To Trust the Law Means to Trust that the Law is not only Written, but that It Is Implemented – Sunday, 29.8.2010

Posted on 30 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 679 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 679

Important Announcement

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

Thanks,

Norbert Klein
Editor of The Mirror

Social stability depends on a situation where the citizens trust that the law is implemented. Not every time when somebody thinks to be treated unjustly this is also true. But the fact that every week there are several reports of demonstrations of groups of people, in different parts of the country, who feel they are suffering injustice – mostly related to land use and land rights – should be a sign of alarm. Social stability can be enforced for some time, but that is different from social stability based on peace and justice.

In 2002, the Prime Minister had said in his opening speech to the Consultative Group Meeting between representatives of the Cambodian Government and representatives of cooperating countries and international institutions:

“We are conscious that corruption in the public machinery, be it judiciary or administrative or any other, increases transaction costs for everyone and reduces predictability in law enforcement and implementation of government’s policies… The government believes that enactment of adequate laws and regulations to prevent and punish corruption is crucial for addressing this problem.”

And in December 2005 he warned that if illegal land seizures were not brought under control, they could lead to a farmers’ revolution.

Are these words of the Prime Minister out of date?

Seeing that during many of present demonstrations people carrying pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady shows that many people still have hope in interventions by the Prime Minister to provide justice – even when they have lost confidence that the normal process of the courts will achieve this goal.

Violations of the law happen regularly and massively, as claimed in the Cambodian press, and this is also confirmed by high ranking officials of the government. Just to quote some examples from the current week reported in The Mirror:

  • Contraband Is Massively Imported while Members of the Authorities Are Collecting Colossal Amounts of Money
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Had Often Warned against It, but Frequently Heads of Some Institutions and Units Continue to Nominate Their Children’s Spouses or Other Relatives to Take Their Positions When They Retire
  • Tax Officers Who Collect Excessive Amounts of Money from Road Tax Payments Face Dismissal [so this is happening]
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Order to Intercept Forestry Crimes Is No Longer Followed [recently, there is more illegal wood transported]
  • Disabled Veterans and Retiring Civil Servants Complained about Difficulties to Get Their Salaries [as they were told to wait from day to day]

Not all press reports are verified – but if there are repeatedly reports about the same kind of violations, one would expect concerned statements from the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, explaining to the public what the authorities are doing to check what is going on to rectify what is wrong.

It is surprising that, instead, the spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, when requested to look into problems in the way society is operating in spite of the regulations of the Constitution of 1993, made appeasing statements. He said that the government always rules the country following the law, adding, “If the opposition party wants further reforms beyond this, it has to wait until it wins the elections.” Many people who are convinced they suffer injustice do not want to see a complete political change, they just want to see that the laws and the Constitution of 1993 are really implemented.

When the 2010 report of Amnesty International drew the attention to the plight of thousands of Cambodian citizens suffering from forced relocations – in case of Group 78 in the Tonle Basak commune and other cases – the same spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers accused Amnesty International not to have studied the actual situation. Even accusations were made that such reports about the plight of Cambodian people asking for justice are only written to gain money for the writers. One might expect that the spokesperson would rather elaborate what the government is doing to help the people who have lost their homes, where they had had their livelihood – though poor – established for many years.

Will the Minister of Justice also be accused of “not to have studied the actual situation” for blaming the court system of not functioning according to the law, and therefore not delivering justice:

  • The Ministry of Justice Released a Letter to Warn Judges and Prosecutors Who Read Newspapers during Hearings and Assign Clerks to Assume Their Responsibility Instead

When a Delegation of the European Parliament recently visited Cambodia to study the medical sector, they observed the gap between what the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says, and the realities they met. The Mirror carried repeatedly reports about sick people who could not get proper attention in hospitals if they were not able to pay first.

The public is not so much interested in claims by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers that everything is all right. It would rather be interesting to read more about what measure are taken or planned to bridge the gap between the requirements of the Constitution – from which we quote here – than to be referred to a possible change by electoral vote, if the people want to see the Constitution implemented.

Some related quotes from the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia – always interesting and important reading:

  • Article 72: The health of the people shall be guaranteed. The State shall give full consideration to disease prevention and medical treatment. Poor citizens shall receive free medical consultation in public hospitals, infirmaries and maternities.
  • Article 74: The State shall assist the disabled and the families of combatants who sacrificed their lives for the nation.

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Local Unemployment Pushes More Khmer Workers to Migrate – Wednesday, 18.8.2010

Posted on 19 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Local Unemployment urges more Khmer workers to migrate to find jobs in foreign countries, especially in Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Siam [Thailand], and Taiwan. This makes many Khmer citizens to suffer from the exploitation of their labor, and lead to human rights abuses and forced labor, which make them to get sick and sometimes it leads to fatal sicknesses. In addition, sometimes Khmer workers who were domestic servants, have been mistreated and did not have sufficient nutrition, and the companies that sent them to work abroad, never cared about their living conditions.

“According to officials of a human rights organization, there are 26 licensed companies that are sending Khmer workers abroad, but there are also some unlicensed companies. Many Khmer workers abroad suffered from various abuses, and some of them died. When Khmer workers endured such misery or died abroad, the companies did not intervene to find justice for the victims, and also the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training did not help to find proper solutions, following the laws of Cambodia.

“Officials of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO], said that they received information about four victimized women who asked for intervention to take them back from Malaysia in July 2010. Some were mistreated by not having enough food, some were beaten and even raped, and some were forced to work like cattle without a break. Those who work at factories were forced to work overtime, straining their working conditions, and violating the previous promises of companies in Cambodia, as the actual situation in Malaysia is quite different from the promises.

“Officials of human rights organization in Cambodia said that from 2008 to 2010, they have received 92 complaints from Khmer workers abroad, and there were 130 victims. Some female workers who just returned from Malaysia said that they were mistreated by not having enough food, they were insulted and intimidated. This happened to them since they were sent to work as domestic servants in Malaysia. More than that, their passports were taken away, so that they had difficulties in finding outside assistance and to return to Cambodia, unless they were able to run to the Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia.

“According to officials of the Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility [CARAM] organization that monitors the situation of migrant workers, about 20,000 female workers are laboring in Malaysia, more than 200,000 in Siam [Thailand], about 9,000 in Korea, and many others in Arab countries, as well as in Japan and in Taiwan. The executive director of CARAM, Mr. Ya Navuth, said that poverty, unemployment, and the threatening global economic crisis force Khmer citizens to leave Cambodia to find jobs in other countries. More and more Khmer workers migrate abroad, though they already know that they will have to face many difficulties. Observers noticed that poverty, unemployment, and no land for farming are factors that make Cambodian citizens to take the risk to seek jobs abroad. These factors are the results of wrong policies of the government that does not contribute to broad economic growth, so that citizens can get jobs and earn an income to live properly. Formerly, the government banned citizens from migrating abroad – like to Thailand – but the government does not create jobs for a large section of the population, for people who are unemployed, so that they cannot earn their daily living.

“Officials of human rights organization in Cambodia discovered that many Khmer workers suffered from abuses of their human rights and of violations of labor laws, and from being trafficked, but they did not gain much support from officials of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training under the administration of [Minster] Vong Soth. Contracts between workers and companies exist only on papers, while in reality companies both in Cambodia and abroad violate those contracts. In fact, the conditions set in the contracts are good, but at work at their destination, companies take away their passports , and worst of all, their difficulties do not receive caring attention from the companies at all.

“Officials of human right organizations watching over migrant workers noticed that by now, there is still no mechanism to address the difficulties of workers abroad by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, though it is reported that some companies forced Khmer workers to labor like slaves day and night. More than that, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training seems insensitive about the scandals of some companies, sending workers abroad, though those companies violate the labor law.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3961, 18.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2330, 18.8.2010

  • The Daun Penh Authorities Gathered 23 Homeless People [and sent them to the Phnom Penh Social Center]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7037, 18.8.2010

  • Police Intercepted 245 Kg of Wildlife Meat to Be Exported to Vietnam [perpetrators have not yet been caught – Ratanakiri]
  • In 2010, There Were More Intercepted Cases of Human Trafficking Than Last Year [in the first six months of 2010, 104 suspects including 10 foreigners were detained and there were 269 victims]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3961, 18.8.2010

  • Local Unemployment Pushes More Khmer Workers to Migrate

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #33, 18.8.2010

  • Court Will Hear [the opposition party leader] Sam Rainsy’s Case on 8 September 2010 over a Charge of Disinformation
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asked the Citizens to Eat Pork Again, but They Must Cook It Well [recently, there was a breakout of blue ear diseases on pigs, which had led to the banning of pig imports from neighboring countries]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #239, 18.8.2010

  • The Government Promised to Cover 50% of the Risk of Loans in Agriculture – the government will cover 50% of the risk of loans by commercial banks providing loans for the expansion of rice production, so that Cambodian rice export can reach 1 million tonnes by 2015]
  • Four Vietnamese Citizens Were Tried for Illegally Operating Brothels [if they are found guilty, they will be sentenced to serve from two to three years in prison]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5279, 18.8.2010

  • Cambodia Sets 2015 as the Year When At Least One Million Tonne of Rice Is to be Exported [according to Prime Minister Hun Sen – that would be an 80-fold increase in 5 years !!!]
  • A Robber Shot Dead a Teacher to Rob His Motorbike in Stung Meanchey District [Phnom Penh]

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A Civil Society Group for Social Accountability and for Transparency Asked the Anti-Corruption Unit to Take Action on Tax Officials – Tuesday, 17.8.2010

Posted on 18 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: A Civil society group for social accountability and transparency demanded the Anti-Corruption Unit to take action against a section of the tax collecting system for taking more money than what the invoices issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance state.

“In the morning 16 August 2010, a civil society group for social accountability and transparency organized a press conference at the Baitong Restaurant in Phnom Penh about their fight against corruption in the form of excessive tax collection for vehicles.

“The president of the Independent Democratic Association of Non-Formal Economy, Mr. Von Pov, said during the conference that every year from July to October, a tax collection is implemented countrywide by tax officials of the Tax Department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Kingdom of Cambodia. The collection is carried out in order to build up the national budget for the restoration and maintenance of public infrastructure, and all Cambodian citizens are obliged to pay tax on their vehicles, such as cars and motorbikes, though they suffer from the global economic crisis.

“Mr. Von Pov added regarding the tax collected by tax officials, that civil society groups for social accountability and transparency noticed that most citizens, who own vehicles, were forced by tax officials to pay an excess amount over that stated on the invoices issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. He added that at present, 1,391,565 cars and trucks, and 11,356,398 motorbikes [the number of motorbikes given is unrealistically high – that means that about 80% of all citizens, including babies and the whole rural population – own a registered motorcycle; we assume the number includes a mistype and may be 1,356,398 – Editor] have been registered and allowed to travel in Cambodia and they are required to pay tax. On average, if a vehicle is required to pay an additional amount of Riel 2,000 [approx. US$0.50] to tax officials, that means Cambodian citizens waste about US$1 million each year. This is corruption resulting from public officials using their positions as public officials to gain personal gain, so that corruption does not refer only to the stealing of money.

“Mr. Von Pov went on to say that to contribute to achieve the second stage of the Rectangular Strategy and to promote good governance, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, especially the Tax Department, must supervise tax officials so that they work following the official calculations for the collection of taxes. Also, the Tax Department must punish officials who commit offenses, or collect administrative fines from them, if they collect amounts beyond the tax invoices, and the Anti-Corruption Unit must take measures in such cases.

“A Coordinator of the East Asia and Pacific Social Accountability Network, Mr. San Chey, said that even though invoices are issued by the Tax Department, still excess tax collection happens, particularly in the Ponhea Leu district in Kandal and Prey Veng. He added, ‘We will submit reports within one week to the Tax Department to take action.’

“After there had been such criticism about excess tax collections by tax officials, the Tax Department released an announcement on 10 August 2010, where the third point reads, ‘Before paying tax, please read the tax tables posted publicly and pay accordingly the amount set in these tables. If tax officials demand more, please report their names and ID Card number to the Tax Department.’

“The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng, could not be reached for comments on Monday evening, but he used to say in a previous press conference that corruption relates not only to big money, but even 50 cents can also be considered as corruption.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2329, 17.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2329, 17.8.2010

  • A Civil Society Group for Accountability and for Transparency Asked the Anti-Corruption Unit to Take Action on Tax Officials
  • The Minister of Agriculture Called On Citizens to Eat Pork Again [claiming that the ‘blue ear disease’ of pigs does not infect people]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7036, 17.8.2010

  • Cambodia Adheres to Peaceful Positions; while in Cambodia, the Secretary General of ASEAN, Mr. Surin Pitsuwan, Asked Cambodia and Thailand to Be Patient [in solving their border disputes]

Meatophoum, Vol.54, #796, 16-21.8.2010

  • Cambodia Asked Vietnam to Help Solve the Border Dispute [with Thailand; according to a letter sent by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam – who is at present chairing ASEAN – to help either within the structure of ASEAN, or directly

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3960, 17.8.2010

  • Which Tax Officials are Punished for Forcing Citizens to Pay Excessive Taxes?

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #32, 17.8.2010

  • Cambodia and Iran Signed an Agreement to Create an Economic Committee in Order to Step Up Economic Cooperation [economic cooperation between Cambodia and Iran will focus on on tourism, the oil industry, investments, agriculture, industry, Iranian export of technical services and engineering, and the exchange of expert delegates]
  • Three People Were Killed and Three Others Were Injured by Lightning [Kompong Cham]
  • Police Burnt again Chicken Meat of No Quality, but Have Never Caught a Persons Who Owns It [Banteay Meanchey]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #238, 17.8.2010

  • Prosecutors [of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] Appealed against the sentence of Duch, [the former Tuol Sleng prison chief, who was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, but considering his past jail term and the reduction of punishment, he will have to serve only about 19 more years]
  • Thailand Arrested a Cambodian Man Accusing Him of Spying [as he walked near a Thai military base; according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, he might be released after there was investigation and a request for his release by Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5278, 17.8.2010

  • A Vietnamese General [Le Van Dung] Visits Cambodia to Consolidate the Military Cooperation between the Two Countries
  • Six People Were Killed and Ten Others Were Slightly Injured in Traffic Accidents [in Phnom Penh and Preah Vihear, on 15 August 2010]
  • The Club of Cambodia Journalists Reacted against the Detention of a Kampuchea Thmey Journalist [as he was detained just for a minor traffic accident; the Club of Cambodian Journalists expressed concern, and considers it as a violation of human rights, protected by the Constitution of Cambodia]

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The World Bank Provides US$23 Million for Education – Monday, 9.8.2010

Posted on 10 August 2010. Filed under: Week 677 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

“Phnom Penh: According to an announcement of the World Bank on 5 August 2010 in Washington, the World Bank approved US$23 million as grant aid and loan to reinforce higher education in Cambodia.

“The announcement reads that of the US$23 million, US$11.5 million is grant aid and the other US$11.5 million is a loan.

“The World Bank Country Manager in Cambodia, Mr. Qimiao Fan, stated, ‘Investment in human resources for sustainable development and poverty alleviation is part of the strategy of aid for Cambodia.’

tho”According to the announcement about funding for Cambodia, released on Friday evening [6.8.2010], the project to strengthen higher education quality and to promote capacity aims at consolidating teaching quality, management, and research capacity, and will also provide scholarships to students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to study.

“The World Bank Country Manager added, ‘I hope that the new project will help Cambodia, especially the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport, to strengthen quality standard of education as well as to build up educational capacities for the public and the private sectors.

“High ranking officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia welcomed this aid – it is what Cambodia needs for the development of human resources. Also, such development requires involvement from the local authorities, donors, and non-government organizations.

“The five-year project will concentrate on:

  1. Strengthening of the capacity of higher educational systems in Cambodia by promoting the development, management, and good governance of higher education institutions. This includes strengthening the capacity of the Department of Higher Education, the Department of Research and Studies, the Committee on Quality Education, and of institutions of higher education.
  2. Contributing to development of competitiveness and new kinds of loans that can help consolidate teaching and management, as well as offer real solutions to developmental problems in Cambodia.
  3. Providing scholarships to students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to study, based on the definition of the target groups of the poor, and on educational criteria.
  4. Monitoring and assessing the management of the project.

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #25, 8-9.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 9 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2322, 8-9.8.2010

  • Most Citizens in Banteay Meanchey Stop Eating Pork [because it is infected with diseases, which harm the people’s health]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7029, 9.8.2010

  • The Head of the Royal Government Protested [by sending letters] to the United Nations about Abhisit’s Remarks Threatening to Use the Army [Mr. Abhisit allegedly was quoted by The Nation, to have said “…we will cancel the Memorandum of Understanding of 2000 if the problems of aggression cannot be settled. We will use both diplomatic and military means.” Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed this remark violates the UN Charter]
  • Fifty Three Male and Female Teen Gang Members Were Rounded up in Siem Reap

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3953, 9.8.2010

  • A Human Right Organization [the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] Condemned the Actions of the Authorities against Representatives of the Residents of the Chi Kraeng District, Where at Least Forty Six People Face Arrest [after they protested over a land dispute in Siem Reap, and some were already detained since 2009]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #25, 8-9.8.2010

  • The World Bank Provides US$23 Million for Education
  • A Man Was Fatally Axed by an Unknown Person, Leaving His Wife and Daughters [Kandal]
  • The UNESCO Secretary General Asked Cambodia and Thailand to Negotiate over the Preah Temple Issue [on 7 August 2010]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #232, 9.8.2010

  • A Woman Fainted and Six Others Were Injured in a Protest Was Confronted [by police and bodyguards] over a Land Dispute [around 50 citizens from Battambang came to protest in Phnom Penh over a land dispute of 1,672 hectare with a military police official – a picture from the Phnom Penh Post is accessible here:]

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Supports the Khmer Krom Position [and appealed to the Cambodian government not to cooperate with the Vietnamese government to restrict the freedom of expression of Khmer Krom people]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5271, 8-9.8.2010

  • Thai Extremists Set a Deadline for the [Thai] Government to Cancel the Memorandum of Understanding [signed in 2000 Cambodia] within Seven Days [otherwise they will protest again in front of the Government House]
  • Cambodia Warned that Thailand Would Become a Lawless Country if It Decided to Cancel the Memorandum of Understanding about Border with Cambodia [Deputy Prime Minister Sok An is quoted to have said so]

Note

1

As the “MoU” is frequently referenced – though we are not aware that it has ever been published in the Khmer press (if it was, we would appreciate information when and where this was done) – we present here its Article V, as it was quoted by the Thai side in the context of the work foreseen in the minutes of the World Heritage Committee about the decision in 2008 to list the Temple of Preah Vihear, saying that the World Heritage Committee

  • “Encourages Cambodia to collaborate with Thailand for safeguarding the value of the property, in view of the fact that peoples of the surrounding region have long treasured the Temple of Preah Vihear,..
  • “Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners, to examine general policy matters relating to the safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in conformity with international conservation standards…”

Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary. 14 June 2000

Article V

To facilitate the effective survey along the entire stretch of the common land boundary, authorities of either Government and their agent shall not carry out any work resulting in changes of environment of the frontier zone, except that which is carried out by the Joint Technical Sub-Commission in the interest of the survey and demarcation.

According to this Article V, certain activities in the border area require mutual coordination and cooperation.

2

It should also be noted that the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has no intention to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding about the border with Cambodia. In a live television debate of several hours last Sunday, with representatives of the newly-formed ‘Thailand Patriot Network’ and civil society groups, including some “yellow-shirt” persons from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who request the cancellation of the Memorandum of Understanding, the Thai prime minister not only publicly rejected their request during this live TV debate, he also stated again the position of the Thai government to respect the 1962 decision of the International Court of Justice, that the Temple of Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia and not to Thailand. – What is necessary, he says, is to work according to the Memorandum of Understanding of 2000 on the border.

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Borders Link and Borders Separate – Sunday, 4.7.2010

Posted on 7 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

The Mirror carries regularly reports about incidents considered to be border violations, but much more frequently information about smuggling. Some people are caught and sent to court; the border with Thailand has been beyond regular control, so that finally an attempt had to be made that even a large number of illegal border crossings had to be brought under control, as The Mirror had reported on 10 June 2010, from which we quote again:

Illegal border entries closed in crackdown

Between 30 and 40 illegal border crossings in Banteay Meanchey province have been closed in an attempt to curb the smuggling of pigs, gas, petrol, fruits and expired perishable foods from Thailand to Cambodia, provincial officials said Wednesday.

“We have closed more than 30 illegal border crossing points along the border with Thailand to stop smuggling, and this closure is forever,” Banteay Meanchey deputy governor Im Phoansophal said…

He declined to provide any figures supporting this claim, though he accused local businessmen of resorting to smuggling in order to evade taxes.

“Businessmen have always used these illegal crossing points to smuggle their goods. They prefer to do things this way because they don’t want to pay tax on items, and they think it will cost less to just bribe local officials,” he said.

Obviously, these 30 to 40 border crossings had been used regularly and formally – though illegally – for some time, before there was an effort made to put this chaotic situation to an end. This surely does not mean that there is no illegal border crossing going on any longer at the Cambodian-Thai border, which extends for about 800 kilometers, for long stretches through forested areas.

When a Thai newspaper published a report, saying that Thai anti-government activists, suspected of having been involved in the bombing of a building in Thailand during the recent violent confrontations in Bangkok, had entered Cambodia, Cambodian government officials quickly denied this and accused the Thai government and the Thai media of making false accusations against Cambodia.

The Phnom Penh Post reported on 29 and 30 June 2010:

In a statement issued Monday, the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers said there was no evidence the men had entered Cambodia. The statement also called on the Thai government to end what it described as a “malicious campaign to fault Cambodia…”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Monday that the allegations were “stupid.”

“Cambodia completely denies this kind of provocative information,” he said…

In addition to arguing that there was no evidence that the two fugitives were in Cambodia, the Council of Ministers statement called on the Thai government to end its “malicious campaign to fault Cambodia,” and accused it of “fanning acts of provocation against the Kingdom of Cambodia.” …

But Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,… also said the names of the two fugitives cited in the report on Monday – Warisaya and Kobchai – had not appeared on registration lists at the border.

“The border always registers people when they cross the border, and the two names mentioned as suspects were not on that list,” he said. “They raise incorrect information. When Thailand has problems, they blame Cambodia.”

“If Thailand denies that they have accused Cambodia, then they should make corrections in all their media that have published such false information,” he said.

“I think this is a play from the Thai government officials, who speak out without taking responsibility for their comments.”

These official and massive Cambodian denials – assuming that nobody could have crossed the border without having their names registered in an official border crossing list – were combined with accusations against the Thai government and media, requesting “they should make corrections in all their media that have published such false information.”

This war of words was accompanied by the forwarding of a document by the Spokesman and Deputy Director for Press Department of the Office of the Council of Ministers, the Press and Quick Reaction Unit – a document written by Pen Ngoeun, an Advisor to the Office of the Council of Ministers and member of the Advisory Board of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers, representing “only the personal opinion of the writer, and does not reflect under any shape and form the opinion of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit nor that of the Office of the Council of Ministers.” In spite of this disclaimer, it is interesting that this long document was widely published at this time and with this background, asking: WILL THAILAND’S ENMITY TOWARDS CAMBODIA END.

This long document is accusing that Thailand, since 150 years, has taken a negative attitude against Cambodia. “This writing is not a piece about history, but as far back as the eyes can see, the Kingdom of Thailand has kept its enmity towards Cambodia,” which is similar to “the current state of mind of the government of Abhisit Vijjajeva, with ‘former terrorist’ turned foreign minister Kasit Pyromya, and the malicious and machiavellic [deputy prime minister] Suthep Thaugsuban at his sides…” This negative attitude was also the cause which made Cambodia to entrust its destiny to French colonial rule. “Thailand always acts like a hungry mad dog that missed a good piece of meat and had never stopped dreaming about it, since.”

“Finally, Thailand has made official, its territorial ambition on Cambodian territories in 2007 in Christchurch, New Zealand during the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee by presenting for the first time to such an important international gathering a map dressed up unilaterally and secretly by Thailand and thus laying claim on an area of 4.6 km sq. inside the Cambodian territory near the Temple of Preah Vihear, as an objection of various uncoordinated, confusing, illegitimate, and nonsense motives to the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear to the World Heritage List.

Would Thailand wake up from the bad dream of a hungry mad dog? It had to be decided by Thailand. It had nothing to do with Cambodia.”

It is appropriate to say that not only persons in positions of political leadership will have to find ways to help to establish good neighborly relations. This will also be necessary in Cambodia, not only by using a different type of language, but also by seeing some facts, not published in Cambodia and therefore hardly seen, and therefore also not considered in Cambodia.

What this Advisor to the Office of the Council of Ministers and member of the Advisory Board of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers calls “various uncoordinated, confusing, illegitimate, and nonsense motives to the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear to the World Heritage List” related to the contested 4.6 square kilometers around the Temple of Preah Vihear, is described with quite different words in a document, based on a meeting at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris, signed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on 18 June 2008, inscribing the Temple “without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple” – “without prejudice to the rights of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand on the demarcation works of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary.” The related map, superseding the maps formerly presented in Cambodia’s nomination file, signed by the chairperson of the Border Committee of Cambodia Var Kim Hong at the same time, is here:

Cambodian map around Preah Vihear Temple

Cambodian map around Preah Vihear Temple

Joint Communique

The meeting was held in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.

During the meeting both sides agreed as follows:

  1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription, at the 32th session of the World Heritage Committee (Québec, Canada, July 2008), of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached. The map also includes, identified as N.2, a buffer zone to the East and South of the Temple.
  2. In the spirit of goodwill and conciliation, the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple.
  3. The map mentioned in paragraph 1 above shall supersede the maps concerning and including the “Schéma Directeur pour le Zonage de Preah Vihear” as well as all the graphic references indicating the “core zone” and other zoning (zonage) of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file;
  4. Pending the results of the work of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary (JBC) concerning the northern and western areas surrounding the Temple of Preah Vihear, which are identified as N. 3 in the map mentioned in paragraph 1 above, the management plan of these areas will be prepared in a concerted manner between the Cambodian and Thai authorities in conformity with the international conservation standards with a view to maintain the outstanding universal value of the property. Such management plan will be included in the final management plan for the Temple and its surrounding areas to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre by 1st February 2010 for the consideration of the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;
  5. The inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List shall be without prejudice to the rights of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand on the demarcation works of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary (JBC) of the two countries…

Finally, after, and in spite of all the strong denials and accusations, the two Thai bombing suspects, Kobchai Boonplod and Varisareeya Boonsom, were arrested in Cambodia and handed over to Thai authorities.

We recall:

“If Thailand denies that they have accused Cambodia, then they should make corrections in all their media that have published such false information.”

“I think this is a play from the Thai government officials, who speak out without taking responsibility for their comments.”

Will this now – with reversed roles – be considered and implemented in Cambodia?

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The Ministry of Interior Asked for the Establishment of Public Expression Compounds at Cities and Provinces – Saturday, 3.7.2010

Posted on 6 July 2010. Filed under: Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

“Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Cambodia asked all municipal governors to establish locations for public expression, following the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations.

“According to a letter from the Ministry of Interior to the district and municipal councils and municipal governors that Kampuchea Thmey received on 2 July 2010, signed by the Minister of Interior, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations had been announced by Royal Decree 1209/025, dated 5 December 2009, to replace the demonstration law of 1991 of the State of Cambodia. According to Article 14 and 25 of the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations which becomes valid after six months, each province and city must create public expression sites, choosing appropriate compounds or centers in the areas under their authority which people can easily know and find to conduct peaceful demonstrations or to express their ideas publicly; the maximum number of participants is 200 people.

“The letter from the Ministry of Interior adds that in order to have agreements about the creation of public expression sites in provinces and cities, the Ministry of Interior called for meetings for internal discussion between district councils and governors to create public expression sites with a minimum size of 600 square meter (15 meter by 40 meter).

“Regarding the creation of public expression sites by the Ministry of Interior, the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, who had led several demonstrations, Mr. Rong Chhun, spoke to Kampuchea Thmey in the evening of 2 July 2010, saying that it is not necessary for the authorities to create public expression sites, as this is a restriction of the freedom of expression, but the Ministry should allow the people to demonstrate at the places they want.

“Mr. Rong Chhun added, relating to the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations, he had often defended the opinion that citizens can protest at the places or institutions they prefer. He said that the creation of public expression sites is not necessary, as most citizens want to protest in front of the institutions where they want their protest to be heard. Therefore, when public expression sites are established far from such related institutions, their expression or protest will not be cared for.

“Mr. Rong Chhun went on to say that according to this Law on Peaceful Demonstrations, if any citizens does not protest at the places designated, they violate the law.

“In Phnom Penh, the authorities had checked a location at a park at the west of the Dragon Bridge [near Wat Phnom] to establish a public expression site in accordance with the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #22, 3.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 3 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol. 9, #2291, 3.7.2010

  • The Ministry of Interior Asked for the Establishment of Public Expression Compounds at Cities and Provinces
  • More Than 700 Cartons of Ecstasy [about one million tablets] Recently Imported Were Intercepted [five people including a Chinese man were arrested – Phnom Penh]
  • Traders Illegally Export River Sand Abroad by Using Old Licenses [previously, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that river sand must not be exported, but it is for local use only]
  • Samdech Euv [the former King] and Samdech Mae [the former Queen] Go to Beijing [for medical checkups]
  • Within Five Months of 2010, there were More Than One Million International Tourist Arrivals in Cambodia [an increase by 11% compared to the corresponding period in 2009 – according to the Ministry of Tourism]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6998, 3-4.7.2010

  • Japan Granted US$2.26 Million as Salaries for National Staff at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [from April to September 2010]
  • The Head of the Royal Government [Prime Minister Hun Sen] Ordered the Demolition of Reservoirs in the Regions 2 and 3 [in provinces around the Tonle Sap lake] in Order to Save the Tonle Sap Lake [as such reservoirs affect bio-diversity and the eco-system – the order did not say anything about the reservoirs in a third region]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3922, 3-4.7.2010

  • When Will Relevant Officials Declare Their Property as Required by the Anti-Corruption Law?
  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy: That Yuon [Vietnam] Removed Its Border Marker [Number 184 in Svay Rieng] Invading [Cambodian territory] Indicates Success in Protecting the Eastern Territory
  • The Ministry of Interior Requires All Municipal Authorities to Create Public Expression Compounds with a Minimum Size of 600 Square Meters

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5240, 3.7.2010

  • The Authorities Asked 70 Monks of the Srah Chak Pagoda to Leave the Pagoda Temporarily for Reorganization [after a monk secretly filmed nude girls bathing with holy water – Phnom Penh]
  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An Asked Italy to Help Repair and Conserve the Preah Vihear Temple [according to his meeting with the Italian Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Michelangelo Pipan]
  • 449 People Having Cholera and Other 4,000 Alleged Cases Were Found [in Kampot, Koh Kong, Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Thom, Kratie, Pailin, Phnom Penh, Prey Veng, Pursat, Ratanakiri, and Sihanoukville, resulting from the use of unhygienic water, as there is a lack of water in the dry season; 60 people died already, according to officials of the Ministry of Health]

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The Sam Rainsy Party Supports the Development of the Triangle Economic Zone, but Suggested to the Government to Think of Some Bad Impacts – Wednesday, 30.6.2010

Posted on 5 July 2010. Filed under: Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

“The acting spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Kim Sophearith, said that all development must be linked with the interest of the nation and of the citizens. He said so on Tuesday 29 June 2010, after the secretariat of the National Assembly released an announcement on Monday 28 June 2010, that the National Assembly will hold an annual international conference in Kratie about the role of the parliament in encouraging and strengthening the development of the triangle zone.

“The announcement says that a conference between the Commissions on Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly of Cambodia, Laos, and Yuon [Vietnam] will be organized for four days, starting from 6 July 2010, aiming to step up friendship and cooperation between countries that are good neighbors, and to participate more actively to jointly encourage friendship, solidarity, and cooperation in the border regions of the three countries.

“It is noticed that Cambodia and Laos would gain little benefit from the development of the triangle economic zone, while Yuon, the initiator, benefits most. The triangle economic zone might create big industrial factories where Yuon can create best productivity processes, with the production for sale in the region, while Cambodia and Laos cannot do the same.

“Mr. Kim Sophearith added that he supports the development plans of the government, but the development must be thoroughly studied to discover any bad impacts in advance, because both development or poverty alleviation will have its impacts on the economy in Cambodia, to progress as in neighboring countries.

“Analysts noticed that most development plans of the government by investments, from local or from foreign investors, frequently victimize Khmer citizens. Obviously, in Phnom Penh, thousands of poor families, or tens of thousands of people, had suffered misery from intimidation, violence, human rights violations, or were imprisoned by the authorities or by development companies, like in the case of Sambok Chab and in the case of Dei Krahom in the Bassak commune, Chamkar Mon district, Phnom Penh, where citizens were evicted from their settlements where they had been living for a long time, now moved to the suburbs of Phnom Penh, where there are no adequate utility system, no schools, and no hospitals.

“Citizens in the Boeng Kak area in the Tuol Kork district are also being victimized by the development plans of the Shukaku company which belongs to Yeay Phou, well-known as a businesswoman among many in Cambodia, who is close to high ranking officials of the ruling party. Some citizens said that they had been offered very few solutions from the state, and some did not receive any, because the state carried out expropriation legislation adopted by the National Assembly earlier in 2010.

“The Sam Rainsy Party considers that this law will affect many poor families when the state intends to develop an area and then requires citizens living in that area to leave, even without receiving any compensation. Also, the development in the northeast of Cambodia in Ratanakiri or in Mondolkiri had seriously affected many ethnic minority people and their communities, when the government provided concession land to local and to foreign companies for their development.

“At present, many ethnic minority people are losing the traditions handed down from their ancestors, because they do not have the land of their graves any longer, or the land for cultivation. In addition, in Kompong Thom, various families of veterans who died or are disabled were victimized by the provision of economic concession land to a Vietnamese company to plant rubber trees.

“Thus, can this not be considered as development based on the misery of Khmer citizens? Moneaksekar Khmer criticizes this intending to ask the government to look at the difficulties of the many Khmer citizens who have been jailed due to such developments, where the government does not think sufficiently of the benefits for poor people. Therefore, because of the bitter lessons and experiences mentioned above, when planning the development of the triangle zone of the three countries – Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam – the Cambodian government must conduct thorough studies in advance about possible bad impacts on the environment and especially on the citizens in the region, as suggested by the acting spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Kim Sophearith, who said that all development must be linked with the interest of the nation and of the citizens.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3919, 30.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #517, 30.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister [Yim Chhay Ly], and the Senior Ministers [Chhay Thorn and Tao Seng Huor and two other officials] Are Infected with A/H1N1 [Swine Flu – according to the Ministry of Health]
  • The Ruling Party Condemns Those Who Block the Demarcation of the Border [while the opposition party says that it will continue to check the border demarcation in order to ensure transparency and independence]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2288, 30.6.2010

  • There Is No Bribery in the Demolition of Reservoirs around the Tonle Sap Lake [claimed the Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Mr. Lim Kean Hor – it is said that some people who own reservoirs try to bribe officials so that their reservoirs are not demolished]
  • Burma Plans to Create Direct Flights to Cambodia [but has not specified the exact date]
  • Chemicals Are Still Applied on Food [to make it look fresh and to prevent the fly] Sold at Markets [which affect the health of eaters]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6995, 30.6.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Decided Not to Pay the Fine [approximately US$2,000] of Mu Sochua [for losing a defamation case with Prime Minister Hun Sen], while a Treasury Official Said that the Deadline for the Payment Is 1 July 2010
  • A Court Decided to Detain a Defrocked Monk in Prey Sar Prison, as there Were Pictures of 627 Beautiful Girls Found on a Memory Stick, Bathing [nude] in Holy Water, Whom He Had Filmed Secretly

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3919, 30.6.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Supports the Development of the Triangle Economic Zone, but Suggested to the Government to Think of Some Bad Impacts

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #204, 30.6.2010

  • Thailand Released [ten] Cambodian Citizens [and two soldiers] Arrested [for crossing the border illegally]
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua: If I Was Afraid [of being jailed], I Would Not Have Sued the Prime Minister [she was aware of the possibility of losing the case against Prime Minister Hun Sen and of getting jailed, before she decided to sue him. Now she is required to pay a fine, but she will not pay it and rather get jailed, as she considers the verdict not to have provided justice]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5237, 30.6.2010

  • Inquiry: Violence against Women in 2009 Declined Much Compared to 2005 [according to a study about 3,040 citizens in 24 provinces and cities, the violence by husbands against wives declined from 64% in 2005 to 53% in 2009]
  • A Prince [the Duke of Gloucester] Who Is a Royal Family Member of the English Royalty Visits Siem Reap and the Banteay Chhmar Temple [to observe the repair of the temples by the Global Heritage Fund]
  • “Cultural Life in the City” Is the Theme of Cambodia during the World Exhibition in Shanghai [China]

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Cambodia Is Side-Tracking in Implementing the Anti-Torture Convention – Monday, 28.6.2010

Posted on 3 July 2010. Filed under: Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

“The international community celebrates the 23rd anniversary of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Cambodia became a member of this convention in 1992.

“By now, it has been 20 years that Cambodia has become a member of the Convention Against Torture of the United Nations. Human rights group noticed that among the 146 members, Cambodia has achieved little improvement in implementing the Convention. In addition, Cambodia seemingly continues to hide torture against persons who have not been found guilty. Sometimes, torture against suspects became a habit.

“During the international anniversary commemoration, civil society organizations expressed strong concern over the violation of the Convention. Moreover, no thorough investigations have been conducted over torture and mistreatments against suspects who had not been found guilty but had been arrested. Some cases of torture against a person were extreme. In some cases, there was just a suspicion, but law enforcement officials acted beyond the law. That means law violations seem to have been grave, and victims often did not dare to react. Additionally, there was not much effort to seek legal intervention. Therefore, some law enforcement officials often committed wrongdoings.

“According to a statement by Cambodian civil society organizations, in 2007, Cambodia ratified the additional Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and this was seen as a positive step where Cambodia took up more obligations to create an independent protection mechanism to observe all prisons, so as to prevent the use of torture in Cambodia. But things did not go in line with the situation of the world, as it was seen that there were still cases where the agreements entered were neglected in the implementation, not following international laws.

“Civil society organizations called on the Royal Government of Cambodia to fully cooperate with the Committee Against Torture of the United Nations that will come to conduct a second assessment in Cambodia, in November 2010, on the measures taken to ensure effectively following obligations according to the UN Convention Against Torture, and to fully comply with the final observations of the Committee Against Torture. This is a reminder by civil society organizations for the Cambodian government to check what it agreed to carry out, when it became a member of the UN Convention Against Torture, and when it ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture in 2007.

“Torture was not only used against the accused, but also against some suspects to extort information from them. These are the results from the culture of impunity spreading in Cambodia at present, leading to extending of the application of torture against the accused and the suspects. Obviously, the use of ‘citizen courts’ (where citizens act directly, like in some cases where a mob lynched suspects and perpetrators), to sentence robbers is a sign also encouraging the spread of torture in prisons. Many people have been released from prison, but their behavior did not change, as prisons are not places that educate them to walk on the right way. In contrast, prisons are places where torture is used to extracy answers for the authorities. Thus, Cambodia is viewed as not strictly taking up what it had agreed to practice when it became a member of the Convention Against Torture.

“This is a disappointment for civil society, as there are many problems in prisons, especially the use of torture by the authorities during interrogations. Torture is an important topic, because in prisons there are many issues such as corruption and torture. Hopefully, as member of the Convention Against Torture for almost 20 years, Cambodia will make positive changes over some secret happenings in prisons, otherwise crimes cannot be cut down, since those released from prisons continue to cause fear to the society.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3917, 28.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 28 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #515, 27-28.6.2010

  • The Person Who Filmed Beautiful Girls Bathing in Holy Water is a Monk of the Srah Chak Pagoda [after a video clip leaked of nude women bathing in holy water, police investigated and found out that a Srah Chak Pagoda monk had hidden a camera to film them; he was arrested and defrocked – Phnom Penh]
  • The Wife of the Spokesperson of the US Embassy [Mr. John Johnson] Suffered Serious Injuries after a Car Accident [in Sihanoukville]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2286, 27-28.6.2010

  • The UN Special Rapporteur Surya Subedi Apologized to the Cambodian Prime Minister [for using the word “disappointed” as he could not meet with Mr. Hun Sen]
  • [The head of the National Authority for Combating Drugs] His Excellency Ke Kim Yan Asked Common Citizens to Be Brave to Report Real Information to the National Authority for Combating Drugs or Directly to Him If They Are Afraid that There Is Collusion [between police and drug smugglers]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #692, 27-28.6.2010

  • [The executive director of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation] Thach Ngok Thach Said that Khmer Kampuchea Krom People Are Disappointed when Samdech Euv [the former King] Did Not Raise the Case of Yuon [Vietnamese] Mistreatments [of Khmer Kampuchea Krom people]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6993, 28.6.2010

  • More Than 200 Pieces of Luxury Grade Wood Were Seized [they had been gathered by wood traders to export them to Vietnam [no info about any punishment of the wood traders – Ratanakiri]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3917, 28.6.2010

  • Cambodia Is Side-Tracking in Implementing the UN Convention Against Torture

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5235, 27-28.6.2010

  • Human Rights Activists Called on the Cambodian Government to Implement the UN Convention Against Torture
  • The Construction of a Bridge of 2,215 meters at Neak Loeung [across the Mekong River in Prey Veng] Will Start at the End of 2010 [under grant aid from Japan]

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Not Everything Legal is Considered Legitimate – Sunday, 20.6.2010

Posted on 22 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 669 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 669

A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health spoke against the economic exploitation from blood donations and blood infusions during an event at the occasion of the World Blood Donors’ Day. Did she say that the financial transactions related to blood donations and transfusions are illegal? No. They are legal. But she still considers these business aspect as “totally against the moral of medical professionalism, and such behavior must be avoided.”

We encounter here a situation where something that is legal is still being considered not to be legitimate. No law is violated, but still some people claim to have good reasons to say that it is not acceptable.

And the Secretary of State elaborated further about the consequences of such a discrepancy, when – from a moral perspective – a legal but illegitimate action leads to a loss of “trust from the general public” in medical institutions which are involved in such actions.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Subedi, is quoted to have made a similar remark. Speaking to journalists he said that several reasons: “the lack of resources, institutional problems, and the interference from outside of the court system have created institutions which are not trusted by citizens.”

He did not say that the law is violated – but still: the result is not trusted by many citizens.

Probably it can be said that many actions which caused the sufferings and the deaths of many people under the Khmer Rouge regime were implemented according to the law – the laws of that time – and still a basic feeling for justice considers them not to have been legitimate.

To question legality in the name of legitimacy is not without problems – but still it has to be raised in every society which is built on basic human values, such as the values stated in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia; nobody can avoid to face this dilemma.

As reported by Reuters, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia stated at the end of his third mission to Cambodia on 17 June 2010, that he was troubled by the land disputes and the apparent inability of the poor to get a fair hearing in court. And in a reference to the government’s tough stand on dissent, he expressed concern about what he called a narrowing of the political space for debate. He has the duty to report the results of this visit to the UN Human Rights Council, and he will do so in September 2010. Again: there was no statement claiming that laws are violated – but also a clear indication that he understands that there is doubt and lack of trust in the courts, and in the legitimacy of the results of court actions, felt and expressed by many people.

Facing this situation , the head of the government’s Cambodia Human Rights Commission is quoted to have said already that he expects that the assessment by the UN Special Rapporteur will not be correct, as he was in the country only for a short visit.

It is a general phenomenon that flawed or wrong information and opinion can best be countered and maybe corrected by open and transparent communication – but this may also lead to clarify that there are different, even opposing opinions.

The rapporteur, Mr. Surya Subedi, expressed also that he was disappointed that he could not meet the Prime Minister – a meeting had been scheduled only for the end of his 10-days visit, and the visit could not materialize because the Prime Minister was unwell.

In response, the Prime Minister criticized Mr. Subedi, considering it as a sign of disrespect that he said he was disappointed about the Prime Minister’s illness. “Every time he’s come here, I’ve met him,” Hun Sen said. “From now on, I’ll see him just once a year. I hope he will hear this: I’m ill, I don’t need to report to you,” Hun Sen added, accusing Subedi of wanting to “colonize” his country.

The necessary exchange of information and of opinion with Mr. Subedi, as the United Nations appointed Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, will not become easier. When Cambodia was “colonized” like many other countries by European powers and by Japan were colonized, this was done with military threat or lethal force. It is not obvious why this service of the United Nations, agreed upon with the Royal Government of Cambodia, looking into the status of the human rights situation in Cambodia, considering the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the laws based on it, is an effort to colonize Cambodia.

If it were not that hundreds of people would demonstrate – often holding pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady whom they trust that they will help them to find justice – and thousands of people gave their thumb prints to raise their concerns, considering that they have been unjustly evicted – Mr. Subedi would not listen. He listened also to these people after meeting government representatives and members of the judiciary. And these people are among the ‘masters of their own country” according to Article 51 of the Constitution, and they have the right to struggle, with all other sections of society, that the application of the law is felt to be legitimate.

Where this social consensus is lost – like recently in large section of the Thai society – this can lead to serious problems.

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Most of the Important Positions at International Border Crossings Are Not Reassigned, not Following a Sub-Decree – Friday, 21.5.2010

Posted on 22 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: Important positions of some officials – such as police, customs, and CamControl – at border crossings for international travelers and at border crossings for local travel are, at present, not reassigned properly, contrary to the terms that are clearly set by the Royal Government in a sub-decree.

“Sub-Decree 64, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2001, that consists of 13 chapters and 39 articles, clearly speaks about the structure for the administration, and the roles and terms of the officials that must be followed.

“According to Chapter 8, about the terms in Article 29, the head of border crossings for international travelers, and the officers at border crossings for local travel, the heads of sea ports, and the heads of other expert authorities must be reshuffled every two years. According to Article 30, officials stationed at border crossings for international travelers, and at other border crossings, will be reshuffled every year.

“But in reality, those officials collude with each other systematically, and important officials are not reshuffled according the terms as clearly stated in the Sub-Decree of the Royal Government. On the contrary, most officials holding important positions, such as in the police, or as tax and custom officers at international border crossings, and at other border crossing for local traffic, stay in their lucrative positions more than five years, and some even up to eight years, and the relevant ministries do not reassign them. In addition, the number of ‘mixed officials’ [police, tax officials, CamControl, and local authorities] at each international border crossing point is too high.

“It is seen that when related ministries and institutions do not implement the terms for the officials working at international and other border crossings for relevant ministries for years, without being reassigned, those officials use their positions to commit all kinds of corruption. They commit dishonest activities for personal gain and seek money for bribing the higher levels, so that they can stay in their positions longer, which leads to the loss of income for the state.

“In Chapter 11 of the Sub-Decree about penalties, Article 35 clearly states that officials who take the opportunity to use their positions and power to arbitrarily create difficulties for travelers, for for owners of vehicles, and relate to all types of goods crossing the border, or who violate their duties, will be convicted according to the law. However, in reality, none of them has been punished. Officials working at the same border crossing for several years usually make the citizens, and especially big traders feel afraid of them, as they think that officials who can stay at their posts for many years are not normal cases: they must have the backing of some high ranking officials. This allows those officials to do whatever they want.

“The Sub-Decree also established a monitoring procedure, with a representatives from the Council of Ministers as the head, and representatives from other ministries and institutions, and from the related municipalities, according to a notification from a Minister of the Council of Ministers, to monitor the activities and to checking the related offices, in order to report to the head of the government.

“But the mechanism seems ineffective for the day-to-day activities at international and other border crossings. Some police, customs, and CamCotrol officials are not reshuffled as required according to the sub-decree. Those officials use money collected at the border crossings to control the flow of document themselves. Some do this directly with the departments and their staff at each ministry. Others do it directly through the Customs Office, so that they can hold their positions at border crossings for years.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen warned on 6 April 2010 during the closing convention of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, that even if they fail to reshuffle, officials will be punished according to their terms that seem to allow those officials to commit corruption systematically as they know the place well.

“A parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, told reporters that through direct monitoring at some international border crossings, such as the Poipet border crossing, the international seaport in Sihanoukville, and the Smach international border crossing in Komopong Cham, there are many organizational structures of administration, and more than 1,000 coalition personnel involved, including police, military, and CamControl officials, and local authorities.

“Mr. Cheam Yeap added that the collection of state income is destroyed by corruption, committed by a small number of people working at those border crossing points. If an official takes, personally, just Baht 5 or Riel 1,000 or Riel 500 to buy something to eat, pretty much money is lost. They cause difficulties for the trading of citizens and of national and international investors. He suggested that the number of those officials should be reduced by half in order that much benefit can be contributed to Cambodia.

“Therefore, related ministries must check these unclear points, because the collusion not to reshuffle important positions of officials at international and other border crossings, and the too high number of officials, seriously violates the Sub-Decree signed by the head of the Royal Government.

“Many officials who do not have high ranking officials backing them and have no money to bribe higher levels, complained that they could not stay at good posts like others, because those working at such good posts are not reshuffled as before, but there are biddings for positions. This is a bad model for law enforcement which requires reforms.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5203, 21.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 21 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #483, 21.5.2010

  • The Phanpimex Company Destroyed a State Electricity Cabin to Claim Land [Phnom Penh]
  • The Garment Sector Creates Employment for More Than 300,000 Workers [in Cambodia, despite of the global economic crisis]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2254, 21.5.2010

  • Robbers Armed with AK Rifles Robbed a Village Chief in Banon District, Battambang [taking away some money and jewelries]
  • Opportunists Committed Looting and Robberies and Burnt Down [about 35] Buildings in Bangkok

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #769, 21.5.2010

  • The Great Heroic King [the former King] Should Raise the Restricted Freedom and Human Rights Issues of Kampuchea Krom People in His Meetings with Yuon [Vietnamese] Leaders during His Visit to Yuon [Vietnam – no date of his visit is specified]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #661, 21.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson] Yim Sovann: Mr. Om Yentieng Has Made No Achievements in Combating Corruption [recently, Mr. Om Yentieng was nominated head of the Anti-Corruption Unit – he will be automatically also a member of the Anti-Corruption Council, the body that is supervising the Anti-Corruption Unit; it seems that this construction implies that the head of the Unit is also supervising himself]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6961, 21.5.2010

  • More Than 30 Buildings Were Burnt Down in Bangkok – the International Community [the European Union and the United States of America] Condemned the Violent Suppression, but Were also Surprised with the Violence of the Demonstrators
  • In a Raid on a Drug Site in Sihanoukville, Sixteen People Were Arrested [for drug smuggling]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3885, 21.5.2010

  • The Opposition Party Calls the Prohibition to Visit [two] Farmers Being Jailed [for removing border markers in Svay Rieng] a Breach of the Rights of Parliamentarians

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #176, 21.5.2010

  • The Cambodian People’s Party Will Create Quick Reaction Youth Teams Countrywide [before the elections in 2012 and 2013]
  • The Nomination of Mr. Om Yentieng [a senior advisor of the Prime Minister] Invites Criticism [he was appointed by Prime Minister Hun Sen as the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit – the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that Mr. Om Yentieng is not able to fight corruption as head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee of Cambodia under the Council of Ministers, and also, he might be influenced by Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5203, 21.5.2010

  • Most of the Important Positions at International Border Crossings Are Not Reassigned, not Following a Sub-Decree
  • Cambodia Loses US$45 Million Each Year due to the Import of Pigs from Thailand [about one million pigs are imported to Cambodia each year, affecting local pig raisers; according to the head of the Cambodian Macro, Small, Medium Enterprise Project [MSME] of USAID, Mr. Curtis Hundley]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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