Thursday, 18.9.2008: Mr. Yash Ghai Announced to Resign from His Position as UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia

Posted on 19 September 2008. Filed under: Week 578 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 578

“Mr. Yash Ghai, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, whom many know well to be a person who dared to clearly criticize Mr. Hun Sen and who often created Mr. Hun Sen a headache, announced his resignation on Monday early this week.

Note:

Mr. Yash Ghai’s presentation at the UN International Human Rights Council, meeting in Geneva, was introduced by the the delegate from Japan:

“Japan introduced the review, rationalization and improvement of the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights situation in Cambodia. It noted that Cambodia had made substantive progress since the mandate had been introduced in 1993. However, there were still issues and challenges to be tackled by the Government of Cambodia, such as land ownership, establishing the rule of law, ensuring independence of the judiciary, and others. Japan underlined the need for the international community to provide advisory services and technical assistance to Cambodia in order to address human rights issues that needed further improvement. It proposed renewal of the mandate for one year.”

15.9.2008 – Press release by the UN Office in Geneva

“In spite of this, Mr. Yash Ghai called thorough his statement in front of the UN International Human Rights Council in Geneva to encourage the United Nations to continue its activities in Cambodia in order to help Khmer citizens whose rights were heavily abused.

“It should be noted that Mr. Yash Ghai took the place of Mr. Peter Leuprecht, former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, in 2005, after this envoy did not get on well with Mr. Hun Sen’s government, because he seriously criticized the abuse of human rights in Cambodia.

Mr. Yash Ghai sated on Monday in Geneva, ‘The Cambodian government has already opposed the work of four UN envoys.’

“Mr. Yash Ghai said, ‘There is little improvement seen in Cambodia – this does not mean that there is no improvement – as there is a severe lack of seriousness in the court system and in important law enforcement institutions, and in protecting the rights of each person.’

“Mr. Yash Ghai added that the international community let him to face a war of words with the Phnom Penh government alone.

“In addition, Mr. Yash Ghai said, ‘It is most important that the person who will succeed me should be fully supported by the International Human Rights Council, that is, by the United Nations and by the international community.’

“Mr. Yash Ghai appeared to be sarcastic, when he said, ‘I cannot say that I earned much support,’ but he had the encouragement for Mr. Hun Sen, the Cambodian Prime Minister, who insulted him repeatedly.

“Mr. Yash Ghai said without hesitating, ‘Mr. Hun Sen called me to be stupid, and a lazy short term tourist.’ As for Mr. Khieu Kanharith, the government spokesperson, he called me a person with no civilization and lacking Aryan culture.’

“Mr. Yash Ghai continued, ‘Mr. Hun Sen also accused me of lying and that I was nominated just to receive a salary. Furthermore, Mr. Hun Sen described international human rights organization and me like animals. He humiliated Kenya which is my home country to be heading towards the killing fields, and Mr. Khieu Kanharith said that Kenyon citizens are rough and brutal.’

“Mr. Yash Ghai said also, ‘The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva did not protect me, and rejected to release a statement to clarify that I do not get paid. Therefore, I had to clarify this myself.’

“Yesterday there was no reaction from officials of the Phnom Penh government regarding Mr. Yash Ghai’s statement in Geneva on Monday.

“Nevertheless, on behalf of the European Community, Mr. Jean Baptiste Mattei, the French Ambassador to the UN International Human Rights Council, said, ‘The European Community Welcomes Cambodia’s decision to accept the continuation of the term for a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia.’

“Also, Ms. Juliette de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, expressed support for the continuation of a term.

“She assessed that Cambodia does have problems with UN human rights officials who hold the mandate, but she still wants to see this mandate continued.

“It should be remembered that the war of words between Mr. Yash Ghai and Mr. Hun Sen had attracted public opinion statements from many sources, strongly criticizing Mr. Hun Sen, saying that the Hun Sen government does not cooperate with Mr. Yash Ghai which affected Mr. Hun Sen’s reputation negatively. If the government would terminate the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, it is feared that human right abuses will spread one hundred times more than before.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #246, 18.9.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 18 September 2008


Cambodge Soir, Vol.1, #50, 18-24.9.2008

  • Citizens in Bavet Abandon Agriculture and Take up Services [some become vendors and some work in factories, restaurants, and casinos – Svay Rieng]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1749, 18.9.2008

  • Samdech Hun Sen Asks Thai New Prime Minister to Continue Negotiation [related to border dispute]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Wants Samdech Krom Preah to Return to Cambodia during the Pchum Ben Day [which will be celebrated from 28 to 30 September 2008]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #246, 18.9.2008

  • Mr. Yash Ghai Announced to Resign from His Position as UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia
  • Sam Rainsy Asks Hun Sen to Give His Reasons Why He Is Not Asking for Support from the Co-Chairmen of the 1991 Paris Peace Conference over the Intrusion by Siam [Thailand] into Cambodia

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #101, 18.9.2008

  • Labak Khon Hydro-Electric Plant Has Serious Impact on Humans and on Animals [it will prevent the movement of fish to find food and to move to their normal refuge for laying eggs, which will affect the people living along the Mekong River]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6453, 18.9.2008

  • Brother-in-Law of [ousted former Thai prime minister] Thaksin [Somchai Wongsawat – สมชาย วงศ์สวัสดิ์ – 61, married to Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister] Became Thai Prime Minister [after a vote in parliament on 17 September 2008]
  • Unknown Person Threw a Bomb with a Threatening Letter into the House of a Former [Cambodian TV program selected] “Freshie Girl [Ven Davin, but no explosion – Phnom Penh]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3568, 18.9.2008

  • The Cambodian Government Welcomes a New Person to Replace Mr. Yash Ghai as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia
  • Sam Rainsy: We Are Not Afraid of Losing Positions and Salaries in the National Assembly
  • Son Chhay [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh]: The Sam Rainsy Party Has Never Cried for the Position of Vice President and of Chairperson of Committees in the National Assembly


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4697, 18.9.2008

  • Japanese Investment Delegation Comes to Study Investment in Cambodia
  • American Man Is Arrested on Accusation of Keeping a 13-Year-Old Girl for Having Sex and for Committing Debauchery Acts [17 September 2008 – Phnom Penh]
  • There Were No Newspapers of Rasmei Kampuchea Available on 17 September 2008, because There Were People Driving a Car to Buy Them All [ Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4696, 16.9.2008, papers which had an article “Illegal Imports of Gas: There Was a Short Surprise because There Was Police, Then the Situation Turned Usual as if Nothing Had Happened” – Poipet, Banteay Meanchey]
  • Vietnam Started to Sell Bio-Fuel [at a price of Dong 16,500, corresponding to approx. Riel 4,000 per liter, on 15 September 2008, Hanoi]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3410, 18.9.2008

  • Fuel Price Slightly Decreases, but [there are allegations that pumps of] Fuel Do Not Deliver Enough but Call it a “Liter”

Click here to have a look at the last editorial – how the whole Khmer press withholds the final, decisive document from the public, before the Preah Vihear Temple was listed as a World Heritag Site.

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Friday, 11.7.2008: Civil Society Worries about Freedom of Expression in Cambodia Which Is Becoming More Restricted for Both Journalists and for the People

Posted on 12 July 2008. Filed under: Week 568 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 568

“Officials of local human rights organizations said that Khmer people begin to dare to express their opinion regarding problems they deal with. However, the freedom of expression of citizens is limited and often not welcome by the authorities. ‘Nowadays, they threaten us to leave, and if we do not follow their orders, they will not agree. Now, they are observing us; people living to the West of our place seldom talk. Sorry! Now soldiers arrive, I would like to stop talking. They are following me.’

“The above words are the words of two women living in Kampot, who tried to tell journalists about being followed by local authorities, like also other people in the district who are being evicted from their land.

“Regarding the freedom of expression of these citizens, the president of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO] Ms. Pong Chiv Kek [also known as Dr. Kek Galabru] stated that in the last few years, the authorities try to prohibit that people gather to express their opinion – but the authorities object by raising security concerns as their reasons.

“Ms. Pong Chiv Kek said, ‘Especially, when workers want to hold a demonstration for something, they hardly ever obtained a permission, though they apply. Our government restricts gathering and marches to express opinions. Sometimes, just expressing something about the borders, there will be problems – the government uses the court to punish those who have expressed their own opinions.’

“Ms. Pong Chiv Kek, observing the situation of the freedom of expression in Cambodia, added, ‘In a democratic regime, the government is created by the people, and such a government will work for the people; if it is a government created by the people, it must join with the people to develop the country. So the government must contribute by providing enough information that the government does this and does that, it provides forest concession to whom, it wants to build a dam there, or want to develop something here; the people must be provided with enough of this type of information. If the people have obtained such information, they have to gather and to talk; for this, they need freedom of expression.’

“Institutions to which the problem of freedom of expression in Cambodia relates, includes the law drafting institutions, the law implementing institutions, the courts, institutions which provide public information, non-government organizations, and also citizens in general.

“The Cambodian Center for Human Rights president, Mr. Ou Virak, who observes the situation of freedom of expression in Cambodia, stated that Khmer citizens nowadays dare to express their opinions regarding problems they are facing. However their free expression is hindered by the authorities.

Mr. Ou Virak added that Cambodia has laws as well as a Constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression. But on the other side, those laws are not fairly applied by the authorities. He continued, ‘If we look at the implementation, we have police, judicial officials including prosecutors, and the government – important agencies to implement the law, but nowadays, judicial officials, who have the duty to implement the law show much bias. They do not allow people to express their opposing opinions, and even people within a party can often talk only about their party, without being able to talk also about negative points.’

“Mr. Ou Virak went on to say, ‘‘As for the media, Cambodia has laws regulating the flow of information, but those laws have not been implemented efficiently to protect journalists. He added, ‘We see that recently, the courts have been used to restrict the freedom of expression by closing a radio station, and by arresting Dam Sith [the Editor-in-Chief of Moneaksekar Khmer], while there are cases where the government did not investigate the cases threatening and physically abusing journalists or activist who are not on the side of the Cambodian People’s Party. Therefore we say that the courts have not fulfilled their duties; contrarily, they are used by the government to restrict the freedom of expression.’

“Mr. Pen Samithi, the president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said that the freedom of expression and press freedom in Cambodia are on the way of improving during these last few years. He added, ‘If we want that people act like in a country where there is Internet in almost all houses, this is impossible. But in practice Cambodia has the ability for qualified action we can take well, but we have to try more, to catch up with other countries, because we are far behind, including in technology and in other fields.’

“However, Mr. Pen Samithi stated also that journalists still face many difficulties to find sources of information, especially information about the government relating to politics.

“Recently, besides the arrest of some journalists on the accusation of defamation and disinformation, according to an investigative report of LICADHO, at least three citizens have been shot dead by the authorities when protesting for land in Preah Vihear province.

“In 2008, Mr. Chan Savet, an investigative officer of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – said that because of the land protest, at least 36 citizens have been detained, and 6 citizens are under being searched.” Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3356, 11.7.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 11 July 2008


Chakraval, Vol.16, #2792, 11.7.2008

  • The Enthusiasm about the Preah Vihear Temple Makes the Election Propaganda Move to the Background; Not Many People Are Interested in It


Chouy Khmer, Vol.2, #131, 11.7.2008

  • Samdech Euv [Father King Norodom Sihanouk] Asks Khmer and Siem [Thai] Citizens to Maintain Good Relations by Not Considering the Preah Vihear Temple as a Dispute [according to his letter issued on 9 July 2008]


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1690, 11.7.2008

  • The Government Allows Citizens to Have Children as They Want, but They Must Take Care of Their Health [according to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s letter to welcome the World Population Day on 11 July 2008]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Plans to Order Private Companies to Create Bus Stations [for long distance buses coming to Phnom Penh] at Suburban Phnom Penh [to reduce traffic congestion in town – according to Mr. Chea Bunthoeun, director of the office of transportation of the Department of Public Works and Transport]
  • Sudan Militants Raided and Killed Seven UN Soldiers in Darfur [9 July 2008]
    G8 Leaders Promise to Solve Food and Oil Crisis


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #196, 11.7.2008

  • [Opposition Party president] San Rainsy: The Evidences We Have in Our Hands and the Witnesses Are Enough to Win against Hor Namhong by Law


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #46, 11.7.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh] Mr. Son Chhay Asks [Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior] Sar Kheng to Take Action against Cars That Have No Number Plates [but are used for the election campaign]
  • Cambodia Plans to Send Laborers to Work in Qatar [according to undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training Oum Mean]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6394, 11.7.2008

  • More than 10 Million Ballots and 32,000 Bottles of Non-Erasable Ink [to mark one finger of people who have cast their ballot] Are Prepared for the Election
  • Thai Foreign Affairs Minister [Noppadon Pattama] Resigned – 10 July 2008 – from His Position [after the Thai Constitutional Court decided that his 18 June 2008 signature on the Joint Communique with Cambodia about the Preah Vihear Temple violated the constitution as he did not ask for parliamentary approval]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4638, 11.7.2008

  • Prince Sisowath Thomico Is Not Happy with Sam Rainsy Who Uses His Parents’ Name Regarding the Lawsuit [by Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong]
  • Singapore Petroleum Company Started to Drill Oil in Block B [since 8 July 2009] [some ownership information: “SPC Cambodia Ltd (“SPC Cambodia”) holds a 33.33% participating interest in Block B. SPC Cambodia was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands as a wholly-owned subsidiary of SPC Production Company Ltd. which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SPC.”]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3356, 11.7.2008

  • Civil Society Worries about Freedom of Expression in Cambodia Which Is Becoming More Restricted for Both Journalists and for the People
  • Do Authorities Close Ms. Chea Ratha’s Case by the Power of Money? [regarding an acid attack on TV presenter Ms. In Soklida’s aunt]

Have a look at the last editorial – Without freedom of information AND an active use of this freedom, emotions can easily lead to dangerous misunderstandings.

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