Civil Society Encourages a Solution to Be Found in Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Case – Tuesday, 2.3.2010

Posted on 3 March 2010. Filed under: Week 654 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 654

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee published a statement, calling for a political solution for the president of the biggest opposition party of Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy.

“The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 23 non-government organizations, issued the statement late last week.

“The committee regrets that a lawyer of the government filed a lawsuit against Mr. Sam Rainsy, in addition to the complaint which had been handled by the Svay Rieng court. Civil society organizations wrote that the new complaint will pose more concerns among national and international opinion about the recent political situation in Cambodia, especially relating to the space for democracy and the role of parliamentarians; opposition party parliamentarians were frequently sued, while important issues in the country need the involvement by all political parties. In this sense, the committee thinks that party leaders should focus more on the national interest and unite through negotiations to peacefully settle national issues.

“The committee stated, ‘We would like to encourage our political leaders to respect each other and to negotiate patiently, discussing national problems so that Cambodian citizens can live in peace and in a democratic society.’

“The executive director of the Cambodian Defenders’ Project – a member of the committee, Mr. Sok Sam Oeun – explained that the statement is aimed not only at the government, but at both parties. Mr. Sok Sam Oeun said, ‘Also Mr. Sam Rainsy should soften his position.’

“However, there seems to be less hope that there can be political coordination like in 2005, as Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen stated that he will not ask for an amnesty for Mr. Sam Rainsy again. Last week Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said, ‘I can say now that in the next elections, there will be opposition parties, but not such a person (like Sam Rainsy).’

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen even considered Mr. Sam Rainsy’s activities as traitorous.

“The lawyer Sok Sam Oeun said that it is difficult to follow the way of politicians.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5139, 2.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #423, 2.3.2010

  • India Provided a Loan of US$15 Million for the Construction of Electricity Lines from Kratie to Stung Treng
  • Citizens Accused Banteay Meanchey Custom Officers of Extorting Money, though They Transport Goods Legally [more than 30 homebuilt small tractors loaded with goods were blocked, extorting Riel 50,000 each, approx. US$12, to let them pass]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2190, 2.3.2010

  • It Is Estimated that in 2010 in Cambodia, There Will be 56,200 People Having AIDS [29,500 women and 16,700 men – according to the Ministry of Health]
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Adds a Thai Language Section to Its Website [a government official said that doing so amid border conflicts with Thailand seems to express support towards foreign aggression]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6897, 2.3.2010

  • Thirty Six Hectares of Rubber Trees [of six families] Are in a Conflict [a company that wants to buy the land, while the owners do not want to sell it], Where by Now Thirty Hectares Have Been Burnt Down [by unknown persons – Kompong Cham]
  • More Cambodian Students Learn French [the number increased from 45,000 students in 2005 to more than 110,000 in 2009 [announced at the occasion of a meeting between the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French embassy]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3821, 2.3.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Welcomes the New Lawsuit by the Government, as Those Loving Justice around the World Sympathize with Cambodia

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #121, 2.3.2010

  • The Opposition Party and Civil Society [the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] Are Concerned about the Knot Tied between the Private Sectors and the Troops [saying that private companies might use the military power of those supported to support their illegal businesses], but this Was Rejected [by the government]
  • Cholera Is Affecting Five Provinces and one City [Kandal, Kompong Speu, Prey Veng, Takeo, and Phnom Penh; 223 cases of diarrhea are suspected to be Cholera – according to the Ministry of Health]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5139, 2.3.2010

  • Civil Society Encourages a Solution to Be Found in Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Case
  • Cambodia and America Cooperate to Fight Cross-Border Crimes and Sex Tourism [so far, 14 American tourists were arrested by the Cambodian authorities and sent to America to be convicted for child sex tourism; at present, Cambodia and the United States of America are cooperating on 30 cases of sex tourism]
  • [Two] Robbers Robbed a Gold Seller, Taking 300 Chi of Gold [worth approx. US$40,200], and in Cash Riel 4 Million [approx. US$950], and US$100 [Phnom Penh]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1884, 2.3.2010

  • Thai Security Is Tightened after Bomb Explosions [in Bangkok]

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Cambodia Will Start the First Stock Market in December, but Will Not Be Successful as Planned – Wednesday, 21.1.2009

Posted on 22 January 2009. Filed under: Week 596 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 596

“Phnom Penh: The meltdown of the global economy, the lack of trust from investors, the lack of skills, the weakness of laws and of the judicial system, and corruption are considered by experts to be obstacles against the expected success of a stock market in Cambodia. This assessment is made as Cambodia plans to start the process of its first stock market in December 2009.

“It should be noted that a stock market is a gathering forum which allows investors and the general people to invest in companies that they trust, in order bring back profits for them. Those companies participating in a stock market can sell their shares to anybody and take the money like a loan for extending their activities, expecting profit; citizens can buy shares in order to become shareholders and co-owners of a shares selling company. Such clients can receive benefits, as long as the company makes profit.

“At present, the global economy is facing a crisis, and the stock markets of all countries are low, because many owners of shares sold their shares in order to recoup [as much as is left of their] original capital, and many other potential customers give up their intentions to invest in the stock market.

“The Chief Researcher of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, Mr. Chab Sothearith, said that the general loss of trust from investors will make it difficult for a stock market in Cambodia to take off.

“In should be noted that the Cambodian government announced a stock market project in September 2007 with Korea Exchange of South Korea, which put up 45% of the share capital as a partner immediately. After the announcement, the Cambodia Securities and Stock Exchange Law was adopted, and a Securities Commission of Cambodia was created, to encourage the creation of a stock exchange, which will issue shares and take action against companies that violate the law.

“However, stock exchange experts said that Cambodia still has a lot of shortcomings which are an obstacle for the progress of starting a stock exchange at the end of this year.

“An advisor of the National Accounting Council and finance professor of the Royal University of Economy and Law, Mr. Soum Chanthy, said that so far, Cambodia has very few stock market experts and does not have a proper and sufficiently complex technical basis to meet the operations of a stock market.

“In addition, Cambodia needs a firm legal system and courts with high capabilities to quickly and justly solve issues related to doing business in a stock market.

“Mr. Soum Chanthy added that although there is still one year left to create a stock market, Cambodia is not yet capable to meet all shortcomings mentioned above, making the stock market plan progress slowly.

“The director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Studies, Mr. Kang Chandararoth, said that while Cambodia has not yet an anti-corruption law, the creation of a stock market will provide high hazards, and losses will have to be faced by investors.

“The Cambodian government has not yet adopted an anti-corruption law for many years.

“Mr. Kang Chandararath went on to say that corruption can happen at state and private companies, like hiding facts in financial reports about capital, losses, and profits.

“It should be noted that part of success of a successful investment of capital depends on good governance and financial transparency of companies; their situation needs to be disclosed publicly; however, among more than 2,000 enterprises operating in Cambodia, less than 20% publish annual reports. This information comes from the National Accounting Council at the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mr. Ngy Tayi, agreed with the definition of the problems mentioned above, and he said that at present, the Ministry continues to encourage different companies to organize their reports properly before they are allowed to participate in the stock market. In the meantime, the director of the general commercial development project of Korea Exchange, Mr. In Myo Lee [phonetic], said that a stock market can help to reduce corruption in Cambodia.

“Cambodia wants to attract national and international investors from more than 400 companies to this stock market, but so far, according to Korean investors who are partners, there are only three state-controlled companies which plan to register something at the stock market of Cambodia.” Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #188, 21.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #8, 21.1.2009

  • The Vietnamese Authorities Released [five] Khmer Kampuchea Krom Monks, but Prohibit Them to be Ordained as Monks Again [according to the president of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association, Mr. Thach Setha]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #108, 21.1.2009

  • The Ministry of Culture Restricts the Implementation of the Copyright Law
  • Cambodia Prepares to Host an ASEAN Foreign Affair Ministerial Meeting with the European Union [27 and 28] May 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1852, 21.1.2009

  • The Court Summons Sam Rainsy to Come to Explain [issues of a lawsuit of the National Election Committee against him for not paying Riel 10 million, charged by the National Election Committee for defaming leaders of the Cambodian People Party during election campaign in 2008]
  • Cambodia Liberated 18,000 Children from Serious Forms of Labor in 2008 [it is estimated that there are more than 1.5 million child workers in Cambodia, and among them, 250,000 are doing serious forms of labor]
  • Siam [Thailand] Will Investigate the Allegation that There Are Rights Violations against [Muslim] Rohingya Migrants [by sending them in boats to the sea]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #188, 21.1.2009

  • Cambodia Will Start the First Stock Market in December, but Will Not Be Successful as Planned
  • Leaders of Both Opposition Parties [the Human Rights and the Sam Rainsy Party] in the National Assembly Ask the King to Grant a Great Title to Eminent Leader Chea Vichea [the president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia who was murdered in 2004]
  • Puea Thai Party Wants Mr. Thaksin [ousted former Thai Prime Minister] as an Advisor

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6557, 21.1.2009

  • The Government Announces Two Positions for Solving Land Disputes: 1. Prevent Armed Clashes and 2. Continue Bilateral Negotiations
  • Two Suspects Who Are [paddy rice] Guards Are Arrested for Setting Fire on 30 Hectares of Paddy Rice Sheafs [corresponding to around 50 tonnes of paddy rice] During the Night [Battambang]
  • A One-Year and Nine-Month Old Girl Was Killed by Twisting Her Neck, and Thrown into a Fish Raising Pond by a Brutal Person [perpetrator is not yet identified – Pursat]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3671, 21.1.2009

  • The Artificially As Murderers Accused [Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, who were recently released on bail] Are Invited to Join the Firth Anniversary of the Murder of the Former President of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia Chea Vichea

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1405, 21.1.2009

  • [The Commander of the National Military Police] Mr. Sao Sokha: The Shooting of Protesters [by Kandal Stung district military police, which caused three people to be injured] Is Being Investigated

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4800, 21.1.2009

  • Samdech Hun Sen Announces His Intention to Meet with New Thai Prime Minister to Talk about Border Disputes [and he will not raise the disputes between Cambodia and Thailand during the ASEAN summit]
  • The Economic Crisis Will Make at Least 70,000 Workers Unemployed by May 2009 [25,000 workers already lost their employment]
  • Three People [driving on a motorbike] Died after Being Hit and Run Over by a Truck [Kandal]
  • New US Ambassador [Ms. Carol A. Rodley] Presents Her Diplomatic Credentials to the King

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A Teacher Who Dares to Tell the Truth Is Threatened to Be Dismissed from a School – Thursday, 15.1.2009

Posted on 16 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.

Thanks for your interest.

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

“Civil society officials in Cambodia and abroad expressed concern about the freedom of expression in Cambodia. The authorities of the government threaten activists of trade unions, teachers, civil servants, human rights officials, and democrats.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association in Kompong Thom, who is a teacher of the high school in Triel, Mr. Sun Thun, was investigated by an inspection team of the Provincial Department of Education, and they plan to dismiss him. He is accused of causing anarchy and insulting leaders of the government while teaching students.

“Civil society people abroad noticed that Mr. Sun Thun is a model teacher who dares to express his opinion actively according to the Constitution, and who dares to criticize corruption and injustice in the society, illegal logging, and human rights abuses committed by some leaders in the government and by other relevant officials.

“Civil society officials who are members of a group monitoring the situation from outside of the country absolutely condemned the activities of officials of the Department of Education of Kompong Thom and of the director of this high school for threatening and trying to make the consciousness of other teachers insensitive, so that they do not to criticize leaders of the school and government leaders, even though they live under pressure and suffer human rights abuses and earn small salaries.

“Members of a monitoring group abroad voiced concerns that Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly and the right to education suffered serious setbacks in 2009, because the government uses a scenario acting through the ministry, provincial departments, school leaders, or other institutions, to put pressure on teachers and other civil servants. A group observing Cambodia based in Kristiansand [Norway – there is an office of the NGO Save the Children, Norway] would like to ask national and international organizations to help intervene in this case at the Triel High School, and to urge the Cambodian government to respect the Freedom of Expression, the right to education, and the Freedom of Assembly for meetings by Khmer citizens.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, asked the Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport, Mr. Im Sethy, to keep Mr. Sun Thun as a teacher at the Triel High School in the commune of Triel, Baray district, Kompong Thom.
 
“Mr. Rong Chhun wrote an official letter on 14 January 2009, saying that the argument of the director of the Triel High School and of the Department of Education of Kompong Thom, to request the Ministry of Education to reassign Mr. Sun Thun away from the Triel High School, was not right, and that Mr. Sun Thun had not committed any wrongdoing.

“Mr. Rong Chhun emphasized that according to the questions Mr. Sun Thun was asked, according to a report about the administration and financial inspection team regarding Mr. Sun Thun’s words which were broadcast by Radio Free Asia about wells, prices of birth certificates of Grade 9 students, iron for constructing small schools, and about Mr. Sun Thun’s disagreement to remove a stall selling small things from the school compound – all these points cannot be considered to be wrongdoings of Mr. Sun Thun and are not applicable as reasons to reassign him away by force.

“Mr. Sun Thun told a news agency that he did criticize corruption, about the cutting of wages for hours worked by teachers, and he had criticize bad leadership of the present leaders.

“The deputy director of the Triel High School, Mr. Ouch Phally, said that Mr. Sun Thun criticized the leaders of the government while teaching students.

“It should be noted that Mr. Sun Thun, a teacher and president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association in Kompong Thom, has enough rights to express his opinion through the press, he has the right to negotiate with leaders from all levels in the educational institution according to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Chapter 3, Article 41 and 42, the Common Statute of Civil Servants [?] of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Chapter 55, Article 36, the Law on Education in Chapter 7, Article 37, and the treaties of the International Labor Organization which guarantee to citizens of both sexes the right to express opinions, the rights of association, and the right of negotiations.

“Mr. Rong Chhun believes that Mr. Sun Thun will receive justice after an investigation by the administration and financial inspection team. Activities of the director of the Triel High School and of leaders of the departments, related to rancor and about discriminating related to the freedom of association, and to revoke any teacher can be made as long as they have committed serious wrongdoings about which the school director or the leaders of the department had advised them two or three times, following administrative regulations, but if they still not change, then their supervisors can suggest to the Ministry of Education to help to advise them. Mr. Sun Thun has no wrongdoings, and his supervisors never summoned him before to advise him, but there was immediately the request to remove him by force; this goes against the administrative procedures.

“Therefore Mr. Rong Chhun believes that Mr. Sun Thun will receive justice by keeping him to teach the students at the Triel High School.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #326, 15.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 15 January 2009

Kampuchea Thngai Nis, Vol.5, #396, 15-22.1.2009

  • Sok Sam Oeun Is Ordained as a Monk after the Supreme Court Released Him on Bail [after five years in] Jail [convicted for murdering the president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Mr. Chea Vichea in January 2004]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1847, 15.1.2009

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Opens a Pretrial Conference for the Hearing of Kaing Gek Eav [also known as Duch, former Tuol Sleng Prison chief] This Morning

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #324, 15.1.2009

  • New Video Document with the Title “Who Are the Khmers in Kampuchea Krom” Is Produced by the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association [based in the USA]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #326, 15.1.2009

  • A Teacher Who Dares to Tell the Truth Is Threatened to Be Dismissed from a School

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #183, 15.1.2009

  • People Who Pull Carts with Merchandise [many of them children] Kneel Down to Beg Customs Officers Extorting Their Money [they earn around Baht 50 [approx. US$1.45] from one trip [over the border to Thailand and back in Poipet], but they have to pay between Baht 20 and Baht 30 to each post – they are very poor, but officials seem to have no mercy for them, extorting even the little money they earn with hard work]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6552, 15.1.2009

  • The Ministry of Information Reacts to the Allegation that the Royal Government Will Attempt to Limit Publishing through the Internet [made by the Association for Protection of Journalists in response to press reports]
  • Two Young Men Took Turn Raping a [16-year-old] Girl until She Fainted; when Brought to Be Investigate, They Were Released [even though they confessed to the police that they did it, but they were released because one of them promised to marry the victim, and the other promised to help to pay for the victim’s family for her wedding – Svay Rieng]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3666, 15.1.2009

  • The United States of America Encourages the Cambodian Government to Adopt an Anti-Corruption Law Soon [according to a speech by the Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy, Ms. Piper Campbell]
  • Co-Prosecutors of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Send a Witnesses’ Name List to the Judges for the Trial of Duch
  • Siamese [Thai] Prime Minister [Abhisit Vejjajiva] Asks the Cambodian Government Not to Raise the Border Disputes for Discussion by the ASEAN Summit [while the spokesperson of the Cambodian government, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, responded that Prime Minister Hun Sen will raise the border disputes for discussion with Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva at the ASEAN Summit]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4795, 15.1.2009

  • [Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An: It Is Not Necessary to Define when an Anti-Corruption Law Will Be Adopted [because the government is not apathetic about corruption and has taken action to crack down on both large and small scale, and all kinds of corruption – he said during a meeting to greet the new director of the World Bank for the Asia Pacific region, Ms. Annette Dixon]
  • The “DM Group” Prevented a Human Rights Group [of 20 people, including German legal people working at the Senate] to Check Forest Sites Cleared for Planting Rubber Trees in Ratanakiri
  • A UNDP Expert [Ms. Jaye Sitton]: Members of the National Elections Committee Have to Resign from Political Parties [so that the National Election Committee becomes neutral and independent]
  • The Asian Development Bank and Development Partners Provide US$80 Million Grant Aid to Cambodia [to improve good governance, commerce, and health services]
  • The US Government Grants Nearly US$2 Million for Conserving and Maintaining Temples and Ancient Artifacts in Cambodia

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3473, 15.1.2009

  • Civil Society [the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee] Asks the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia to Investigate More [former Khmer Rouge] Suspects

Samleng Yuweakwey, Vol.2, #5, 14-17.1.2009

  • A Journalist [of Meatophum] Was Stabbed to Death to Rob His Motorbike, One Robber Managed to Escape, the Other One Was Arrested and Almost Beaten Dead [by a crowd of people – Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]

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Outlook into 2009 – Sunday, 11.1.2009

Posted on 12 January 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 594 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 594

Observing a wide range of discussions about the future, there are two fields which get most prominent attention: the economy – and the state of law.

As the Cambodian economy – internationally – depends much on the export of garment products and on international tourism, and on a construction boom, we did mirror related reports:

The garment industry was a sure bet in the past – in every of the previous years, this sector grew by 15% to 20%. But this was not an assurance for the future. The situation is bad, but not too bad, some observers say:

In Cambodia 73 factories were closed in 2008, making nearly 25,000 workers unemployed. But 64 new factories opened, absorbing 10,000 new workers. – The export of garments to international markets dropped by 2%, while before, it was expected that it would drop by between 5% and 7%. Therefore the global financial crisis affected this sector very little.

Others are more careful to express their hope: While at present the future looks really to dark, things may change:

Presently received orders will be finished by February and March 2009, and there are no buying orders for May and June 2009.

But buyers from the United States of America probably wait until the new president takes his position in mid January, then they will continue buying.

Investments in the construction industry are also facing big problems:

All construction projects of high rise buildings to develop the city to become a modern city are mostly based on foreign investment in Cambodia. Therefore large scale investments, like those by Korean investors planning constructions for the city, are delayed.

The labor unions say that 30% of the construction workers are laid off, and various projects are suspended; and it is forecast that in 2009 the decline will continue.

And tourism?

The Minister of Tourism recognized that the global financial crisis and the confrontation with Thailand in the Preah Vihear region slows the number of tourists to Cambodia down, but Cambodia will make all efforts to guarantee the safety of tourists, and to promote the further growth of tourism.

The loss of everyday jobs and income for the families is a consequence resulting from the decline in the number of tourists to Cambodia since July 2008.

Such reductions in the economic possibilities are also reflected in the cautious employment policy of the government for new graduates, in spite of the fact that their number is increasing year by year:

The Cambodian government decided to reduce the recruitment of new civil servants from 9,000 to 8,000 to work at different ministries and departments in 2009.

To reduce employment alone will not be sufficient. We will watch out for reports about other determined decisions how to contain and to save expenses.

The plan to spend US$10 million on public lighting in Phnom Penh is surprising in this context. Even if it is intended to do this with a foreign loan, it is not only a liability to be paid back; after the investment is done, a lot of electricity will have to be paid for. Public taxpayer money will have to be spent regularly for the electricity, and this money will go to the producers of electricity; more and more private companies will profit from this.

Of course there is the hope for big oil money in the futue. And the international community has pledged around one billion dollars of aid for 2009.

The scholarly wisdom from the field of Economics and of Business Administration has not prevented a global economic meltdown of a size never before experienced. Now there are many efforts under discussion, what kind of political will and political action is needed to control the economic problems so that they do not get totally out of control. The myth about the “self-regulatory powers of the market” led into global crisis; new bold legislation and new government interventions are now being called for internationally.

There is new movement also in Cambodia in the field of the role of law.

The new year started with an almost unexpected news from the past: after five years of doubts and mistrust in police and in court actions, related to the 2004 murder of the labor leader Chea Vichea, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were released on bail, because, as the Supreme Court judge Dith Munty explained, there is a lack of clarity: the case needs further investigation, as there were gaps in the procedures, and there is insufficient evidence.

There will have to be a lot of explanation to be done, why previous investigations were not done correctly, and how it was possible that gaps in the procedures – which had been pointed out by many, including by the former King – could not be rectified without keeping two persons in prison for five years.

Now the police waits already one whole week for the green light from the court to start the new investigation. It is probably the correct procedure now to wait for the court again. When there is a lack of clarity, new investigations are to be made, according to the law, independently from any outside influence, also independent from the executive branch of the government, according to the Constitution of the country.

Article 51 of the Constituton says:
“The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country. All power belongs to the people. The people exercise these powers through the National Assembly, The Senate, the Royal Government and the Judiciary. The legislative, executive, and judicial powers shall be separate.”

But it is at least surprising that the effort by three persons, accredited by the Bar Association of Cambodia to act at the courts in Cambodia, met with difficulties when hey tried to file a law suit. They want to initiate a clarification by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court about allegations of irregularities at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. They had not been able, in spite of their efforts over several months, to receive certain pieces of information – as we had mirrored on Friday, 9.1.2009, in detail from the Khmer press.

What is even more surprising – not based on any legal expertize, but just on common sense – is that the appeal to a court of law to bring clarity, is not welcome, but is met by an expression of regret. The national judges at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia criticized this appeal to a court with the argument, that they had entered into service at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on the basis of a Royal Decree, signed by the King.

This case brings a basic problem of perception to the public, whether this society will live up to its constitution, where an independent judiciary is to find out what is right and what is wrong, or whether positions of rank will have precedence. Do the national judges at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia not trust that the courts can fulfill their duty?

The fact, that a person had an illustrious career to which he was properly appointed, is no reason not to clarify by the courts and on the basis of the law in a transparent way, whether a person has acted properly or not. When Heng Pov, who was, over the course of time, undersecretary of state, and assistant to the Minister of the Interior, and then police commissioner of the city of Phnom Penh – who had had all the proper appointments – was put to the test by the courts, he failed and is now in prison.

Whoever is innocent, should be happy to have this finally confirmed by a normal, public court. Why not?

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Looking Back and Looking Ahead – Sunday, 4.1.2009

Posted on 5 January 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 593

The beginning of a new year always challenges us – to look back, and to look ahead. In both cases we may gain some orientation. We know, more or less, what happened – but do we understand why? Are we satisfied with what we know? What do we like to continue, and what to change?

Or do we try to look more into the future than into the past? Looking forward to 2009 – but is it with fear, or with hope? May be we have our own clear plans what to do – but will we be ale to make things work out, because many others have the same hopes – or not?

Obviously, we cannot get all the lifetime prosperity, harmony, and affection which people wished for us so that the New Year would be a Happy New Year. But could we, maybe, foresee and say more – not for us as individuals, but for the society were we live?

The last couple of days provided two strong indications about that – but of a contradicting nature.

A paper reported that the president of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court had said – though without using these words – that we do live in a society which is not governed by the law.

Quite a strong statement – because the Phnom Penh Municipal Court court “lacked judges for hearing 6,500 cases in 2008. Being unable to solve many cases like that, makes that hundreds of accused persons are detained beyond the legal limit, which states that the detention of an accused or of a suspect can be up to a maximum of six months. Then they have to be brought to court for a hearing, and if the court cannot find them to be guilty, they must be released immediately. However, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and Khmer courts in different provinces do not abide by this legal procedure, and continue to detain thousands of people for many years without conviction, which is against legal procedure and seriously violates the rights of the accused.” By the end of 2007, there had even been 9,200 such unsolved cases.

Not some uninformed and ill-intended observers said this, but the president of the Phnom Penh Municipal court.

And the future?

The president of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court “acknowledged that Khmer courts are not yet quite in good order; therefore all Khmer courts need many more years to improve.”

The Court Watch Bulletins of the Center for Social Development describe what the accused – guilty or not – will have to endure for years to come (according to the time line given by the president of the Municipal Court): “The municipal court conducted hearings for three criminal cases every day, and half of those hearings lasted only not more than 20 minutes. So the period for hearing each case was very short, just enough to read the verdicts by which the court defined punishments, or defined who were the losers and the winners in a conflict. The result is that each case is not clearly analyzed according to the procedures of the law, and according to the facts. Therefore it is seen that frequently the rich and high ranking officials won cases against poor people, and against people who are not powerful in society.”

The president of the Municipal Court states now that one of the reasons for these regular violations of the law is a lack of staff at the courts: there are not enough judges and not enough prosecutors! There is no reason to doubt this. But we do not remember to have seen, in the press over the years, that the leadership of the courts, the leadership of the Ministry of Justice, the leadership of the government as a whole – responsible in different ways to upheld a state of law – has decried this situation, leading to regular gross violations of basic rights of citizens according to Cambodian laws, and initiated urgent efforts to rectify this situation.

The situation has an even worse aspect, when one considers that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng was quoted to have acknowledges that there is corruption among high ranking police officers.

But is all his going to be rectified – not immediately, but consistently, and step by step, without unnecessary delay?



The Supreme Court Released Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun on 31 December 2008 on bail – they had been arrested on 28 January 2004 and were convicted to serve 20 years in prison by the Phnom Penh court, for killing the labor union leader Mr. Chea Vichea on 22 January 2004.

But the president of the Supreme Court explained now that the present decision – to release them on bail – was made because the murder of the former president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia needs further investigation, as there were gaps in the procedures, and there is insufficient evidence.

This decision was widely welcomed – as it initiates a reconsideration not only of what really happened five years ago, but it will also be necessary to clarify:

  • What went wrong with the investigation of the police, and why?
  • What went wrong at the initial court procedures, when evidence offered by the defense was disregarded, and why?
  • What went wrong when the Appeals Court on 12 April 2007 upheld the convictions of Born Samnang and of Sok Samoeun, in spite of many indications raised in the international and national public – including by the former King – that the initial process was flawed, and why was there no new investigation ordered by the Appeals Court?

There is hope that the present decision of the Supreme Court will lead to justice for the two persons who spent already five years in prison.

But tis is only one side of the problem. The Supreme Court created an opportunity like never before, to go into detail, to clarify what went wrong and why, and who may have to take responsibility for what went wrong, and bear the consequences according to the law.

Not a revision of old, or the promulgation of new legal procedure will make Cambodia a state under the law – only the strict application of the law will help to bring change.

There was never a better chance for this than since the recent decision by the Supreme Court.


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The Supreme Court Releases Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun – Friday, 2.1.2009

Posted on 3 January 2009. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 593

“Phnom Penh: This is a rare and almost incredible decision in the Cambodian court system during these latest decades. The Supreme Court decided to provide justice to Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun by releasing them from prison [on bail]. This was decided by the Supreme Court on 31 December 2008 during the hearing on the murder of Mr. Chea Vichea.

“After a four-hour hearing, the president of the Supreme Court who was presiding over the panel of five judges, the judge Dith Munty, announced to return the murder case of Mr. Chea Vichea to the Appeals Court for reinvestigation and retrial. The Supreme Court decided also to release Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun on bail, but requires them to be present on the dates that the court authorities decide.

“Judge Dith Munty explained that this decision was made because the murder case of the former president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia five years ago needs further investigation, as there are gaps in the procedures, and there is insufficient evidence.

“After the decision of the Supreme Court, the accused Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were immediately brought back to the PJ prison, to wait for the release order from the Supreme Court.

“This decision was welcomed by the families of the released, by civil society organizations, and by the embassies observing the murder case of Mr. Chea Vichea; and the decision was considered to be a new turning point for the Cambodian court system.

“With great happiness, Born Samnang’s parents, Ms. Nuon Kimsry and Mr. Voun Phon, expressed their satisfaction beyond words, outside of the court room, considering that the court had really brought justice.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, who observed the hearing with keen interest, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. This decision is a new turning point in the court system in Cambodia. Now impunity will be eliminated in future by the correct implementation of the law.

“Representatives of several embassies had observed the hearings of the Supreme Court, and the US Embassy released a statement welcoming the decision to release the accused Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun [on bail].

“A few days before the hearing, the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Observatory for Protection of Human Right Defenders, Amnesty International, and the Treatment Committee, 21 organizations of human rights defenders communities, had released statements asking the Supreme Court to provide justice to the accused Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun. Civil society organizations believed that both of them are not the real murderers oft Mr. Chea Vichea.

“A Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, said that the decision of the Supreme Court about the murder of Mr. Chea Vichea is not related to reforms of the court system. He said also that that decision was not made according to someone else’s will or according to political considerations. It is a decision on which no one has the power to influence it, it is the will of the judges who have brought suspicions to an end through the process of the law.

“However, analysts of the murder case of Chea Vichea think that the Supreme Court made this decision because some of the police who built this case (Heng Pov’s group) are mostly criminals, and are now detained. Another point is that Mr. Heng Pov had also said that the former powerful police chief, who had recetly died, was also involved in the murder case of Mr. Chea Vichea. Therefore it is now the time that the Supreme Court acts independently to provide justice to the accused, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, who were imprisoned nearly five years.

“It should be noted that during the hearing of the Supreme Court on 31 December 2008, both Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun claimed that they are not the real murderers who shot dead Mr. Chea Vichea. As for the defense lawyers of the accused Born Samnang and of Sok Sam Oeun, they raised arguments to defend both of them. Sok Sam Oeun’s defense lawyer, Mr. Hong Kimsuon, claimed that both suspects are just persons that the police used to play a farce. Born Samnang’s defense lawyer, Mr. Chum Sovannaly, claimed that Born Samnang’s confession in this case is only a creation by the police who are incompetent [to arrest the real murderers]. They are Mr. Heng Pov’s group who persuaded and used money to lure Born Somnang and created fake evidence to put blame on both.

“The accused Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun had been arrested on 28 January 2004 and were convicted to serve 20 years in prison by the Phnom Penh court, for killing Mr. Chea Vichea on 22 January 2004.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4783-#4784, 1-2.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 2 January 2009

Chakraval, Vol.17, #2838, 2.1.2009

  • Police Has a Spokesperson; [Major-General Kiet Chantharith] Becomes the Spokesperson

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #103, 2-6.1.2009

  • Economist: Prices Can Drop As Long as There Is Intervention from the Government
  • Olympic Market Vendors Protest against the Thai Bunrong Company That Asks Them to Pay Vendors Stalls’ Prices 6 Months before Contracts End
  • Israel Rebuffs the United Nations’ Request for a Cease Fire
  • 10,000 Iranians Volunteer to Register Their Names to Commit Suicide Bombings in Israel

 
Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1835-#1836, 1-2.1.2009

  • Rare Photos Describing Events 30 Years Ago [about the victory over the Khmer Rouge regime on 7 January 1979] Are to Be Exhibited Next Week [at the Wat Phnom Exhibition Center]
  • 266 People Died and 1,103 Were Injured by Traffic Accidents in Phnom Penh in 2008
  • Being Discouraged by Poverty and Being Handicapped, a Man Decided to End His Life by Setting Himself and His House on Fire [Banteay Meanchey]

 
Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #317, 2.1.2009

  • It Is Time to Call [former Phnom Penh police chief, now jailed in Prey Sar Prison] Heng Pov to Reveal the Farce That He Made after the Murder of Chea Vichea [because he had organized to force Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun to confess that they killed Mr. Chea Vichea]
  • On 5 January 2009 Human Rights Watch Will Release a Book about Yuon [Vietnamese] Violations against Monks and against Khmer Krom People

 
Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #173, 1.1.2009

  • [Royal Cabinet advisor] Prince Sisowath Thomico Appeals to Royal Family Members to Stop Doing Politics
  • Deaths from Dengue Fever in Cambodia Declined [from 407 people in 2007 to 65 people in 2008]

 
Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6540-#6541, 1-2.1.2009

  • Observation during the First Day of the Implementation of the Traffic Law in Phnom Penh Shows that 85% of Drivers Wear Helmets
  • Cambodian Railways Concludes Work in 2008 and Issues Directions for 2009 [in 2008, 233,854 tonnes of goods and 4,924 passengers transported
  •  

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4783-#4784, 1-2.1.2009

  • The Supreme Court Releases Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun
  • Buddhist Circles Ask that the ‘Where Elephants Weep’ Opera Apologizes and Stops Performing [because there is criticism by some Buddhists and Monks in the audience. – Note: As this is an opera, all actors sing, also the monks – which seems to have been the rigger for the complaint; on TV station canceled already a program where it had been announce that ‘Where Elephants Weep’ would be broadcast]
  • In 2008, the Government Borrowed US$279.5 Million [and received US$109.3 million as grant aid from financial institutions and foreign countries – according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance]
  • [Father King] Samdech Euv Is Admitted to a Beijing Hospital for Blood Transfusion [because of leukemia]
  • The United States of America Trains Cambodian Officials about Oil Resources Management
  • The US Embassy Welcomes the Decision of the Supreme Court over [the president of Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Mr. Chea Vichea’s Case [where Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were released on bail]
  • Cambodia Joins to Share Condolences for the Death of Former Malaysian King [Tuanku Ja’afar Ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman – at the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh]
  • Eldest Daughter of Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen [Hun Mana] Gets Married [to Mr. Dy Vichea, a Son of the former Director General of the National Police Hok Lundy, who recently died in a helicopter crash,]
  • Fire in a Night Club in Bangkok Killed 60 People Crossing from 2008 to 2009 [it is said that the fire was caused by firecrackers released inside of the club]

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

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Amnesty International Asks the Supreme Court to Release Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun without Any Condition – Thursday, 25.12.2008

Posted on 25 December 2008. Filed under: Week 592 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 595

“On 31 December 2008, the Supreme Court plans to hold a hearing for two suspects who are accused murders who shot dead the president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Mr. Chea Vichea, on 22 January 2004 where the Appeals Court kept the verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicting each of them to serve 20 years in prison.

“In the meantime, Amnesty International released a statement asking the Supreme Court of Cambodia to release the two suspects, Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun. While they are being held in prison, the real murderers and colluders are still free from being brought to be convicted according to the law regarding the murder of this trade union leader.

“Amnesty International said in its statement that the Supreme Court must release the suspects Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun immediately. Both of them were arrested by the authorities a few days after Mr. Chea Vichea was killed by unidentified murderers in the morning of 22 January 2004 at a newspaper stall at the west of Wat Langka; the two suspects will be before the Supreme Court on 31 December 2008,after the Appeals Court upheld the conviction verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to send them to jail for 20 years, even though prosecutors had claimed that there was not enough evidence to convict both of them.

“Amnesty International added that there was tortures to extort confessions from the suspects Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, intimidations of witnesses, and intervention of politics into the implementation of the law. Also, in the detention, there were illegal activities conducted against the two suspects. The Amnesty International suggests for independent investigations in order to bring the real murders to be convicted.

“A researcher of the Amnesty International, Ms. Brittis Edman, said that confessions of the suspects Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were obtained by beating in detention by police, and the promise of awards was used to provide evidence for the court to sentence them to serve 20 years in jail unjustly.

“She added that the two suspects, Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, withdrew their fake confessions and the court cannot considers their confessions as evidence to convict them because they were obtained by force.

“Ministry of Interior spokesperson Khieu Sopeak denied these accusations and said that the court has not rejected to continue investigations by the authorities, and the authorities wait to follow the court’s decision.

“Local and UN human rights organizations in Cambodia went to conduct investigations in a village in Neak Loeang – where Bon Samnang’s girlfriend’s house is – during the Chinese New Year, and villagers asserted that Bon Samnang was at that happy time among them and with his girlfriend, and that he is not the murderer who shot Mr. Chea Vichea to death.

“Also, the former King had said that Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun are not the murderers who killed Chea Vichea. Every year, officials of many human rights organizations regularly gather for a prayer according to Khmer tradition, like releasing birds and floating balloons, to give signs of the demand to the court to release the suspects Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, to be free like other Khmer citizens.

“Mr. Chea Vichea’s younger brother, Mr. Chea Mony, had called on the court to release the suspects Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, saying that they were not the real murderers. A woman who was a newspaper seller at the west of Wat Langka, where Mr. Chea Vichea was murdered on 22 January 2008, had written to the Appeals Court from Bangkok in Siam [Thailand] before she left to a third country, after receiving the right to asylum, saying that she had seen the murderers clearly, and Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, who are being detained, are not the real murders who killed Mr. Chea Vichea. But she could not say it immediately when the event had happened, because the police prohibited her from making a statement, and they made her to say what police planed for her to tell journalists and officials of national and international human rights organizations [before she fled abroad in fear].

“Heng Pov, who is the former Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief, now a prisoner convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to have been involved in many crimes, to serve more than 60 years in prison, is considered by officials of human rights organizations as an important witness to help Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun be free from the 20-year prison term conviction [because Heng Pov, who arrested the two suspected during his power, had said that both of them are not the real murderers]. Officials of human rights organizations ask the judges and prosecutors to allow the authorities of the government to call Heng Pov as a witness in the hearing of the Supreme Court, which is planned to happen on 31 December 2008 next week.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3648, 25.12.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 25 December 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1829, 25.12.2008

  • Awarding Ceremony for Three Cambodian Journalists Competing to Write ‘Reporting on Rural Development’ [Ms. Kang Kalyan from Cambodge Soir won the first price receiving US$700, followed by Mr. Tieng Mongkul from Sahakum Kien Svay winning $500, and Ing Chamroen from Cambodge Soir on the third rank winning US$300.
  • Siamese [Thai] Minister of Foreign Affairs [Kasit Piromya – กษิต ภิรมย์] Apologized [to all Thai citizens for what he said during a press conference: that the demonstration to occupy two airports was a happy event]
  • Brazil Buys Weapons from France Worth US$12,000,000,000


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #311, 25.12.2008

  • Khmer Kampuchea Krom Communities Condemn Hanoi [for preventing two members of the European Parliament to go to Vietnam]


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #167, 25.12.2008

  • Local Fuel Companies Reduce the Fuel Prices, but the Prices of t Goods at Markets Remain Unchanged


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6534, 25.12.2008

  • There Are More Than 600 Newspapers and Magazines and 18 Journalists’ Associations, but a Representative to ASEAN Has Not yet Been Found [according to the Ministry of Information]
  • US$1.4 Million Is Needed for the Organization of the District-Provincial and City Council Elections [which are planed to be held between 15 January 2009 and 15 June 2009]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3648, 25.12.2008

  • Amnesty International Asks the Supreme Court to Release Bon Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun without Any Condition
  • [Former Khmer Rouge foreign minister] Ieng Sary Has Serious Heath Problems [his legs swells] and He Was Sent to the Calmette Hospital, Causing More Serious Concern [that he might die before truth is revealed]
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Plans to Summon Six More Suspects to the Court [according to the international co-prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Robert Petit; however, a date was not mentioned]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4777, 25.12.2008

  • Hundreds of Logs [around 400 cubic meter] Cut and Piled up near a Rubber Plantation of a Military Officer in Ratanakiri [but his assistant said that the logs were cut for building two big bridges in Ratanakiri, as proposed by citizens; forestry officials have not yet taken action to seize the logs]
  • The Ministry of Interior Said that the Royal Government Has a Plan to Divide Russey Keo into Two Districts [because of the rapid growth of the number of citizens, its large size, administration management, and the rapid growth of development]
  • Vietnam Delivers [sixteen] Documentary Films Related to the Khmer Rouge Regime to the Documentation Center of Cambodia
  • Man with His Girlfriend Drove on a Motor Taxi and Hit a Parked Truck Loaded with Gravel, Causing Two Deaths and Inuring One [the motor-taxi driver and the woman died while the man was seriously injured – Sihanoukville]
  • North Korea Warns It Will Destroy South Korea to Ashes [it accuses South Korea of trying to create war]
  • Michael Jackson Has Lung Problems and His Left Eye Is Almost Blind

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