In the decade of Cambodia's civil war, time has begun to heal the wounds inflicted by the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. The economy has perked up–annual GDP growth is now more than 10%. Foreign aid is flowing, with over $500 million earmarked for development projects each year. However, the centerpiece of this aid, the United Nations-backed Khmer Rouge war-crimes tribunal, is still barely out of the starting blocks.
Convicting Khmer Rouge leaders of crimes against humanity would seem like a no-brainer. But then consider that Prime Minister Hun Sen himself was once a regional leader of the Maoist party, and had to make countless compromises with his former comrades in order to bring them into the government fold. The tortuous agreement signed between the U.N. and Hun Sen's government in 2003 laid the groundwork for a hybrid court system, but the Cambodian side insisted on strictly limiting the power of the foreign judges.
A lot has come to rest on the tribunal. It's convenient to make it out as a savior of sorts: An example for Cambodia's notoriously corrupt judicial system; a ray of hope for those who suffered under the Khmer Rouge; a powerful message that even government leaders don't have impunity. Fifty million dollars from more than 20 countries has poured into the tribunal's coffers so far, and much more is on the way.
The tribunal certainly has the potential to be a force for positive change in Cambodia, but whether it will realize that potential remains to be seen. The arrest of five senior leaders last fall and the beginning of hearings in November convinced many who thought that the trial would never happen. But jailings alone won't make the trials a success.
The structural flaws that have become apparent since the tribunal was established could jeopardize the court's real usefulness. Thanks to a combination of funding mismanagement, allegations of corruption, and donors who are a bit too trusting, the tribunal still runs the risk of becoming a farce, should events get out of hand.
First off, the very compromises that helped create the court have impaired its progress. The responsibilities of the court are split between the U.N. and the Cambodian government, which provides fertile ground for miscommunication and delays. At time of writing the official courtroom still wasn't ready for hearings, although pretrial hearings (in a different courtroom) began Nov. 20.
The translation team for the trilingual court (Khmer, English and French) is already backed up by months, unable to handle the 300,000 pages of documents that judges need to sift through. The witness-protection team, which had somehow been left out of the initial budget for the court, has only a skeleton staff and still lacks a director.
At Cambodia's insistence, a majority of judges in each chamber is Cambodian, but no decision can be passed unless at least one foreign judge agrees. This system, and the power it hands to Cambodia's famously corrupt judicial system, caused several nations, including the United States, to decline funding for the tribunal. The small handful of hearings held thus far haven't yielded any signs of judicial interference, but given the track record of the rest of Cambodia's judiciary, it can't be ruled out.
The credibility of the court has already been undermined by questions about the oversight of funding for the Cambodian side of the court. The U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs helped recruit funding for the Cambodian side of the tribunal, and this funding is overseen by the United Nations Development Program. UNDP's oversight, however, has been less than thorough. An audit initiated by UNDP and conducted in spring 2006 by the U.N. Office of Audit and Performance Review and an external auditor found that the Cambodian side of the court had hired underqualified staff, was paying inflated salaries, and added 52 staff positions without justification. UNDP's response was to bury the report and refuse media inquiries.
Even more serious are allegations of kickbacks raised by the Open Society Justice Initiative in an October 2006 report. In Cambodia it has been traditional practice for civil servants to buy their positions in government, one Western diplomat explained to me. When the current government came to power, the practice didn't disappear–it was merely systematized. Multiple sources said they had heard reports that some court staff were required to pay 20% to 30% of their salary to their higher-ups in order to keep their jobs. To date, however, no staff member has made a formal complaint.
If true, these allegations are the most serious threat yet to the tribunal's mission. Rather than setting an example of justice for the country, the tribunal may be reinforcing the worst habits of Cambodia's justice system.
Many members of the international community seem to believe that any corruption present is limited, and won't interfere with the judicial process. But that view implies a very narrow view of the tribunal's purpose. U.S. Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli put it this way: "We believe the judicial process is proceeding much better than people a year ago would have ever have guessed. Although there were some bumps in the road, it is now clear that either international standards will be met, or, at a bare minimum, the international judges will walk out." In his eyes, that safeguard is enough to ensure that the tribunal isn't a farce.
The corruption allegations are high on the radar of the Cambodian officials involved, as well. The man overseeing the tribunal and responsible for rooting out corruption (or perpetrating it, depending on whom you talk to), is Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. He is Hun Sen's right-hand guy, and the second-most powerful man in the country. Sok An has been involved with the tribunal practically since its inception, and took a leading role in the negotiations with the U.N. that stretched from 1999 to 2003.
In person Sok An is soft-spoken and gentle. His hair is elaborately coiffed, and his glasses and double chin give him a bookish air. When asked how the tribunal is going, he begins by explaining that it has actually set three world records for an international tribunal–for the fastest approval of internal rules (just under a year); the fastest arrests (five people so far); and the smallest budget. He grows most animated when discussing his vision of the Cambodian tribunal as a pioneering model that other courts will someday follow. "We have a different model, but the world is looking for a better model," he says, gesticulating excitedly. "It is a new model."
His own belief in the importance of the tribunal is perhaps the most reassuring part of our conversation–when it comes to corruption, his words are less convincing. "In every country you have corruption," he begins, "but what is important is our attitude towards corruption." He says that fighting corruption at the tribunal is paramount, because the tribunal serves as an example for the entire Cambodian justice system.
Sok An concludes, "Corruption is not a real problem within the office of administration," referring to the Cambodian side of the tribunal responsible for court administration. But he never flatly denies that corruption might be happening. Neither does Sean Visoth, the director of the office of administration. "We cannot say 'corruption free,'" he says, referring to the court. "We cannot compare it to Hong Kong or Singapore. But we have done everything possible to minimize the risk of corruption."
Sean Visoth explains the steps his office has taken to address the allegations, including putting up suggestion boxes in secluded locations for added privacy, and requiring staff to sign a code of conduct that prohibits taking bribes. Oddly, the code does not prohibit giving bribes, however. He says that if someone came forward with a complaint related to kickbacks, "To have an investigation wouldn't be a big deal."
While these anticorruption efforts are a little underwhelming, the fact that government officials spend so much time talking about them indicates how seriously they take international media's perception of the tribunal. There's a reason for this: Cambodia's ruling party, the Cambodian People's Party, has built its political platform around its opposition to the Khmer Rouge regime. The break isn't as clean as it seems, though, and former Khmer Rouge leaders remain deeply enmeshed in the current government. The arrest of the powerful Ieng Sary last year was seen as a sign that none would be spared in the war-crimes tribunal. But more difficult tests will be ahead. The King Father, Norodom Sihanouk, worked with Khmer Rouge leaders during their rule, and might be called upon to present testimony during the tribunal.
International donors have a large role to play in keeping the tribunal alive and on track, and it should be donor pressure–rather than the moral backbone of the judges or anonymous complaint boxes–that ensures the integrity of the court. The U.N. is planning a major fundraising drive that will likely include one new target: the U.S., which is now reconsidering its earlier decision not to fund the tribunal. The U.N. will be asking for a pretty penny–they are likely to double the court's original budget estimate of $63 million. But there are no signs yet that donors will seize this opportunity to enforce new and better practices–such as a full investigation into the allegations of kickbacks that have dogged the office of administration.
The real measure of success will be the extent to which it can bring a sense of closure to Cambodian people. And surprisingly, the tribunal may already be doing that. "When we started [documentation work] in 1995, it was so hard to get people to talk about the Khmer Rouge," says Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia. "But people now speak about this so openly. Freedom has been given to the victims."
Organizations like the Documentation Center of Cambodia have played a large role in getting victims involved. The center has interviewed 5,000 victims of Pol Pot's genocide to record their experiences, and identified hundreds who are willing to be a civil party to the war-crimes trials. Each month the center buses in around 500 people from remote areas to visit the tribunal and learn about Pol Pot's regime. Less educated Cambodians often have little knowledge of events under the Khmer Rouge and have trouble believing their own countrymen were responsible for the genocide. That history is so sensitive it wasn't covered in national curricula until a few years ago, and most Cambodians alive today weren't around to witness the atrocities–over half of Cambodia's population is under 21 years old.
The history of the Khmer Rouge is still palpable in Cambodia not just because of its psychological impact, but also because of its economic impact. Although Cambodia's economy now is humming along, the country's infrastructure remains in tatters thanks to the decades of war. Annual GDP per capita (adjusted for purchasing power parity) is a meager $2,800.
In a perverse way, this legacy of destruction has made the job of the current government a bit easier. Prime Minister Hun Sen came to power after helping overthrow Pol Pot's regime, and his Cambodian People's Party still draws much of its legitimacy from its record of opposition to the Khmer Rouge. The tribunal further reinforces this narrative, helping Hun Sen and his colleagues differentiate themselves from the genocidal Khmer Rouge leaders.
But once this history is laid to rest, the Cambodian People's Party will be forced to find other issues on which it can deliver to voters. As the leaders of the Khmer Rouge are brought to justice and as fewer and fewer Cambodians remember the Khmer Rouge era, the CPP's record of opposing the Khmer Rouge will become less relevant than its ability to root out corruption and deliver economic growth. Cambodia's young democracy is still fragile, and the CPP so dominates every aspect of government that free and fair elections are virtually impossible. But in the post-tribunal era, perhaps that's something that voting citizens will begin to take action on.
This would be the best possible outcome for the tribunal: Not just putting a handful of elderly murderers behind bars, but enabling the nation to take one step further on the road to recovery from Pol Pot's regime. Whether or not that happens depends on whether the trial can gain real legitimacy.
A Swedish woman Monday offered a $10,000 reward (about 310,000 baht) for anyone in Thailand or Cambodia who can tip off police to the whereabouts of her 6-year-old daughter, allegedly abducted by her own father last year.
Maria Elfversson, 35, from Gothenburg, Sweden, announced the reward for the return of her daughter, Alicia, at a press conference in Bangkok in the hopes that her story would be publicised in the local press.
"Neither the police nor authorities have been able to find out which country he has taken her to. I therefore want to make this plea for help," said Elfversson.
She claimed that her former husband, Norwegian national Torgeir Nordbo, 47, abducted their daughter on June 4, 2007 and took her to either Thailand or Cambodia, where he owns property.
She said Alicia was last seen last month, in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
Although Nordbo has been charged with abduction in Sweden, and is wanted by Interpol, it is not a crime for a father to abduct his own children in Cambodia.
"The hope is that we can get Alicia back through the Hague Convention and the international police will be able to find her," Elfversson told a press conference. (dpa)
by Davin Mao, Special to The Oregonian Monday March 17, 2008
A s a junior at Sunset High School, my life didn't consist of much more than homework, homework and more homework. With one exception: I was an active member in the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon (CACO), serving as the group's youth president.
When the opportunity came for me to spend 15 days in Cambodia with Medical Teams International earlier this year, I saw it as a reprieve from the monotony of high school life. Little did I know that it would prove to be a life-changing experience.
The humanitarians of Medical Teams International, led by Dr. Dale Canfield, traveled at their own expense to Cambodia to offer their dental services to orphans, many of whom have never received dental care in their lives. I went with them, one of two ordinary high school students with extraordinary dreams of aiding people in their ancestral land.
CACO has a project called BOBism, which extends compassion "Beyond Ordinary Borders" to Cambodia. We raised more than $700 for BOBism, $200 approved by the CACO board and the rest from community contributions.
That money would eventually purchase 200 Hacky Sacks, 12 badminton sets, 15 soccer balls, a curry dinner and much more. These items may be ordinary novelties to us, but to the Cambodian children they were luxuries otherwise beyond reach.
As a high school student traveling with seasoned medical professionals, I expected to be in the way, but under the expert guidance of Canfield and the rest of the team, I was soon able to assimilate the procedures of a crude yet effective dental clinic. By the end of the experience, I felt more at home in the assistant's chair than any other.
Traveling to Cambodia to help orphans would have been gratifying to many. But for a Cambodian American teen who has never seen the hardships of Cambodian life, it was an epiphany. It has given me not only a sense of identity, but also a steadfast motivation to extend the luxuries I enjoy every day to parts of the world that lack even the basic necessities.
My thanks go out to Medical Teams International, Foursquare Children of Promise in Cambodia, Canfield and his medical team, and the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon. All of them played a vital role in bringing care to the more than 200 patients we treated. Last but not least, my thanks to my parents for making it possible for me to be on this trip.
The final message I wish to extend to all youths, or even adults, who read this is: You can do more than you think you can. I know I did. Changing the life of another is a life-changing opportunity in itself, so seize every opportunity as it arises.
Davin Mao is a Sunset High School junior. He is working with Medical Teams International to promote the Invisible Children movement and increase awareness at his school about the injustices that are taking place in Uganda.
HIPLIFE MUSICIAN, Cambodia, known in real life as Kweku Boadi is set to take the music industry to a bang with the release of his second album titled, ‘Odja Tanaa’.
Cambodia first released his first project in 2000 title ‘Moja shie’ but could not attract the necessary attention because it did not receive massive airplay.
Currently he is in the studio working tirelessly on the next album. In an interview with Beatwaves, Cambodia said he believed that the current project would make a break-through this time and cause a stir in the industry since it was well-stuffed with fine tunes and lyrics.
The eight track album, he said, has pulsating songs such as ‘Abrabo’, ‘Toy’, ‘Rockly’, ‘Mr. Otua me tua aboka’, ‘Tokoro’ ‘Abogwi’ and two other tracks including the title track ‘Odja Tanaa’.
Most of the songs on the album were recorded by the Hollad Park studio in Accra.
“Messages on most of the songs touch on love and life in general.
Wait till it hit the airwaves in no time from now”, Cambodia stressed.
The musician hails from Akyim Apenwa in the Eastern Region. He entered the music industry in 1990 and ‘Odja Tanaa’ is his second album.
A visit to the pagoda of Wat Eisey Patamak and Phnom Svay just a kilometre or two from the town center of Ban Lung, will give you some gorgeous views across the green and verdant hills of Ratanakiri, in northeast Cambodia. It was the final stop on our trip out to Lumphat and a nice way to end the day. The five metre in length reclining Buddha, a replacement for one destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, at the top of the hill was the playground of some youngsters and the paintings above the Buddha looked old and worn but were actually dated from 1993. The head monk at the pagoda - also known as Wat Aran - which was undergoing some repairs, spoke excellent English and was remarkably young at 28 years old to be a head monk.
TOKYO, March 17 (Reuters Life!) - Cambodian entertainment watchdogs have blacklisted three songs, arguing that they could encourage women to pursue other women's husbands, a Japanese news agency reported on Monday.
The Khmer Arts Association and the Cambodian Television Association said the songs -- "If I Can't be Your First Wife, Can I be Your Second?", "I Love Another's Husband" and "May I Have a Piece of Your Heart?" -- were demeaning to women, Kyodo news agency said in a dispatch.
"The songs are meant to put down women and their dignity," Kyodo quoted Ieng Sithol, president of the Khmer Arts Association, as saying. "As lovers of the arts, artists should act properly or we will be criticized by the public."
Artists are banned from singing the songs at concerts, on radio or television. Kyodo said the decision had upset some fans who felt that it unfairly targeted female singers.
Similar songs sung by men, such as "How beautiful! Whose Wife is She?" and "Even If She is Someone Else's Wife, That's OK" can still be performed freely.
(Reporting by Sophie Hardach; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
As the Pond family sits around the dining room table playing trivial pursuit, they appear to be the typical American family. They’re not. Anything that was typical changed forever after watching a Dateline NBC investigation 4 years ago. The story about Cambodian children being sold to sex peddlers touched the family so deeply, this father of three quit his six figure sales job and traveled to Cambodia to see what could be done to help.
“We were seeing pedophiles walking up and down the riverfront purchasing kids, said James Pond. Pond knew he could make a difference, but only if his family wanted the same thing. His wife Athena said, “We were trying to teach our kids you can do more in life and we should all be helping others, but we really didn’t have an outlet for that before this.” It was a unanimous vote so the Ponds sold nearly everything they owned and moved to Cambodia to open a transitional housing center for girls rescued from brothels. 14 year old Srey Neth was sold by her mother for 300 dollars.
“Her virginity was sold a week later for the same 300 dollars she was sold for after that she was forced into a brothel where she saw 10 to 20 men a day, said James Pond. Neth was rescued. After 2 years with the pond family, she's now working for their Oregon based charity called Transitions Cambodia.
“She's not just our voice she's the voice of every girl that’s ever been through something like this,” said Pond.
Transitions Cambodia now provides shelter, support and vocational training to about 20 rescued girls each year.
The Ponds run the charity from their Hillsboro home. They have a staff of ten running the program in Cambodia. They recently moved back to the US to raise awareness about the child sex issue. They hope that will lead to more financial support which will enable them to open even more shelters in Cambodia and other countries around the world.
They said what started out as an idea after watching Dateline NBC has turned into a lifetime commitment. They hope to create awareness on a large scale starting in Portland and spreading all across America.
By Kok Sap March 16, 2008 http://neokhmer.wordpress.com http://khmerology.Blogspot.com
To some may be surprised to learn in rural areas where most inhabitants are abused and infringed upon can’t even afford a radio. This is how isolated for most of poor and real land owners in receiving news and information. Folks had no way of knowing the fact and how the world sees Cambodia leadership. To raise another pecking order in abuses, most poor lived on their land for so many years but had no means to bribe their way to get legal land title due to “tek ea” culture in Cambodia bureaucracy. This culture is well and looming over Hun Sen false power.
Worst, some had lived and bore so many generational off springs, yet never knew what‘s the legal marriage license look like. Millions were born without legal census document not to say in the hospital comfort. This piece of document is a very fundamental right that many come to know as the birth certificate. A lot of children must have proof of birth certificate and domicile in order to attend high school. For some parents, this is the dilemma which they can’t afford thus the child opted to stay and work the parents land that possessed no legal title. In this example Hun Sen, himself, can attest to it.
Traditionally in Cambodia farming, high percentage of folks used animals aiding their works. A lot of times, many had raised and owned including some inherent working animals. However most can’t afford certificate of ownership. The practice has been carrying on for years but yet the government cared, it shall provide proper legality and protection to the citizens.
In a nut shell, the poor suffer human rights abuses for ages. They were left to be unprotected, underserviced, and undefended in a so called constitutional equality equation since their birth. Imagine, you were born to parents of no legal marriage license living on land of no title and had no legal census record for schooling requirements then owned animals of no legal ownership certificate. The poor is in a lose-lose setting from the start. Yet the government boasted Cambodia economy is bursting with a whopping GNI $1.00 a day bracket?
This is a monumental abuse that Cambodia needed to be corrected. No surprise for those who are familiar with rural life then and now. During the 50’s, 60’s, majority of high school students were immigrant children of Chin, Yuon, Siam ,Lao, whose parents paid and bought birth certificate from poor Khmers who posed as parents in providing last names and domicile in order for the immigrant children to be qualified for and received public education from government. Not a surprise so many high officials under Hun Sen government are kin to immigrants who arbitrarily close offices to honor their Chin-Yuon New Year celebration. This is a living testimonial as we can see all the way from Ministries to Parliament occupied by the majority of 50’s,60’s immigrant children. Cambodia government is facing identity problem.
To prove the point, look at Keat Chhon, Hoa Nam Vang (Hong), Soc Anh, Chan Sarun, Lu Lay Sreng, Cham Prasith, Khieu big mouth, Hoc Lon Di and nemesis Heng Pov, Ing Kanthaphavy, Kim Tran, Chia Leang, Cheam Yiep and some other PhDs face. They are the living generation of buying Khmer birth certificates and privilege to attain educational endeavor at the poor expenses. Since their origins are borne in opportunism and exploitation heritage, why do they care to do otherwise for the poor? So few Khmers like Hun Sen, Chea Sim , Sar Kheng, Heng Samrin and Ke Kim Yan are serving them well and honorably.
Hun Sen insolent behavior and egregious intent to bar Professor Yash Ghai from entering Cambodia to perform his UN duty is the embarrassment for all. Also it proves the abuses are beyond words and there was nothing Hun Sen could do. Let this be reminded Cambodia belongs to people. Also that it is Cambodia as a country, is a recognized member of UN. So Hun Sen should note, UN has not done with all the killers who still roam and live happily under his protection. He shall be also reminded he is not that indispensible. Soon he sees his turn in near horizon.
For the records, Hun Sen could have made a true statesman out of himself if he lets no emotion influenced by hatred and foreign domineering. He has forgotten Bo Doi Hoa Nam Hoang was once an abusive character too. All his tenure, Hoa Nam Vang has done no better for all Khmer justice and integrity. This is one of the weaknesses that our wise men used to say powerful Khmer is good for one thing and only is to abuse own kind. It clearly echoes, gau dombao khnorng kha:aek hoeur roum loang roum sai kontouy. The indecent provocations to UN envoy, is not beneficial to Cambodia self respect. So any National Assembly member raised a finger on its government critical act yet?
Due to 1991 Paris Peace Accord, UN needs to monitor human rights practice in Cambodia. It is an agreement witnessed by other impartial signatories beside Hanoi, Nom Penh and Beijing. From moral conscience, we shall never allow this breach and need to put a stop to this.
In truth, Yash Ghai may have been born in Kenya of Indian heritage but his duty is to speak for the abused in Cambodia. That means huge percentage of the total population. With a prolific resume and an academic integrity, he volunteers to see his fellow world citizen human rights must be regarded. Presently, he is the only voice that the world would listen to for the poor in Cambodia.
Obviously, all can agree the more Yash Ghai raises concern the more Hanoi gets paranoid in its own crimes against tribal and ethnic folks in central and Mekong Delta region. That also may raise some concerns over land encroachment done by Viet Nam as well. It appears the US Domino effect postulate and long overdue concern over Cambodia being had not left this old Indo China, just yet.
So let’s exercise our earned rights to urge the Capitol Hill and White House to stop Nom Penh’s Hoa Nam Vang (Hoang) foolish action. Without outside facilitation, the poor still can’t speak and continue to suffer more abuses from the powerful. Recently Cambodia had just signed ASEAN brand new charter on human rights too, so please do write to ASEAN Chairperson via Singapore Embassy in DC and ask him to stop Hun Sen and Hanoi from violating international agreement.
SEP2008/03/14 Samleng Yuveakchon Khmer [Report by Vichheka]
It is considered another bad news for the no longer opposition Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] when yesterday the major forces that used to support it decided to break away and defect to the Cambodian People's Party [CPP]. Sources added that CPP officials have already welcomed these defectors but have not yet organized a formal welcome ceremony for them. It is not known how true this news is. Nevertheless, it is believed that Rong Chhun, president of the Independent Cambodian Teachers Association, the one who used to sympathize with the SRP, has lately been quite distressed by the return of Secretary-General Eng Chhai-eang who both Rong Chhun and Chea Muni would love to see go away.
The CPP officials have claimed that everything has been settled now. There are only some finishing touches left to be made. And it is expected that there is no obstacle for the defectors to leave. On the contrary, the same CPP officials have claimed that while they have not been able to contact and convince Mrs. Mu Sochua to join the CPP, the defections of Rong Chhun and Chea Muni are quite important to them. This means that the CPP holds Rong Chhun and Chea Muni in esteem while it is known that the SRP has not shown any appreciation for either Rong Chhun or Chea Muni. Not just that, the no longer opposition party even rejects the efforts of the trade unionists and teachers.
Rong Chhun and Chea Muni are said to be remnants of people who still have some sympathy left for the no longer opposition SRP through the plea made by Mrs. Mu Sochua. This means that without Mrs. Mu Sochua these men would have walked out of the SRP long ago. Like Cambodian circles abroad that used to support the SRP, both Chea Muni and Rong Chhun do not have the slightest good feeling for Secretary-General Eng Chhai-eang. Moreover, whenever someone mentions the name of Eng Chhai-eang in their presence, Chea Muni and Rong Chhun feel quite uneasy. Nevertheless, Chea Muni and Rong Chhun have been asked to calm down in addition to the imploration of Mrs. Mu Sochua, deputy secretary-general of the SRP. Without his empathy with Mrs. Mu Sochua, Rong Chhun would have withdrawn his support for the SRP a long time ago.
According to CPP officials, while the negotiation with the two SRP sympathizers was going on, other parties also tried to persuade Rong Chhun to join them by promising to buy him off. However, no one really knows whether Rong Chhun has consented to the invitation of any of the other parties or not. Yet, according to reliable sources, it appears that the CPP has already firmly collared Rong Chhun. Tens of thousands of workers, as well as many teachers, are the reason why Chea Muni and Rong Chhun are so valuable. While the SRP has undermined the allegiance of these major forces with the presence of Eng Chhai-eang, it is believed that the CPP might have lucked out in its effort to win over Chea Muni and Rong Chhun.
Sources reported that Deputy Prime Minister Sok An of the Cabinet of the Council of Ministers was the one who foots the bill of the pre-election operations to attract the major forces to join the CPP. Among the moves to win over these major forces is also the effort to convert SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mrs. Mu Sochua, as well as Trade Union President Chea Muni, who controls an army of workers, and Independent Teachers Association President Rong Chhun, who also has a massive following in no way smaller than that of Chea Muni.
This is considered to be another blow that will break up the SRP. Nevertheless, Sam Rainsy, as well as Secretary-General Eng Chhai-eang, seems unimpressed by the defections of a number of party officials. In other words, those who left the SRP have been branded as persons without any value for the SRP. As a matter of fact, at this juncture, the report about Rong Chhun's departure should constitute worrisome news but the SRP officials said that there is nothing interesting and that it is the freedom of each person to choose to leave the party.
It is not known whether this is a fabricated rumor spread by the CPP or not, but it has been noted that both Rong Chhun and Chea Muni were quite disturbed by the presence of Eng Chhai-eang, who has returned to the post of secretary-general of the SRP. When both men are not happy with the no longer opposition party, it is possible that they might walk out and join another party in response to their feeling.
According to some reports, both Rong Chhun and Chea Muni have lately severed all relations with the SRP. They moreover have urged some officials to quit. Some sources say that the presence of Rong Chhun and Chea Muni could worry Eng Chhai-eang, too, because of something Rong Chhun is prepared to expose. However, if Rong Chhun maintains some sense of dignity and morality a number of secrets might remain secret. The sources said that President Sam Rainsy at this time appears to be very irritated and confused. He is not saying a word. According to some sources, the party president has let Eng Chhai-eang run everything.
As for the CPP, although it is not possible to guess about the future of the defectors, it is obvious that this party is paying keen attention to the new converts and it is expected that Rong Chhun and Chea Muni will not share the same bad luck as a number of past defectors.
[Description of Source: Phnom Penh Samleng Yuveakchon Khmer in Cambodian -- Daily newspaper carrying mostly articles supporting Prince Norodom Ranariddh, leader of his own party, who was ousted as leader of the royalist FUNCINPEC Party founded by his father Norodom Sihanouk]
The Cambodian People's Party (CPP) has filed a law suit against Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the Funcinpec President, alleging that he made defamatory statements against Prime Minister Hun Sen of being involved in the killing of pro-Funcinpec radio journalist Chuor Chetharith. Funcinpec has since counter-sued. As a Khmer-American attorney with bar membership in New York, I would like to highlight the basic elements of defamation law as practiced in the US, but with principles of fairness and justice that apply to this case.
What is defamation? Defamation consists of slander (speaking) and libel (written). To prevail in a defamation suit, the plaintiff must satisfy three elements: the defendant made (1) a statement harmful to reputation, (2) that was communicated to a third party, (3) which the speaker/publisher knew or should have known was false.
Here, the CPP is suing Prince Ranariddh for slander, defamation by speaking. In essence, the plaintiff CPP alleges that Prince Ranariddh made a statement that caused injury to the reputation of Mr Hun Sen [leader of the CPP, which gives it standing, the right to sue], either because the statement is so defamatory on its face (per se) or it causes harm to Mr Hun Sen's reputation and exposes him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, or degradation. If the slander is not apparent on its face, the CPP has the burden of pleading and proving these extrinsic facts.
Furthermore, the CPP is arguing that Prince Ranariddh communicated this alleged defamatory statement to a third person, that he didn't just mutter it to himself or speak alone to Mr Hun Sen about it.
And lastly, the CPP is charging that Prince Ranariddh knew or should have known that his alleged statement against Mr Hun Sen was false.
Defenses to Defamation
Should the court find that the CPP has established these three necessary elements of defamation, Prince Ranariddh is not left without defenses. Truth is a complete defense to a charge of defamation. Prince Ranariddh could argue, yes, even if he did make the defamatory statement causing injury to Mr Hun Sen's reputation, nonetheless, what he said is true.
Moreover, freedom of speech is a defense, in order to deter frivolous defamation lawsuits to chill public discourse. As a public figure, Mr Hun Sen has the added burden not only to show objectively that a "reasonable person", ie, an average Cambodian, knew or should have known that his statement linking Mr Hun Sen to the journalist's death was false, but also to prove that Prince Ranariddh maliciously made the statement with a reckless disregard for the truth. Again, as a public official, Mr Hun Sen must show defendant's actual malice with convincing clarity.
As this is a matter of public concern, it is Mr Hun Sen's burden to prove the falsity of Prince Ranariddh's alleged statement.
Another defense gives Prince Ranariddh a qualified privilege to the defamatory statement if it was made at a proper occasion, from a proper motive, and based on reasonable and probable cause.
Relatedly, Prince Ranariddh can argue that his right to petition for grievance privileges him against defamation charges. This defense takes the following line of argument: the well-known pro-Funcinpec stance of journalist Chuor Chetharith has given Prince Ranariddh, the President of Funcinpec, the right to petition Mr Hun Sen for redress of grievances. In doing so, the law absolutely protects him from defamation.
Again, my comments are based on English legal traditions and precedents, but the aforementioned legal principles nonetheless can work to supplement the less-developed, still evolving Franco-Khmer laws on this issue.
Gino Troiani The nation of Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia, just west of Vietnam. It is largely underdeveloped, poverty stricken, and lacks a strong central government.
To support themeselves, many Cambodians live and work on farms, or in factories. In a nation where the average annual salary is around $350 a year, some citizens turn to illegal activities such as narcotics or the sex trade to make money.
Brothels have been an easy way to generate revenue for Cambodian pimps since the early 1900's. When the United Nations (UN) entered Cambodia, sending troops to supervise the country's transition to the current democratic government, there was a large demand for prostitutes. Not long after the UN left, brothel owners discovered that they could market young girls to huge numbers of foreign clientele.
Today the sex trade in Cambodia is one of the largest money making businesses in the nation.
Out of an estimated 20,000 sex workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, the average age is around 15.
According to the U.S. State Department, sex trafficking is becoming a bigger business worldwide than drug trafficking. This means that every day thousands of young girls and boys are bought and sold into slavery.
The big question is, how do these young people find themselves as sex slaves?
According to a recent MSNBC article, one of the most popular ways of recruiting is by promising young girls steady work and shelter, an appealing prospect for girls who hope to help their families with much needed income. When they agree, they are brought to the brothel and sold for money. Because many young women in Cambodia are homeless and uneducated, one can imagine how easy this type of recruiting is. It is also not uncommon for a struggling family to sell one of their own children into the sex trade. The article reported that one woman recalls being tricked and sold to a brothel by her newly wed husband for $200.
The majority of brothels are usually filthy, run down shacks, that offer subhuman living conditions. Upon arrival, the young women are usually beaten, cadged and drugged.
Dateline also reported that, it is also common for the pimps to show pornography to the youngest women, as "educational" background so they know how to service a paying customer. Because Cambodia is ravaged with HIV, AIDS, and numerous sexually transmitted diseases, it is considered good luck for a Cambodian man to have sex with a virgin. Because of this, it is not uncommon for the young girls to have their hymen re-stitched so that they can be sold as virgins more than once for a larger sum. Their ages range from 4 and up.
CNN recently reported that, a young girl only fifteen who was recently rescued from a brothel testified that she had been "locked in a cage," and forced to service at least fifteen customers a day. If she objected she was starved, and shocked with electric rods. She was also given a methamphetamine tablet several times a day to cloud her memory and keep her in an altered state.
What is being done?
There have been numerous efforts by both internal and external organizations to break up the sex trade in Cambodia, but the struggle is far from over. The Cambodian government has set up an anti-trafficking department, but it is poorly funded, and many of the enforcement officers partake in the illegal activity themselves, such as taking handouts and tipping off the brothel owners.
For the girls who do find a way out of the sex trade, many of them turn to specialized shelters, which are dedicated to the rehabilitation of the young women. Here they receive both medical and psychological attention. The sad truth is that most of these girls die at a young age because of AIDS or other physical problems. Also a large number of the girls end up leaving and returning to a life of prostitution because it is the only thing they know.
Most of these young women have been exploited and abused on a daily basis for the majority of their lives. They have been stripped of their basic human rights, and demoralized to the point where there is nothing left but an empty shell. The United States and other developed countries have a moral obligation to educate and hold Cambodia to ensuring basic human rights for all.
PHNOM PENH, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Prime ministers of the six countries sharing the Mekong River will convene in Vientiane, Laos, on March 31 for the Third Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit, said a press release from the Asia Development Bank (ADB) to Cambodia here on Sunday.
The Summit aims to enhance development, economic cooperation among the Mekong countries, including Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, through greater infrastructure connectivity, trade and transport facilitation, private investment, environmental management, and other measures, it said.
Leaders will discuss coordinated actions to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development for all the countries and people of the GMS by enhancing connectivity and competitiveness, and promoting an increased sense of community, it added.
ADB defines an area of 811,000 square km along the Mekong Riveras GMS. The bank is also responsible for coordinating development issues of the six countries related to the river through various GMS meetings.