Saturday, 11 July 2009

A Group of Soldiers Come to Intervene, Raiding the Battambang Forestry Department, to Take Back Wood – Friday, 10.7.2009

Posted on 11 July 2009.
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 620

“Battambang: According to a report delivered to Kampuchea Thmey, at 10:00 in the morning of 8 July 2009 – at Chrab Krasang village, Wat Kor commune, Battambang – a group of forestry administration officials launched a raid on a truck loaded with 20 pieces of neang nuon, a type of luxury wood, of more than five cubic meters, transported by businesspeople on a truck using the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces number plate 07.3-4326, driven by Sa Moeun, a soldier of the Border Battalion 502.

“Forestry administration officials said that after the truck was intercepted, Sa Moeun immediately told them that they could not confiscate the wood, as it belonged to Major-General Bun Seng, the commander of Military Region 5.

“The forestry administration officials went on to say that after Sa Moeun had said that the wood belongs to Major-General Bun Seng, forestry officials led official personnel to prevent the truck from leaving. However, just ten minutes later, a group of soldiers, who were all armed with weapons, came by car to intervene, to let the illegal truck go, while forestry official could only stand by and look on sadly.

“The Battambang forestry administration chief, Mr. Ly Chou Bieng, told Kampuchea Thmey via telephone that the fact that armed soldiers came to intervene to take back the neang nuon wood loaded on the truck, is seriously wrong. He has already filed a complaint to the Battambang Municipal Court to issue a warrant to request the wood back and to keep it as evidence, to solve the situation according to the law.

“But some people said that there is little hope for action from the Battambang Municipal Court issuing a warrant to bring the wood back as evidence, because obviously, there had been already a first attempt to crack down on a crime, but we did not have a handle to halt their actions, and once there was an intervention to take the wood, it is not easy to take it back.

“Civil servants in Battambang criticized that even though there is a law for this field, Mr. Sa Moeun, a soldier of the Border Battalion 502, ordered soldiers, armed with weapons, to intervene to get the wood back illegally, which is a crime, and furthermore he dragged the name of the commander of Military Region 5 into the event, while actually, Mr. Bun Seng simply does not even know anything about this case.

“Kampuchea Thmey phoned Major-General Bun Seng several times for a comment, but we could not reach him.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1992, 10.7.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 10 July 2009

Cambodia's old temples - without the crowds

July 11, 2009
John Burgess
The Washington Post

It's early on a Sunday morning in Cambodia, and I'm standing at a 12th-century moat. Traces of mist hover above the lotus leaves that dapple the water. Across a causeway, through a tumbled-down gate, lies Banteay Chhmar, one of the largest temples ever built by the ancient Khmer Empire. My friends and I will have the place all to ourselves.

We walk in. It turns out that we do end up sharing it, with a local man who brings his cows onto the grounds to graze. And with an affable mason who leads us across acres of fallen stone to see a message from the past, an inscription chiseled into the door jamb of a holy tower. This kind of company we welcome.

Cambodia's great temples of Angkor, 100 kilometres away, have long since been rediscovered after a quarter-century of closure by war. They now draw more than a million foreign visitors a year, not a few of whom regret that so many other people had the same idea. At peak hours, human traffic jams can form at temple steps.

But go beyond Angkor and you can find places that serve up the old solitude and sense of discovery.

Banteay Chhmar is among the most spectacular of these places. Getting to it entails hours on very bumpy and dusty dirt roads. Staying the night means making do with primitive accommodations: candlelit rooms in local homes, bath water drawn from that same moat.

I stayed the night, and it turned out to really make the visit. The next morning I rose early, as everyone here does, and took a walk in clean country air. I passed hens foraging with their chicks, boys tending to a mud oven in which charcoal was being made. I was seeing not only a temple but a way of life.

Today several thousand people -- rice farmers, cattle herders, market vendors -- make their homes on all four sides of the temple. They grow vegetables on the banks of a series of moats; they pile straw within the walls of lesser ancient buildings that dot their settlement. The ancient and present day coexist.

Spending time here also means doing a good turn, spreading a bit of wealth in a part of a war-recovering country that has largely missed out on the tourist dollars that Angkor is bringing in. People do have cellphones (charged by generator), and some have small tractors, but there are few other signs of affluence.

Banteay Chhmar was created in the Khmer Empire's last great burst of construction, under the 12th-century Buddhist king Jayavarman VII. His engineers were thinking big even by Khmer standards: To contain a great settlement, they built earthworks and moats that formed a square measuring roughly one 1.5 kilometres on each side. At its centre, within another square moat system, they built the temple.

More than a century ago, French archeologist Etienne Aymonier found the temple to be in a state of "indescribable ruin.'' It still is, despite the efforts of the friendly mason, who is part of a small reconstruction team. But that's part of what makes the site so enticing.

Exploring it means climbing over piles of large fallen stones. We passed ruined towers, courtyards and ceremonial walkways. Sometimes the stones were so high that we were walking at roof level.

The temple is no longer a formal religious site, but Cambodians believe that it, like all those that their forebears left behind, remains a holy site. In one surviving chamber we found a small contemporary shrine, with a Buddha image wearing a cloth robe, where people made incense offerings.

One of the best parts of this temple is the many bas-reliefs on its outer walls. We had to scramble up more stones to get a good view. Before us was a full sample of life 900 years ago: processions of elephants, prominent ladies tended by maids, children roughhousing, villagers in a sampan, servants tending a stove.

There were also many scenes of war with Champa, a long-vanished rival state to the east: The temple is in large part a memorial to four generals who lost their lives in that long conflict. On land, the men of arms go at one another fiercely with spears (you can identify the Chams by the curious blossom-shaped headdress they wear). On water, rows of men pull at oars from galleys as others strike at the enemy with spears. There are also images of the divine, notably the god Vishnu, with 32 arms arrayed like rays of light.

The carving style is similar to that of the Bayon temple reliefs in Angkor. The difference is there's no need to fight for a view. We did cross paths for a few minutes our first day with a party of about 20 French-speaking tourists. We saw no other visitors that day or the next.

Late in the afternoon, we went to see what the ancient Khmers could do with water. Just east of the temple, they created a big reservoir. Academics disagree over whether it did only symbolic duty as an earthly stand-in for the mythic Sea of Creation, or was part of an irrigation system, or both. Whatever the truth, I was awed by the scale.

The reservoir was now largely dry, but because its floor is low and collects water, it has been divided into rice paddies. We went for a stroll, walking along paddy dikes to keep our feet dry.

We said hello to members of a farming family who were tinkering with a small tractor. A woman had caught a bucketful of paddy crabs and insects, which she would sell as food.

I spent the night at the house of a Cambodian family, friends of a friend. They couldn't have been more gracious. They gave me a room, bottled water, mosquito coils and a big luxury: a car battery hooked to a fluorescent light.

Other members of our party slept at a formal homestay, the term given to guesthouses.

It had two rooms with large beds covered by mosquito nets. Downstairs there was a basic bathroom with a squat toilet and scoop bath.

In the morning we went exploring on foot. Mixed in among wooden homes we passed were the stone walls of lesser 12th-century relics that had been monasteries or small temples. The ruins of one temple's gate lay foliage-shrouded just a few steps from a house. Little boys ran about, and a teenage girl ironed clothing.

We had breakfast at a stall in the town's market; there are no proper restaurants. It was noodle soup with chicken, and very good.

I first visited Angkor in 1969. Back then, you could be alone in the big temples there. I once walked through the largest of them, Angkor Wat, encountering hardly a soul.

It's good to know that such an experience can still be had. You just have to work a bit harder for it.

If you go:

? Getting around: There is no public transportation to the sites described here; wheels are on a bring-your-own basis. Tour companies in Siem Reap will arrange visits. If you feel adventurous, you can strike deals directly with taxi or motorcycle drivers and go on your own.

Being Mealea and Koh Ker can both be visited in one long day. Banteay Chhmar, at four hours each way, is a bigger challenge to reach. If you're entering Cambodia overland from Thailand, you can save time by turning north at Sisophon town to reach the temple.

? When to go: Winter is Cambodia's peak tourist season. Avoid March, April and May, the peak time for heat. Don't be scared off by the summer-through-fall rainy season. The rains typically occur only in late afternoon.

? Where to stay: A French non-profit organization has been helping Banteay Chhmar operate a homestay program. It provides for overnight accommodations, often in a guesthouse next door to the host family's home; meals; local culture performances; and an ox cart ride. Tour companies can book you. Or you make direct contact by emailing program co-ordinator Tath Sophal at:

Being Mealea isn't really far enough from Siem Reap for an overnight. Koh Ker has guesthouse accommodations.

? For more information: The

official Cambodian tourism site is

Cambodians still traumatized by legacy of Khmer Rouge

Published: 07/10/09

KAMPONG SPEU, Cambodia — They started arriving before 8 a.m., middle-age men and women, poor rice farmers mostly — damaged survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime.

The Documentation Center of Cambodia, a private research organization that collects evidence of the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, was bringing to this small provincial town a video projector and a DVD. It shows highlights of the current defendant’s testimony in the Khmer Rouge trial under way in Phnom Penh.

“I want to contribute to engaging the victims in the court process,” explained Youk Chhang, the center’s director. “Some Cambodians have moved on. But there are others who still suffer, and these are the ones we are targeting.”

That’s just who he got.

For an hour, about 75 people watched transfixed as Kaing Guek Eav, commander of S-21, the notorious prison/torture chamber where thousands of Cambodians died, described his crimes. He is better known as Duch, and he told how he supervised as his soldiers executed victims by whacking them on the back of the head with a hoe.

Duch is 66 now and looked directly at the judges with a calm and confident gaze, seeming to be the commander still, as he confessed to his terrible crimes, apologized and asked for forgiveness.

“I was given a directive to use a plastic bag to suffocate prisoners,” he acknowledged.

When the video excerpts ended, the room sat silent — stunned, it seemed. A documentation center official asked audience members to talk about what they had seen. The DVD was paused on a scene in which Duch seemed to be staring directly at the crowd with a stern, almost threatening, gaze.

The first woman who raised her hand took the microphone and promptly broke into tears. “Forgiveness is not acceptable,” she declared, wiping her eyes. “They killed my father and two older brothers.”

Next a middle-age man told of how six of his relatives died, and as he spoke his large brown eyes grew red and filled with tears. Still another man was choking up so that his words were hard to understand.

“I was a child, and I was starving,” he stammered. “They gave us no food, and sometimes I would fall down and pass out and then wake up again.” And so it went.

Cathartic? Perhaps. Injurious? Maybe.

The problem is, almost half the adult population of Cambodia, those over 35 or 40 years of age, shows symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a severe psychological condition that typically afflicts soldiers, but also civilians who live through trauma — like the horror here 30 years ago. And for them, psychiatric experts say, watching a video like the one these people saw is like poking a stick in a hornet’s nest. It triggers all of the symptoms: pain, rage — even violence.

One medical study of Cambodian refugees in Long Beach, Calif. — the nation’s largest concentration of Cambodians — found that 62 percent of the adults had PTSD. That and other studies found a generally dysfunctional population with high levels of alcoholism, drug use — and terrible violence.

Daryn Reicherter, a psychiatrist at Stanford University, served as a consultant to the Documentation Center here in the spring and came back concerned.

“There needs to be some medical follow-up with these people” after the show has ended, he insisted.

So far, the Documentation Center has trucked more than 10,000 villagers to Phnom Penh to see the trial — or brought DVD excerpts to show in their own villages. Youk Chhang understands the doctors’ concerns but points out that he is a researcher, not a treatment specialist. The government, he says, should provide any needed psychiatric services. But then, Cambodia has only about 26 psychiatrists in the entire nation.

Yim Choy, a 44-year-old farmer, shouted at the crowd, saying that he had been conscribed to a child-labor team. “I cannot forgive Duch,” he declared, his voice laced with bitter anger. “How can I when I saw him throw little boys against a tree?”

Afterward, he told me that, even now, he cannot talk about those times without growing angry. And yet he has a hard time keeping the thoughts out of his mind. He even dreams of the horrors — a hallmark of PTSD.

“I see myself with my hands tied behind me.” All of that makes him angrier still.

After watching scenes like this, Reicherter posed a rhetorical question: “Why is this important?”

“Children are growing up,” he explained, “with violent, PTSD parents who are drunk and beat them. That’s the generation that is coming.”

Joel Brinkley, a McClatchy Newspapers columnist, is a former Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for The New York Times and now teaching at Stanford University. Contact him at

Nuke business in top gear in France on eve of PM's visit

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Delhi (IANS) As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh goes to Paris on Monday, France is moving ahead rapidly to implement its bilateral civil nuclear pact with India. French company Areva is close to finalising a contract for two nuclear reactors to be set up in Maharashtra.

Paris is pulling out all stops to welcome Manmohan Singh, who will be the chief guest at France's National Day celebrations July 14 - the first foreign head of government to be accorded such an honour.

He is the first foreign leader to be chief guest at the Bastille Day parade, French envoy Jerome Bonnafont told reporters here Friday.

German President Horst Koehler and Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, who will be in France on a bilateral visit, will also attend the colourful parade in which 400 Indian airmen will also participate.

In the past, several foreign leaders have attended the Bastille Day parade, but the Indian prime minister is the only one to be made chief guest, the envoy said.

The honour reciprocates India's gesture of inviting French President Nicolas Sarkozy as the guest of honour at the Republic Day parade. "It is a symbol of close cooperation between India and France," the envoy said.

"The participation of Indian armed forces in the parade is an occasion to commemorate Indian soldiers' participation on our sides and in our territory during the two world wars," the envoy said.

Mr. Sarkozy will host a working lunch for Mr. Manmohan Singh July 14 and hold talks on a range of bilateral and global issues, including terrorism, civil nuclear trade, climate change, defence ties and the global financial crisis.

Ahead of the visit, the French envoy on Thursday came out strongly in support of India's call for reform of the United Nations and backed India for a permanent seat in the Security Council.

As Mr. Manmohan Singh goes to Paris, French nuclear conglomerate Areva is discussing with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) the preparation of a contract for two advanced EPR nuclear reactors of 1,650 MW each. The reactors will be set up in Jaitapur in Maharashtra. The negotiations on issues relating to the contract, including the crucial civil liabilities in case of an accident, are in advanced stage, diplomatic sources said.

The bilateral nuclear cooperation pact, that was inked during Mr. Manmohan Singh's visit to Paris September 30 last year making France the first country to sign such an agreement, has already reached the Senate, upper chamber of the French parliament.

France has also indicated that it's ready to re-process spent fuel at a facility in its territory if India requested for it.

Interventions needed in Cambodia to reduce HIV transmission from wealthier urban men to their wives

Roger Pebody
Friday, July 10, 2009

A household survey in Cambodia found an HIV prevalence of 0.6%, and also found that infection was more common in urban areas and in wealthier households, researchers report in the July 17th edition of AIDS. A number of the findings support the hypothesis that the majority of infections in men are related to buying sex and that most women are infected by their husbands.

Previous monitoring of the HIV epidemic in Cambodia relied on surveys in specific groups, and suggested that prevalence was as high as 24% in injecting drug users, 21% in brothel-based sex workers, 5% in men who have sex with men, 2.5% in policemen, and 2.2% in pregnant women. These surveys did suggest that prevalence had been declining since 1998, but given weaknesses in the methodology, there was an urgent need to validate the estimates of the prevalence in the general population with a different approach.

The Cambodia Demography and Health Survey recruited a national representative sample of people aged 15 to 49 years from all parts of the country. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 6514 men and 8188 women. (More women than men were interviewed in order to collect more reliable data on other topics such as fertility and infant mortality.)

Interviewees also gave fingerprick blood samples for HIV antibody testing. They did not receive their test results, but were given information about free local HIV testing services.

HIV prevalence in the general population was lower than expected, at 0.6% for both men and women. However it was considerably higher in urban areas than in rural areas: 1.6% in urban men, but 0.4% in rural men, with similar figures for women. (Approximately 15% of the Cambodian population lives in urban areas.)

HIV infection was largely limited to people who were married or had previously been married. Even adjusting for age, the highest rates were in people who were divorced, separated or widowed (women in this group were 23 times more likely to be HIV-positive than single women). Moreover, because women tended to marry younger than men, infection was more common in women under the age of 29 than in men of the same age group.

Thirty per cent of women were at least five years younger than their spouses, and HIV prevalence depended on the age gap. Women who were at least ten years younger than their spouse were five times as likely to have HIV as women whose spouse was the same age.

While 0.3% of sexually active women reported having more than one partner in the past year, 17% of urban men and 8% of rural men did so. Around two-thirds of these men’s partners were sex workers. Men with multiple partners were four times as likely to have HIV as men who only had one partner.

Both men and women who scored high on a wealth index were more likely to have HIV than poorer people, with the relationship being strongest for men. Moreover, in urban areas, men with some education had higher HIV prevalence than those with no schooling, but the opposite relationship was seen for women.

The authors note that some other studies have identified links between HIV and wealth, rather than poverty. However they argue that the relationship can differ by sex. In Cambodia, the HIV epidemic is largely driven by sex work and male clients, and the survey confirmed that paid and extramarital sex are more common in men with higher socio-economic status. However, HIV in wealthier women is likely to be linked to the behaviour of husbands rather than women themselves.

Nonetheless, the authors do also suggest that educated women may have greater independence, economic power and ability to negotiate with their partners.

For at least ten years, prevention activities in Cambodia have intensively targeted sex workers and their clients with a focus on 100% condom use and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. The authors believe these programmes should be sustained, but call for additional interventions to reduce HIV transmission from husbands to wives. “Efforts to empower women for better access to information, education and care seem critically important,” they suggest.


Sopheab H et al. Distribution of HIV in Cambodia: findings from the first national population survey. AIDS 23:1389-1395, 2009.

Editor Apologizes to Hun Sen for Stories

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
10 July 2009

An opposition editor accused of publishing inciting articles apologized to the prime minister on Thursday, vowing to discontinue publication of his newspaper in a bid to avoid court and possible imprisonment.

“I understand my serious mistakes and have regret and very much remorse in my life,” Dam Sith, editor of Moneasekar Khmer, wrote in a letter to Hun Sen.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has subpoenaed Dam Sith to appear in court July 14, “to answer charges by the government over defamation, insult, disinformation, incitement and the breakup of solidarity.”

In his letter, Dam Sith swore to discontinue publication of his newspaper.

“I will not publish Moneaksekar Khmer newspaper on receiving forgiveness from Samdech Akkak Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen,” Dam Sith wrote, using the full title of the prime minister and asking for help in being freed from charges in the court. “I would like to promise to support the win-win policy of [Hun Sen] in the construction of the nation toward progress.”

Long Dara, a government lawyer, said Dam Sith published 18 articles between February and May 2009 attacking government officials without fact. But he said the prime minister would now withdraw the case against him, having received the letter of apology.

“Samdech approved of the apology letter,” Long Dara said. “We have written to pull the lawsuit out of court.”

Dam Sith was jailed for two weeks in 2008 for publishing remarks by opposition leader Sam Rainsy that implicated Foreign Minister Hor Namhong in Khmer Rouge collaboration. He was freed when Hor Namhong dropped the suit against him.

His apology comes after another opposition journalist, Hang Chakra, received a yearlong prison sentence and $2,250 fine for articles he published in his Khmer Machach Srok newspaper, attacking senior officials for corruption.

Prior to that arrest, the National Assembly voted to strip the immunity of two Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers, Mu Sochua and Ho Vann, who are fighting defamation cases brought by Hun Sen and 22 senior military leaders, respectively.

Key Sectors Challenged by Downturn: UNDP

By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
10 July 2009

The world economic crisis is having a direct impact on four of Cambodia’s key economic drivers, which will need to become more competitive, according to a report released by UNDP this month.

Agriculture, construction, garments and tourism each face challenges from the economic downturn, and “Cambodia now needs to consolidate its progress, nurture its potential and sustain its growth,” the UNDP said in its report, “Cambodia Country Competitiveness: Driving Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction.”

“It is a unique opportunity right now,” Douglas Broaderick, the UNDP’s chief representative, told VOA Khmer. “Cambodia needs to get some of the things done that could set-up Cambodia to be stronger economically and to be able to help people in a much better way, in terms of competitiveness linked to economic growth.”

The agricultural sector, which generates a third of Cambodia’s GDP and employs more than half its workforce of 8 million people, suffers from low education in the rural work force, limited access to financing, poor roads and irrigation and limited market access, the report said.

The UNDP recommended the development of rural non-farm economies, such as roads, rural electrification, education and financial training, as well as better coordination between suppliers and manufacturers.

And while the cost of labor is a main motive for garment manufacturers to come into Cambodia, productivity remains lower than neighboring countries, the report said, citing as an example productivity that is three times lower than in Thailand.

The UNDP also recommended that the government re-examine its investment laws, to improve the manufacturing of textiles and garments, which comprised 12 percent of the GDP in 2007 and employed more than 360,000 people.

The sector lost 51,000 jobs between September 2008 and March 2009, as a global economic crisis, kindled by a US financial meltdown, spread. Around 70 factories have closed in that time.

The UNDP recommended training workers to begin producing goods higher in value, and to improve industrial relations.

Meanwhile, competitiveness in the tourism sector remains poor, ranking 112th of 130 countries at a recent World Economic Forum, due in part to high energy costs and expensive flights, as well as limited infrastructure and costs associated with corruption, the UNDP said.

Human resources in the sector remain low, and an uneven application of policies and rules plagues the sector.

“Rich cultural assets, such as Angkor Wat, give Cambodia a competitive advantage, but reliance on Angkor Wat as the primary tourist attraction cannot be sustained,” the report said.

The UNDP recommened relaxing tourist visa restrictions, exploring open sky policies and reducing the costs and improving the quality of tourism products.

In the construction sector, Cambodia has enjoyed an increase in both scale and value of projects, including high-rise apartment and office buildings currently under construction.

The country has the lowest wages for construction workers in Southeast Asia, but productivity is relatively low and there are shortages of labor to meet demands and of skilled workers, the report said.

Engineers and architects are overwhelmingly foreign, while electricians, welders, carpenters and other skilled workers are in short supply.

Added to these difficulties is the complicated constrution law, which means it takes an average 710 days for approval of construction permits—compared to 200 days in Vietnam and 150 days in Thailand.

Companies say they resort to paying bribes in order to shorten the time frame.

“The highly bureaucratic regulation of licensing in the construction sector may reduce its competitiveness,” the report said.

Cambodia is at the bottom 10 percent of countries in the World Bank’s corruption index, leading to a dearth of investment from the world’s largest industrialized countries, whose own national laws forbid participation in corrupt practices.

The UNDP recommended investments in vocational training, improvements to permit procedures and the strengthening and enforcement of building standards.

With the four key sectors flagging, costs remain high in information and communication technology, discouraging further investment.

Overall, the UNDP recommended putting more resources into education, as Cambodia lags behind its Southeast Asian neighbors, ranking lowest in the region.

Cheam Yiep, a Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker and head of the National Assembly’s finance commitee, said the UNDP’s analysis was “just partly true,” but he did not elaborate.

Still, the goverment will take the report’s findings under consideration, he said.

Duch Prison Survivor Describes Suicide Attempts

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
10 July 2009

A survivor of one of Duch’s Khmer Rouge prisons told the UN-backed tribunal Thursday she had often considered suicide during her incarceration, but in the end found no means by which to end her life.

Chim Meth, a 51-year-old former Khmer Rouge soldier who was detained in Prey Sar prison, one of three facilities operated by Duch, said on her second day of testimony she had discussed killing herself with friends in the prison and even tried to poison herself on one occasion.

“I could not resist the torture done to me, so I wanted to commit suicide,” she said. “I heard that the bark of a tree could gently kill a person, so I cut the bark and put it in water and drank it, but unfortunately I did not die.”

Duch, 66, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, is undergoing an atrocity crimes trial at the tribunal court, for his role as administrator of Prey Sar, torture center Tuol Sleng and the execution site of Choeung Ek, on the outskirts of the capital.

Chim Meth, who was beaten during 15 days of questioning, continued to find ways to end her life, but the prison was bare of such implements.

“I looked for anything in jail to kill myself, but I couldn’t find anything, because prison security never kept anything in the jail, such as a stick or krama,” she said. “One day I abandoned my goal to commit suicide, because there was one woman who told me that our lives are valuable and we should try to live for the future.”

Under the Khmer Rouge, more than 2 million people died from overwork, privation and execution, as the ultra-Maoist rebels exacted an overhaul of Cambodian society.

Chim Meth appealed to the court to find justice for her parents and others who died under the regime.

Given a chance to respond to the testimony, Duch said he would not address remarks of a psychological nature. He was in court to respond to crimes under the rule of law, he said.

Despite Woes, Tribunal Seen Helping Justice System

By VOA Khmer, Sothearith Im
Original report from Washington
10 July 2009

Allegations of corruption aside, experts say the Khmer Rouge tribunal will help set a standard for Cambodia’s common justice system, while setting an example for international courts in the future.

Cambodia’s judicial system is widely seen as politically biased and corrupt, but as the UN-backed tribunal continues to try former leaders of the regime, it can serve as a model to the everyday courts and police.

“The tribunal has an impact beyond its own life,” said Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch and the International Association of Genocide Scholars. “In other words, the judges who are Cambodian judges who are part of it will carry the experience into the future.”

The hybrid tribunal consists of UN- and nationally appointed staffs in the offices of prosecution and investigation and the Pre-Trial and Trial chambers of the court.

The so-called jurists have not seen eye-to-eye on every issue, and the prosecution office will lose its top UN jurist, Robert Petit, whose proposal to indict more leaders of the regime has met resistance from his Cambodian counterpart, Chea Leang.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal has also been dogged by allegations of mismanagement and corruption, and from Cambodian staff members who say they have had to pay kickbacks to senior government officials for their jobs.

In some way, however, the tribunal will create “a very good precedent” for future courts, Stanton told VOA Khmer in a recent interview.

“The trouble with international tribunals is they leave no legacy, whereas with a mixed tribunal like this one, it leaves a legacy in the country,” he said.

Alex Hinton​​​​ is director of center for the Studies of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University. An expert on Khmer Rouge atrocities, he has been closely watching the tribunal.

One of the most important aspects of the tribunal is its structure and the way it applies international law, which will be watched by many different observers, Hinton said in an interview.

“I’ve talked to judges who say this, [that] watching, sort of, how the international system works, how the rule of law is applied according to international standards, is something that, hopefully, will be a legacy, that judges who are involved in this, people who are involved in this, [and] law school students who are attending the trial will watch how this works, and that will have a long term impact,” he said.

In conceiving of a hybrid system that also allows the participation of civil parties—victims of the regime who can file suit alongside criminal proceedings— the Cambodian tribunal could be emulated by other courts, he said.

“The court, in terms of civil party rights and civil party presence, that’s another area where it’s really cutting-edge, in terms of making the international law where the civil parties are in the court room been represented, sitting alongside with prosecution,” Hinton said. “Never before have they had rights like they are having with this tribunal.”

Youk Chhang, director of Documentation Center of Cambodia, has similar views.

The tribunal has four noteworthy characteristics, he said: it is being undertaken with participation of people in the country were atrocity crimes were committed, provides international justice with a lower price tag, has made the arrest of suspects easier, and has witnesses and evidence close at hand.

“This court is special, as it is a foundation for a country that suffered from genocide to establish the rule of law, to reconcile, to teach students about the genocide, to create dialogue, and to encourage freedom of expression,” he said. “The court provides a higher standard of justice for the current Cambodian courts to follow.”

The tribunal will also leave materials, tools and resources as its legacy, which will help strengthen Cambodia’s own judicial system in the future, he said.

Mong Mony Chakriya, a Supreme Court judge with extensive experience in Cambodia’s system, said he hoped the tribunal would benefit Cambodia a great deal, beyond the prosecution of Khmer Rouge leaders.

“The establishment of [the tribunal] benefits our justice system,” he said. “In our society, people get justice, and those who work with international experts receive good experience in establishing our court system and our legal system in the future.”

Hun Sen Leaves for Official French Visit

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
10 July 2009

Prime Minister Hun Sen left for France on Thursday, to participate in a five-day official visit at the invitation of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

This is the first visit of the prime minister to France under his third mandate, following elections in July 2008, and is meant “to strengthen bilateral cooperation,” according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong.

Hun Sen will also meet his French counterpart, Francois Fillon, and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Koy Kuong said.

Hun Sen said in public remarks ahead of his departure he would meet with Sarkozy on July 13 and participate in France’s National Day, or Bastille Day, July 14.

He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

France is one of the most important donors to Cambodia, contributing around $25 million annually in aid.

Laurant Le Marchand, first secretary of French Embassy, said France assists especially in judicial reform, the rule of law, gendarmerie training and continued support for the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

CAMBODIA: "Floating toilets" offer hope for river communities

10 Jul 2009

Source: IRIN

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PHNOM PENH, 10 July 2009 (IRIN) - A toilet now in the development stage could improve the health of thousands living in Cambodia's impoverished river communities.

River communities' homes are typically built on floating platforms and moved seasonally, and rarely have proper latrines. Occupants use the river – the same water they use for drinking, cooking and washing.

The health risks are high: according to Resource Development International–Cambodia [see:] , a faith-based NGO, 74 percent of all deaths are due to waterborne diseases, including diarrhoea.

Cambodia has one of the highest infant and under-five mortality rates in the region, at 97 and 141 per 1,000 live births, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports.

Many rural Cambodians see latrines as filthy, preferring open defecation as being more natural.

"It's not a poverty issue. Some wealthy people in the countryside don't have good sanitation, and some poor families do have it," Chea Samnan, director of rural healthcare for the Ministry of Rural Development, said. "It's an issue of access to the right information."

As part of its "River of Life" profect, Lien Aid [see:] , a Singaporean-based NGO, is working on what it describes as a "floating toilet". The toilets - built on floating platforms and attached to homes – will effectively prevent faeces from entering the water.

"We are still in the preliminary stages of testing out the prototypes," Sahari Ani, Lien Aid's head, told IRIN.

Eco-sanitation design

The device has three components - a superstructure, a urine diversion pan, and a space for a removable bucket or container for waste material.

Central to the design is the pan itself, effectively separating urine from faeces. A separate section of the pan allows for anal washing.

Materials such as dry soil, ash and wood chips can be added to excreta, thereby reducing odour and pathogens, while cutting the volume of waste.

The semi-decomposed faeces is then treated at a secondary storage chamber for complete decomposition and pathogen destruction, while the nutrient-heavy urine could be used as fertilizer after removal.

Commenting on the merits of the pan, Judy Hagan, project manager of a different operator, the Tonle Sap Floating Latrine Design Project, said separating the two waste materials reduced the bulk and mass of the faeces that needed to be treated, making it more viable in a floating environment.

Key challenges

But introducing such concepts in a country like Cambodia will not be easy.

As floating river communities exist only in Cambodia and a handful of other Asian nations, latrines designed specifically for their needs are rare and expensive.

Added to this is the country's lack of qualified engineers, poor sanitation infrastructure and low level of hygiene awareness.

"The more difficult challenge is to help the community build up the human resources necessary to make the venture financially sustainable over the long term," Sahari Ani said.

According to the World Bank, only 16 percent of rural Cambodians have a proper toilet, the lowest level in Southeast Asia.

Moreover, despite the country's abundant freshwater rivers and lakes, 60 percent of its population do not have access to safe water and 85 percent are without adequate sanitation, Lien Aid stated.

Cost effectiveness

While an exact price for the device is still being determined, the NGO hopes costs can be kept to a minimum, with families possibly purchasing building material in bulk to keep down costs.

One-third of Cambodians live on less than US$0.50 a day, according to government statistics, making cost a significant factor.

"We will still try to keep costs down by exploring the use of [local] materials and by encouraging local entrepreneurs to manufacture the required parts," Lien Aid's head explained.

Although fairly new, villagers in Cambodia have already been learning how to construct cheaper latrines for as little as $15 each from the community-led total sanitation programme, started in 2005 by UNICEF and Cambodia's Ministry of Rural Development.

And while not of the floating toilet type, the self-built, cost-effective latrines could provide further impetus to the floating toilet prototype once their use becomes more widespread.