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4 December 2008
AI Index: ASA 23/015/2008

Open Letter by International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Centre on Housing

Rights and Evictions (COHRE), Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International Regarding

The Forced Eviction of Residents of Boeung Kak Lake in the Phnom Penh Municipality.

To Mr. Kep Chuktema, Governor of the Municipality of Phnom Penh:

We write to you to express our deep concerns about recent developments affecting residents of the Boeung Kak Lake area in central Phnom Penh. Some residents near the lake have been forcibly evicted, while others are facing eviction amid rising water levels, and threats and harassment. Government officials and company workers have threatened residents in and around Boeung Kak Lake and NGOs supporting them, when they have campaigned against the filling of the lake and imminent eviction. Heavily armed police, including military police, frequently harass community leaders and NGO workers and block access to the area. Journalists face intimidation when reporting about the developments, including on 27 November 2008 when police took reporters in for questioning about their coverage of
the situation.

As you know, in February 2007 the Municipality of Phnom Penh entered into a 99-year lease agreement for US$79 million for 133 hectares, including Boeung Kok lake and surrounding land, with a private developer, Shukaku Inc. According to the government, the company will turn the area into "pleasant, trade, and service places for domestic and international tourists," including by filling in 90% of the lake. On 26 August 2008 a company began filling the lake, which has worsened flooding and caused the destruction of some houses.

The development will lead to the eviction of almost 4,000 families, despite many of the affected families having strong legal claims to the land under the Land Law. Without prior meaningful consultation, affected communities are currently being made non-negotiable offers of compensation or houses in a relocation site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The compensation offered is insufficient for families to obtain comparable alternative housing. Housing at the relocation site is not adequate: infrastructure is poor, basic amenities including clean water is lacking, and access to work opportunities is very limited given the distance from the city. Moreover, offers include no formal security of tenure for those agreeing to move.

Residents have sought to halt the filling of the lake which is gradually destroying homes, and have requested more compensation. However, the Municipality has told residents that they do not have the right to demand anything more than the offered compensation.

We also note with concern the prevalence of forced evictions in Cambodia. Forced evictions are
evictions that are carried out without adequate notice, consultation with those affected, legal safeguards or assurances of adequate alternative accommodation. They violate Cambodian law and Cambodia's international human rights obligations.

The development of the lake breaches Cambodian law. According to the 2001 Land Law, the lake itself is inalienable state land (so-called state public property), and as such cannot be leased for longer tha 15 years, during which time the function of the property must not change. In August 2008, a subdecree reclassified Boeung Kak Lake into private state land, in what appeared to be an attempt to validate the lease.

The agreement also appears to breach other domestic law and implementing regulations as the
environmental impact assessment has not been made widely available to the public or to the affected communities, and because no open bidding process preceded the agreement.

As noted above, the development of the Boeung Kak lake breaches Cambodia's international human rights obligations. According to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Cambodia, as a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), is obliged to ensure, before any planned evictions, that all alternatives are explored in consultation with those affected by the eviction. Evictions may only occur in accordance with the law and in conformity with international standards, including genuine consultation with those affected; adequate notice and information on the proposed eviction, and provisions of legal remedies for those affected. Evictions may only occur if they do not render individuals homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights.

We therefore call on the Municipality of Phnom Penh to ensure that the rights of the residents of Boeung Kak lake are respected and protected, and that victims of forced evictions are provided with effective remedies, including restitution of housing, land or property. We also request that arbitrary arrests, intimidation and restrictions of the right to peaceful protest be stopped immediately.

Recent research by Amnesty International and local partners indicates that 150,000 people in Cambodia are living under threat of forced eviction, including up to 70,000 in Phnom Penh alone. The government should end forced evictions and introduce a moratorium on mass evictions until the legal framework and relevant policies are in place to ensure that evictions are conducted only in accordance with Cambodia's international human rights obligations.

The evictions taking place to pave the way for the development of Boeung Kak are emblematic of a broader problem of violations of the right to adequate housing in Cambodia. The Cambodian government has an obligation under international law to protect the population against forced evictions. Everyone -- whether owners, renters or unregistered settlers -- should possess a degree of security of tenure which guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats.

We sincerely hope that you will take into consideration our concerns. In this regard we would like to request a meeting with you and relevant officials to discuss Boeung Kak lake and related matters.

Yours sincerely,

Souhayr Belhassen, President, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Salih Booker, Executive Director, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
Brad Adams, Asia Director, Human Rights Watch
Sam Zarifi, Director, Asia-Pacific Programme, Amnesty International.

Global Draw and Elixir Gaming form Strategic Alliance for Placement of Server-Based Gaming Machines in Asia

Dec. 5, 2008

NEW YORK, Dec 05, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ ("Elixir Gaming") announced today they have formed a strategic alliance to address new opportunities in the high-potential gaming market of Cambodia through placements of Global Draw's popular server-based gaming machines at Elixir Gaming sourced venues. Pursuant to this agreement, gaming machines from Global Draw will be placed at venues on a revenue share basis and Global Draw and Elixir Gaming will share in the net win of the machines placed into operation. It is expected that Global Draw and Elixir Gaming will enter into a similar arrangement for the Philippines in the first quarter of 2009.

The first placement of Global Draw machines under this new agreement of approximately 65 Silverball networked gaming machines will be placed in casinos and licensed gaming halls in popular visitor destinations in Cambodia, as sourced by Elixir Gaming, during the first quarter of calendar 2009. In addition to securing new locations for the placement of Global Draw products, Elixir Gaming will provide ongoing marketing and technical support of the installed units.
Global Draw first introduced server-based gaming to the British betting market in the late nineties and has over 13,000 of its popular Silverball and Nevada terminals operating worldwide.

Neil Moir, Director of International Business Development for Global Draw, said: "This new alliance with Elixir Gaming aligns us with the perfect strategic partner to immediately access the South East Asian gaming market, which is the fastest growing gaming market in the world and represents another significant milestone in Global Draw's ability to expand our presence beyond our core market in the UK. Global Draw's unique downloadable, server-based games and services are applicable to all global markets as they allow us to work closely with our customers to increase machine income by making constant changes to our content. We are very pleased to leverage the benefits of Global Draw's unique products with the expertise Elixir Gaming has quickly developed in addressing the Cambodian market through their strong market presence and expanding relationships with venue owners. We expect our exciting level of content and increasing the level of security and flexibility offered by our products will provide immediate benefits to venue owners and their players in these rapidly growing markets."

Elixir Gaming is a leading supplier of technology gaming solutions in its key markets in Asia. Through its growing installation base of over 1,200 electronic gaming machines which are leased to its customers on a participation basis, local market relationships, and operational expertise, Elixir Gaming has established a meaningful presence in the high-potential gaming markets of the Philippines and Cambodia.

Clarence Chung, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Elixir Gaming, said: "We are delighted to be working with a company like Scientific Games, and its subsidiary Global Draw, which share our passion for delivering excellence in terms of cutting edge games, technology, and customer service. This agreement provides us with opportunities to ramp up our installed base with value-added networked gaming machines that complement our existing operating units. Importantly, this new alliance is another indication of the progress we are making with initiatives to improve our operating performance as we believe the entertainment value of Global Draw's products will help to deliver incremental net revenues to Elixir Gaming while allowing us to preserve capital for execution on additional growth initiatives."

St. Louis teacher returns from Cambodia trip

Friday, December 5, 2008

Morning Sun
Sun Staff Writer

Jennifer Ruble has traveled to South Africa and Colombia, but she’s never experienced anything like she did on a recent trip to Cambodia.

The 31-year-old St. Louis Nikkari Elementary School teacher returned last week from a 12-day stay in the Southeast Asian nation where she taught English and helped evaluate teaching methods.

Ruble was part of a mission trip sponsored by Resurrection Life Church in St. Louis. More than a dozen members made the journey to offer assistance and advice on such topics as agriculture and building trades.

She spent most of her time at the New Life School in Phnom Penh, the nation’s largest city and capital.

“Public education in Cambodia costs a lot of money,” Ruble said. “Only about 9 percent of the people actually graduate or make it to the ninth grade. They have to pay bribes to go to school because of the government is so corrupt.

“But the Cambodian Outreach started the New Life School with sponsorships from the United States and Australia. It’s free. They provide children with an education, food, clothing and in some cases housing.”

In addition to teaching, Ruble also helped train Cambodian teachers and offer advice in areas such as student discipline, art education, physical education, computers, and health and hygiene.

“I also held an assembly, which was the first one the students ever had,” she said. “It had a water theme and I taught them the wave.”

The teachers were also eager to learn new things, Ruble added.

“They never had any training or college education,” she explained.

“The majority never even graduated from high school so they were thankful for any help.

“But the thing I loved was they had such a passion for the kids. They wanted to learn whatever they could to help them more. It was so refreshing.”

The New Life School, however, wasn’t really an accurate reflection of the Cambodian culture.“It’s a very, very poor country,” Ruble said.

“Just unimaginable. There was trash all over, the smell was awful and there were homeless children running around all over.

“The country has been ravaged by the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. Most people had a hard time trusting (foreigners). Almost everyone was younger than me because so many had been killed in the fightilg.”

She spent one day with the “Joy Club,” another outreach organization that assists the homeless children.

“They are in such a desperate situation,” Ruble said. “We had 200 or 300 kids that they bathed, fed and played games with. The children had no social skills. They had open sores, lice and they were starving.

“It was so much different at the school where the kids had some hope, and they were clean, well fed and smart.”

Her fellow teachers at Nikkari sent nearly 150 pounds of classroom supplies to Cambodia with Ruble. Ithaca dentist Martha Bamfield also donated toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste, and other community members and organizations also helped out.

“The school didn’t even have any crayons,” Ruble said.

“The donations were really awesome.”Nikkari students also sent letters and photos to their counterparts in Cambodia.

“The kids were so excited to get things from Americans,” Ruble said.

“They all sent letters of thanks and pictures of themselves back to our students so they could learn about each other.”

Ruble intends to continue assisting the school and its teachers any way she can.

“We’re going to keep in touch by email,” she said.

“I felt like I really made a difference. There is hope. I would like to go back some day because I feel there is so much more I can do.”

Resurrection Life Church, 714 S. Main St. in St. Louis, is hosting a program at 6 p.m. Sunday that will include videos and testimonials from those who made the trip. The public is invited to attend.

For more information on the mission program go online to

ADB supports Cambodia's push to diversify economy

December 5, 2008

MANILA, Dec. 5 — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a loan and grant financing for a program that supports the Cambodian government's drive to expand the private sector and diversify its economic base beyond garments, tourism, and construction.

ADB is extending a 24-year, US$ 20-million loan to be sourced from its concessional Asian Development Fund to finance reforms designed to improve the business climate and trade facilitation for the private sector.

It is also providing a US$ 2 million grant to build up the capacity of the country’s sanitary and phytosanitary management systems.

The loan is for the first subprogram of the Promoting Economic Diversification Program – a cluster of three subprograms that will help roll out a series of government policy reforms and measures to create a more stable macroeconomic environment, to lower the cost of doing business for private firms, to expand trade, and to improve food safety standards.

The Program also helps implement ADB’s Greater Mekong Subregion technical work on trade facilitation at the national level.

The recent global commodity price and financial shocks have slowed Cambodia’s economic growth rate in 2008 and lower growth is projected for 2009. These shocks highlight the country’s vulnerability due to its narrow economic base.

“The challenge for Cambodia is to sustain a high economic growth rate, accelerate the creation of productive jobs and to continue its poverty reduction efforts — difficult tasks with half of the population under 20 years old and more than 85 percent employed in the informal sector,” said Kelly Bird, Senior Economist with ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

The Program supports the government’s own efforts to diversify the economy. Based on ADB estimates, reforms planned under the full Program could add 2.4 percent to Cambodia’s gross domestic product, boost employment levels by 4.3 percent for males and 6.3 percent for females, and cut the incidence of poverty by a further 2.7 percent.

One innovative feature of the overall Program is the inclusion of policy ‘triggers’ or milestones that pave the way for technical assistance projects designed to support private sector competitiveness.

One example is the grant for the improvement of sanitary and phytosanitary management which was approved after the government met a series of policy milestones under subprogram 1.

Another one in the pipeline is a matching grant technology project targeting small enterprises under subprogram 2. (PNA)

Football: Singapore beats Cambodia 5-0 in opening tie of AFF Suzuki Cup

By Patwant Singh
Channel NewsAsia
05 December 2008

SINGAPORE: Singapore wants to make history by winning the ASEAN Football Federation Cup for the third successive time.

And the Lions got off to a good start, beating Cambodia 5-0 in their opening tie at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.

Singapore was the clear favourite to score and Aleksander Duric came close in the 11th minute with a solo effort.

Minutes later, Agu Casmir also missed a golden chance to score a goal.

Singapore continued to fire blanks as the pressure mounted on the defending champion.

More frustration was felt for Singapore, when Duric finally found the back of the Cambodian net but saw his goal being ruled off-side.

Minutes from the break, Agu Casmir scored to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.

The floodgates opened for Singapore in the second half. The second goal was scored by Mustafic Fahrudin, after Noh Rahman was brought down.

Indra Sahdan Daud followed with another goal after he came on as a substitute, making it 3-0 for the Lions.

Agu Casmir then scored his second goal for the night, to give Singapore a 4-0 goal advantage, before Noh Alam Shah wrapped it up with a superb effort by making it five goals in all.

The Lions scored three points with their 5-0 win. They will meet Myanmar on Sunday.

Khmer Rouge prison chief faces new charge

Monsters and Critics
Asia-Pacific News
Dec 5, 2008

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes tribunal on Friday laid a new charge against a former leader of the genocidal Khmer Rogue regime, while also rejecting an attempt to have a controversial conspiracy charge brought against him.

Following an appeal from prosecutors to have charges broadened, Kaing Guek Eav, known by his communist name 'Duch', will now face a charge of premeditated murder on top of the crimes against humanity charges, for which he was indicted in August.

The new charge also means Duch will be tried according to Cambodian law, which could expedite the trial process.

The 66-year-old is the youngest of five former leaders facing trial for their roles in the deaths of up to two million people through execution, starvation and exhaustion during the Khmer Rouge's reign between 1975 and 1978.

Duch was in charge the infamous S21 prison in Phnom Penh, where an estimated 16,000 men, women and children were tortured and killed.

The former mathematics teacher and born-again Christian has publicly expressed remorse for his role in overseeing the school- turned-torture facility.

Duch has been in pre-trial detention since 1999 and attended Friday's pre-trial hearing. Judges did not call on him to speak.

The court rejected an appeal to bring a charge of joint criminal enterprise - a controversial legal doctrine which attempts to hold multiple people responsible for the crimes of a single group or organisation.

President of the pre-trial chamber Prak Kimsan said the appeal was rejected because the prosecution's evidence for joint criminal enterprise was 'too vague'.

Legal experts have said a joint criminal enterprise charge could broaden the tribunal's scope and lead to the arrest and indictment of more former Khmer Rogue members. Duch's trial is due to begin in January.

UN, Senior Official Expect Tribunal Talks

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
05 December 2008

Khmer audio aired 04 December 2008 - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 04 December 2008 - Listen (MP3)

High-level discussions over the Khmer Rouge tribunal are expected to take place next week, a government spokesman said Thursday.

A UN representative is expected to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An Dec. 9, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said, as a tribunal moves forward amid corruption allegations.

Phay Siphan would not elaborate details of the meeting, but the scheduling comes after faltering plans between Sok An and UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Peter Taksoe-Jensen.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal is preparing for its first trial, against jailed prison chief Duch, which is expected early next year, but the courts have also been hampered by allegations from Cambodian staff that they paid kickbacks to other officials.

Small Party Leader Laments Slow Reform

Kem Sokha, bottom right, addresses supporters of his Human Rights Party this year.

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
05 December 2008

Khmer audio aired 04 December 2008 - Download (MP3) Khmer audio aired 04 December 2008 - Listen (MP3)

Kem Sokha, whose Human Rights Party gained three National Assembly seats in July’s election, becoming a part of the opposition, said Thursday he was disappointed in the slow pace of Cambodian reform and the absence of the checks and balances that make democracies functional.

Fifteen years of reform had failed to bring true democratic reform, he said, as the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, under the rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen, controlled all branches of government.

“There are no checks and balances,” Kem Sokha said, as a guest on “Hello VOA,” leading to the loss of representation for “about half a million voices.”

The CPP won a commanding 90 seats in the 2008 National Assembly election, and it has put party members as the head of each of the body’s nine committees.

Kem Sokha said that a rule of the National Assembly requiring 11 parliamentarians to form in order for one member to address the body was a regression “toward communism, like the ‘80s.”

Democracy require political freedom, economic freedom and social freedom, he said, adding that the system of administration in Cambodia should also change, graduating out of the hands of a single leader, such as Hun Sen.

“It is now just based on one individual, who, when he wants something, they do, and when he does not want to do, they do not do,” he said.

The CPP won their seats through fear, gift-giving, vote-buying, threats and fraud, he said, adding that if a neutral election committee from abroad were to organize the elections, the ruling party would completely lose.

The Human Rights Party is ready to join the main opposition party, of Sam Rainsy, for future elections, he said, denying rumors he would challenge Sam Rainsy for the presidency.

Aid Packet Comes With Some Expectations

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
05 December 2008

Khmer audio aired 05 December 2008 - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 05 December 2008 - Listen (MP3)

Donor agencies and governments said Friday they had confidence in Cambodia’s commitment to pass an anti-corruption law and continue reforms in public finance and transparency, justifying a decision to hand the government a giant aid package.

The nearly $1 billion in aid pledged Friday was to support the government’s development plan, help the country grow, and help reduce the number of poor, said Qimiao Fan, the World Bank’s Cambodia manager and facilitator for the 17 donors.

“In our support, we encouraged the government to improve the transparency and the management of these resources for the benefit for the people,” he said. “The government needs to further integrate the planning with budgeting and aid management, so that these resources raised from external donors they use efficiently and effectively for the benefit of the Cambodian people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.”

“Priority areas” discussed in the two days of meetings included education, health, agriculture, infrastructure and social protection, he said.

The British government, which increased it aid from about $20.5 million last year to $26.4 million this year, would support “a number of areas of development, particularly supporting good governance, the health sector, and rural development,” the country’s ambassador, Andrew Mace, said Thursday.

“The prime minister set out some very clear challenges facing the country,” he said. “He set out a very clear agenda for action by his own government, and a willingness to work in close partnership with the donors, and we welcome that very much.”

“We recognize very well the need of the Cambodian people for assistance…in addressing issues such as health, education, road developments, [and] many challenges facing them,” he said.

“We’re working closely with the government to know those areas. We welcome their commitments in those areas. I welcome their commitments for good governance and combating corruption [and] we look forward to those commitments to been turned into practice.”

Cambodia Awarded Nearly $1 Billion in Aid

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
05 December 2008

Khmer audio aired 05 December 2008 - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired 05 December 2008 - Listen (MP3)

Cambodia was awarded nearly $1 billion in aid promises Friday, with Chinese aid surpassing that of any other country or agency.

“This week is a $1 billion week for Cambodia,” Keat Chhon told reporters after the two-day donor meeting ended Friday. “This aid package we have not yet divided into loans and grants,” he said, and the total so far did not include aid from some agencies or countries.

Of the total $951.5 million, China pledged $257 million, compared to $91.5 million. The EU pledged $214 million, compared to $170.2 million last year. Japan maintained its aid level, promising $113 million this year, compared to $112.2 million in 2007.

The US, which was the No. 3 donor last year, with $48.8 million in pledged aid, did not disclose an amount Friday, but officials said they were committed to a strong relationship with the government.

The government said in a statement Friday the country’s economic growth rate was likely to fall in 2009, meaning “the Royal Government will need to maintain commitment to the current reform program, react swiftly to minimize adverse effects of global recession on key sectors and the poorest segments of the population, and to focus on rural development and the modernization of agriculture in order to protect people’s livelihoods.”

Two Crimes Added to Duch Indictment

Duch will also be charged with murder and torture for his role as chief of Tuol Sleng prison under the Khmer Rouge.

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
05 December 2008

Jailed Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch was handed two more counts in his atrocity crimes indictment Friday, but he was not charged under a legal principle that would link four other leaders to his alleged crimes.

Chief judge Prak Kimsan announced the decision of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Pre-Trial Chamber Friday, adding the crimes of murder and torture from Cambodia’s Penal Code to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The decision moved the tribunal one step closer to Duch's trial, expected in early 2009, the first ever for courts that have faltered from their inception, alarming critics who worry leaders will perish before they face trial.

Tribunal prosecutors in September lodged an appeal against the indictment, part of a so-called “closing order” by the investigating judges, noting Duch had not been indicted for the two crimes, which fall under the 1956 Penal Code.

Prosecutors also noted Duch, who real name is Kaing Kek Iev, was not indicted for all crimes committed in the notorious prison he ran, Tuol Sleng, known to the Khmer Rouge by the codename S-21.

The Pre-Trial judges said Friday they had found enough reason in the appeal to add the two crimes to Duch’s indictment.

They announced they had found enough cause for murder, because Duch had allegedly planned or incited killings at S-21 and the nearby site of mass graves, or “killing fields,” at Chhoeung Ek, a commune in Phnom Penh’s Dankao district.

Duch’s defense lawyers did not comment after the hearing, but in a brief submitted to the Pre-Trial Chamber in November, they expressed worry that the murder and torture claims could delay the court through further investigation.

However, Hong Kimsuon, a lawyer for the civil parties in Duch’s case, said Friday the new indictment would not extend the investigation or prolong the process.

“It is only an additional [two charges], and after that they will go forward to trial,” he said.

Judge Prak Kimsan also said Friday Duch would be detained until his trial and the case would now be forwarded to the Trial Chamber.

Prak Kimsan said the legal principal known as joint criminal enterprise, which could potentially link the other leaders with Duch’s crimes, had not been satisfactorily demonstrated.