cases involving others: 2 Koreans, 3 Vietnamese, 2 Thais, 1 Cambodian Muslim, and 1 case of a woman. Notably, gang rapes [where several teenagers raped one girl or woman] add up to 21 cases, where 2 to 7 perpetrators were involved in the gang-rape cases. There were 15 cases where both the victims and the suspects were underage people. As for the relations between the victims and the suspects, there were 103 cases where the victims were raped by their neighbors in the same villages, in 40 cases by family members and relatives, in 35 cases by people knowing each other, in 9 cases a boyfriend raped his girlfriend, and in 24 cases there is no report about the relationship. As for the law, 217 suspects were arrested, and 147 cases were sent to be solved by the counts, 56 cases were under further investigations by police, in 39 cases the suspects escaped, in 2 cases the suspects were released on bail, and 1 case was addressed out of the court system. There was only one case with a comparatively high verdict, in which the court indicted the suspect for rape, and the perpetrator then was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison and was ordered to pay a fine of Riel 4 million [approx. US$975].

“There were some factors reported which were involved frequently in rapes cases, where there were 69 cases where the perpetrators used special opportunities, 47 cases were planned, 22 cases involved drug abuse and alcohol, 6 cases resulted related to watching porn movies and pictures, and for other cases no such circumstances were reported. There were 65 cases resulting from a situation where the victim stayed alone, 35 cases where the victim trusted to go with the suspect, 32 cases happened where the victims were attacked while sleeping, and 20 cases happened while the victims went out for a walk at night.

“During this time, there were 5 cases of human trafficking victimizing 8 women and 5 underage girls, 1 person was 1 Vietnamese. Compared to the same period in 2008, there was a decline of 3 cases. There were 8 suspects, including 1 Chinese man, and 2 were women. Four of them were arrested, and 3 were sent to be prosecuted by the court. Two suspects were under police investigation, and one escaped. There were no reports about how the suspects were convicted by the courts. Places of human trafficking are the road from Takeo to Banteay Meanchey, the city of Phnom Penh, Pailin, and Battambang.

“Within the same period, there were 11 cases of producing child pornography, involving 12 victims, where 10 were girls between the ages of 5 and 17. Among the 12 victims, 2 were Vietnamese and 10 were Cambodian. Involved in these cases were 11 suspects from age 19 to age 68, and most of them are tourists from America, England, France, Japan, and Switzerland. Nine of them were arrested and convicted to serve 3 years in prison. Those cases occurred in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, Battambang, and Kandal.

“ECPAT-Cambodia noticed that there was a slight increase in the number of rapes, and a slight decrease in the number of human trafficking, based on the information in those newspapers. But the number of victims who were underage is alarmingly high. Also there were cases of extreme cruelty like gang rapes and murders, while the number of suspects that were prosecuted is low. Therefore ECPAT-Cambodia appeals to relevant organizations and institutions, especially to the Royal Government of Cambodia, to strengthen law enforcement by the courts and the police, and to make the related laws widely known to the citizens. All parents have to be very careful about the safety of their sons and daughters, especially when they are very young.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #67, 10-11.10.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 10 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #307, 10.10.2009

  • Radio Free Asia Dismissed [two more staff members:] Sam Borin and San Sovityak
  • The Cambodian Red Cross Has US$570,000 to Assist Citizens Suffering from the Flood
  • Robbers Armed with AK Rifles Robbed Jewelry [worth approx. US$2,000] and Injured a Man Seriously [Kompong Cham]
  • Eighty Countries Support the Cambodian Candidacy as Member of the World Heritage Committee [at the 35th UNESCO General Conference]

Note:

During the last meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in June 2009, the following countries were represented on the committee:

Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, United States of America.

While there are at present 851 sites registered in 141 countries, the World Heritage Committee can have only 21 members.

According to its rules, there cannot be only countries on the Committee which have registered World Heritage Sites, it is not the primary task of committee members to defend the cases of their countries. Countries which want to be on the committee have to offer their services, according to the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, to fulfill the following tasks:

“to work for harmonious synergy among the Organization’s three main legal instruments for cultural diversity:

  • the World Heritage Convention of 1972;
  • the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of 2003; and
  • the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted by UNESCO in 2005.”

In addition, the members of the World Heritage Committee will have to work more on developing the following two fields:

  • “to develop the complementarity of science and culture, notably in the 80 sites which carry the twin labels of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program and World Heritage, and
  • to reinforce the link between biodiversity and cultural diversity.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2068, 10.10.2009

  • Samdech Hun Sen: The Powerful Who Protect Gangsters Must Be Punished
  • The Minister of Water Resources Considers Typhoon Ketsana as the Most Disastrous Ever for Cambodia [destroying infrastructure and crops]
  • The Committee for Free and Fair Elections (COMFREL) Is Concerned that Relocated Citizens [in the context of clearing sites where they used to live, to make place for business and high rise housing developments] Do Not Have the Right to Register for the Elections
  • A Journalist and His 4-Year-Old Son Were Killed in a Traffic Accident [they were hit by another motorbike – Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #506, 10.10.2009

  • [Cambodian People’s Party parliamentarian] Mr. Cheam Yeap: An Anti-Corruption Law Could Not Be Created for Many Years, because the National Assembly and the Government Sent Its Drafts Back and Forth [but he said that it will be adopted within the first six months of 2010]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #67, 10-11.10.2009

  • During the Three Quarters of 2009 so Far, 61% of Rape Victim Were Underage Persons
  • One Hundred More People Died in Landslides in the Philippines

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5017, 10.10.2009

  • The Defamation Complaint of Samdech Hun Sen [against Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua Will Be Heard Again on 28 October 2009
  • Siem Reap Town Became Like a Water Reservoir, after a Dam, Surrounding the Town, Had Been Built [improperly]
  • Nearly 2,000 Workers of the Tac Fat Factory Are Striking for Two Days with No Solution [after the factory had closed – Phnom Penh]
  • Vietnam Prosecuted Six People and Sent Them to Serve Six Years in Prison for Campaigning for [multi-party] Democracy
  • It Is Surprising! Obama Received the Nobel Peace Prize! [in 2009 for his hard effort to strengthen international diplomatic developments and cooperation among the people]

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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Censorship: Thousands of Crude Porn Sites Accessible on Internet – One Khmer Artist Blocked – Sunday, 1.2.2009

Posted on 2 February 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 597 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 597

When the Cambodian government held a three day consultation in September 2001, the Prime Minister opened it with a speech on Public Awareness about Information Technology. Charting the future, he said:

“The government’s top priority is to use Information Technology – IT – to serve and to meet the day-to-day needs of the people. IT should become as an efficient means for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government and the conduct of government business in accordance with the principles of transparency and good governance…

“IT will help strengthen democracy, ensure transparency, promote good governance in government and community businesses. With regard to the economic and social aspect, IT will improve major public service delivery to the local people and allow them to monitor and receive regularly and timely all kinds of information.”

In February last year, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance of transparency again, more specifically in relation to economic development as a means of poverty reduction, in his keynote address 2008 Cambodia Outlook Conference: Mobilizing Cambodia’s Resources – Human, Natural, Financial – for Quality Development, Growth and Prosperity, when he said:

“A healthy private sector is the key to robust economic development and thus the government should ensure the legal framework for fair competition, transparency, accountability and productive relations with the public sector. The overall environment for enterprise will be strengthened through broadened good governance and human resources development. The public sector should also be strong in order to correct the market failures, essentially to reach the poor and disadvantaged.”

Recent days and weeks would have provided ample opportunity to demonstrate the promised open and transparent communication – using information technology, the telephone, and direct talk.

Unfortunately, in spite of repeated pledges to install official spokespersons in the different ministries and other government agencies, and even having trained 18 persons for this task and given them certificates, there is obviously a problem that the basic commitment to transparency – “for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government,” as the Prime Minister said – is disregarded.

Related to the Dey Krahom evictions, which continue to cause deep problems for the men, women, and children involved, we collected the following items from the Cambodia Daily in a single day – Friday, 30 January 2009:

  • “Shukaku representatives could not be reached for comment and CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin [the husband of the owner of the Shukaku company] turned off his phone when a reporter contacted him.”
  • At the office of the Boeng Kak Development committee, an employee declined to provide his name, but suggested, “I think you have to ask Phnom Penh Municipality.”
  • “Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema and his deputies Mann Chhoeun and Pa Socheatvong could not be reached for comment.”
  • After contacting the 7NG company, “a company representative said he would meet Thursday with the residents.” – However, when contacted Thursday, the meeting was canceled.
  • “Chhay Rithisen, director of the municipal land management department, could not be reached for comment. Deputy directors Sek Yorn and Sar Bamnang both directed questions… to Chhay Rithisen.”

Many people do not seem to care about the importance the Prime Minister has accorded to transparency and “to reach the poor and disadvantaged” when there are “market failures” which derail the ultimate goal of development.

Over the weekend there was another blow to transparency in Cambodia. It is widely acknowledged that, in addition to huge resources for knowledge, connectivity, and entertainment, the Internet provides access to pornography – according to experts, there are tens of thousands of pornographic websites. There is no technical Internet blocking of access to these sites in Cambodia, which, as Internet experts recommend that criminal violations of pornography abuse laws should be best handled through legal prosecution, not through arbitrary and ineffective blocking of Internet sites.

Now, however, though not blocking any real pornography sites, some Internet Service Providers in Cambodia have started to block access to the website of a Cambodian artist based in the USA:

When the web site of this Khmer artist became known through the press, he was strongly attacked, accused of destroying Khmer culture because he did not only paint pictures of Angkor Wat stone apsaras, but also of lifelike apsara dancers whose bodies were, like the stone carvings, not completely clothed.

He offers on his website professional hints in painting techniques, and he wrote also:

“I’m trying to build an online Khmer Arts community for novice artists, advance artists, graphic artists, tattoo artists, or anyone for that matter who is interested in Khmer Arts. We can share ideas, discuss about your designs, and network with other Khmer artists from across the United States and around the world.

“The meaning of life is an elusive concept that has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific and theological speculation. For thousands of years, men and women of every age, race, and culture have sought to understand the meaning of life. Throughout history, scientists and philosophers, theologians and artists, politicians and social activists, monks and sages, and men and women from all walks of life have discussed and debated many questions in the quest to discover the meaning of life.

“One of the central views in Buddhism is a non-dual worldview, in which subject and object are the same, and the sense of doer-ship is illusionary. On this account, the meaning of life is to become enlightened as to the nature and oneness of the universe. According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists Dukkha, which is in essence sorrow/suffering, that is caused by desire and it can be brought to cessation by following the Noble Eightfold Path.

“It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing oneself from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things. From this, one can attain a higher level of existence and finally reach Nirvana and that will be the meaning of my life.

“I believe in constructive criticisms! But lately, I’ve received many unwanted complaints regarding that some of my works disgraced the Khmer culture. Judging from the complaints, I wonder how we as Khmer will be able to make it in the 21st century.”

A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information announced the intention to “publish services through electronic systems under the control of a law which is being drafted.” This announcement causes great alarm – not only because history has shown that the introduction of censorship of art has often been the entry point to suppress other freedoms, but because the Cambodian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and publication, and the state has to uphold impartiality and protect the rights and freedoms of citizens (Articles 41 and 109).

The wide intent of the draft of this legislation became clear when it was stated:

“All Internet Service Providers which ask for licenses from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication must, in advance, also ask for a second license from the Ministry of Information if this law is adopted, because these companies allow Internet users to connect networks and to use data in different networks.”

Does this mean, for example, that the Ministry of Information might refuse to license the apsara pictures on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which all foreigners see when they apply there for a visa?

Official Visa Application Site

Who in the Ministry of Information will be the authority on expressions of art, or decide – to quote the same Secretary of State – if “pictures can evoke sexual feelings” and should be prohibited? Is the work of art of one person a greater assault on the cultural traditions and remnants of the country than the destruction of the historic Bassac Theater, and now the threatened destruction of the landmark Renakse Hotel, which is the former Ministry of Justice and part of the architectural environment of the Royal Palace?

In the early years of the Internet, when the present Minister of Information was a secretary of state at the same ministry, he wrote an e-mail in 1999 to Bill Herod, one of the Internet pioneers in Cambodia, which was published internationally in the UNDP supported Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2003/2004, when the South China Morning Post in Hongkong had written there would be Internet censorship in Cambodia:

“Dear Sir,

“I do not know where SCMP got this news (“Planned Net law ‘threat to democracy,’” May 31, 1999) , but I can assure you that I am the one who has been fighting and continues to fight for the freedom of Internet access and the free flow of information in general. Everyday I find in my e-mail all kinds of information including some mail insulting me.

“This is a fact of life. When we never attempt to control the import of books and magazines into Cambodia why would we want to block the Internet?…

“Please be assured that I am very supportive of this form of communication and I will spare no effort in defending it. I hope you can help communicate this assurance to all of your subscribers and, if you have any problem concerning this issue, please feel free to contact me.

“Your sincerely,

“Khieu Kanharith”

It is important to recognize that questions of “Cambodian culture” are raised regularly by many different kinds of news. For example, the almost weekly news about the brutal rape and murder of Cambodian children raises questions about how this destruction of human culture is being handled, and no efforts to block the Internet in Cambodia could ever prevent that.

Furthermore, the blocking of the Reahu site will be reported around the world and will attract much more attention than the site would ever have received without such action. That is what also had happened when the introduction of 3G mobile phones was delayed – for fear they could deliver pornography to those who can afford the high cost of this new 3G technology, while crude pornography continues to be cheaply available all over the country where CDs are being sold.

What a pity, that there will again be a flood of negative attention on Cambodia, just as it happened when the prohibition of the Global Witness book on deforestation problems Cambodia’s Family Trees stimulated worldwide attention, which it never could have gained without the prohibition.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

The wide international interest The Mirror finds is reflected in the fact that during the last two days only, people in 45 countries read The Mirror.

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