Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Director of ADHOC, Mr. Thun Saray, Criticizes the Slow Creation of Mechanisms to Respect Human Rights - Wednesday, 22.10.2008

Posted on 23 October 2008

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 583

“Mr. Thun Saray, the director of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – spoke on 21 and 22 October 2008 during the discussion in a national workshop about the ASEAN Charter, the three institutions of ASEAN [ASEAN Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community], and an ASEAN Human Rights Institution. He said that in our world, the Asian region is the slowest to create a Human Rights Mechanism to promote the implementation of human rights in the region. However, during the period of the latest years, we see that much efforts have been made by officials of the governments as well as by many civil society organizations to encourage the creation of an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism.

“But before coming to the creation of a regional Human Rights Mechanism, it is important to first have an ASEAN Charter [1 MB, PDF]. On 20 October 2007, which was the 40th anniversary of the creation of ASEAN, the ASEAN summit had adopted an ASEAN Charter in Singapore [to establish a legal and institutional framework for ASEAN]. The ASEAN Charter speaks clearly about the creation of an ASEAN Human Rights Institution, but the Charter does not state the mandate or power or composition etc. of the Human Rights Institution.

“Cambodia has the ASEAN Charter already ratified on 18 April 2008. By 18 April 2008, six countries had it already ratified. These countries were Brunei, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam [but the text mentions only five countries!]. Since then, the governments of ASEAN formed a senior group to draft documents about the Human Rights Institution.

“In the meantime, while the efforts by government officials of ASEAN continued, also civil society organizations tried to create their own alliance to collect ideas from different organizations in the region to be made into one document as a joint recommendation for the work in the struggle of ideas to persuade officials from different governments in ASEAN to include our comments into the documents, to create a regional Human Rights Institution which is efficient to promote human rights in the region.

“The Solidarity for Asian People’s Advocacy – SAPA – and Forum Asia have already organized such workshops in some countries in the region, like in Malaysia, in order to collect opinions and recommendations from civil society organizations. On 21 and 22 October, these organizations come to cooperate with the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC - and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – to organize workshops in Cambodia in order to collect opinions and recommendations from civil society organizations in Cambodia.

“Recently, ADHOC had presented a report about human rights abuses in Cambodia in 2008, showing that by July 2008, 64 cases showed that the number of human right abuses still strongly increased, compared to human rights abuses in previous years. Regarding these human rights abuses, ADHOC shows in most cases the connection to authorities of the government, like police, military police, village and commune chiefs, and court officials in some provinces and cities, acting against weak citizens.

“The report of ADHOC continues that among these cases, 34 cases related to threats against political activists and 2 cases related to the destruction of state property, 8 cases were related to physical assault, 12 cases were murders, 2 cases were kidnappings, and 6 cases were illegal detentions of humans. In July 2008, the number of threats against political activists increased dramatically to 34 cases, happening mostly during the previous fourth term parliamentary election campaign.

“Among those cases of human rights abuses, 20 cases happened in Kompong Cham, 10 in Siem Reap, 11 in Kampot, and 5 in Stung Treng. ADHOC considers that those provinces suffer from a higher rate of human rights abuses than other provinces in the country. Each human rights abuse, particularly physical assault related to politics, consists of the physical assault and the arrests of activists of parties that do not have power, it relates to the illegal actions by commune offices which were committed by the authorities, by police, soldiers, as well as by the military police who always used their power to arrest and detain citizens – which is against legal procedures – or to arrest citizens without arrest warrants from a court.

“The report went on to say that some authorities use their roles and their power to injure the weak, making them become victims very unjustly – while perpetrators and their helpers are still free from prosecution by the authorities. This shows the use of roles and of power to abuse the law by the authorities, and it shows the abuse of law and a bigger culture of impunity in Khmer society, at the present, due to the use of power beyond what the laws set.

“These cases represent most serious human rights abuses committed by the authorities, by military police, police, court officials etc. who mostly seek benefits for their partisans and for individuals; the government should take action to persecute them according to the law, and to punish any official who breaks the law; and the government should conduct reforms, so that the citizens can trust the institution of the court again.”

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #123, 22.10.2008
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Wednesday, 22 October 2008

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