Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Police brutality against Mu Sochua supporters - RFA


RFA posted this video clip showing Hun Xen regime's police brutality against Mrs. Mu Sochua supporters following her guilty verdict handed down by the CPP-controller Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Bilateral meeting in Bangkok August 5, 2009. Both sides said they would solve differences on border areas with diplomacy and in a friendly manner

Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong (L) speaks next to Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya during a news conference after a bilateral meeting in Bangkok August 5, 2009. Both sides said they would solve differences on border areas with diplomacy and in a friendly manner.

REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya (R) shakes hands with Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong at the end of a news conference after a bilateral meeting in Bangkok August 5, 2009. Both sides said they would solve differences on border areas with diplomacy and in a friendly manner.

REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya (R) and Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong speak during a news conference after a bilateral meeting in Bangkok August 5, 2009. Both sides said they would solve differences on border areas with diplomacy in a friendly manner.

REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

FontMailPrintDiscuss Vocational center provides hope for widows, poor women

August 05 2009
KOMPONG CHAM, Cambodia : Widows and poor rural women in Kompong Cham area are now learning livelihood skills, thanks to the recent opening of a Church-run center.

The Society of St. Martha center, jointly operated by Kompong Cham parish, Caritas Cambodia and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, has been training them to make Khmer and Western sweets and desserts since it opened in June.

Ten women aged 35-50 years study at the center for two hours every afternoon from Monday to Friday, according to Rose Yip, the center's coordinator. The course takes up to four months to complete, she said.

The program is open only to poor or widowed women, Yip explained, adding that come on bicycles from as far as eight kilometers away. She said the center has engaged two volunteers from Singapore, in addition to several local Cambodians, as instructors.

As most of the course participants are illiterate, they also attend a Khmer literacy class at the nearby Caritas office after their cooking class. This is because trainees need to write down the recipes they learn, Yip explained.

Dy Von, 48, a trainee, said she has learned to make five different Khmer sweets while at the same time learning to read and write Khmer. She needs to help support her family of four children and her farmer husband during the non-growing season, she said.

Men Ros, another trainee, said she not only acquires skills at the center but also makes friends and learns to work with others. She plans to run a small business from her home after the course.

Yip said the center helps participants plan for their future and also loans them money to start their own businesses.

According to her, the center has received around US$4,000 from French and Singaporean donors, half of which was spent on the building and equipment. The center spends up to US$2 each day on cooking ingredients, she said.

Kompong Cham is the base of one of three Church jurisdictions in the country. The others are based in Phnom Penh and Battambang.

Courtesy : UCAN

PM Warns Critics About Calling Cambodia "Dictatorial Regime"

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AFP)--Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday warned critics they risk legal action if they call the country a "dictatorial regime."

"Be careful with the language of 'dictatorial regime.' Be careful, (or) one day legal action will be used," Hun Sen said during a graduation ceremony in the capital, Phnom Penh.

The premier's warning appeared to be aimed at those who allege senior Cambodian officials have recently used defamation lawsuits against critics to impede freedom of expression.

"This is a constitutional monarchy," Hun Sen said. "Don't curse it as a dictatorial regime - be careful!"

"(And) when legal action is used, you guys would say freedom of expression is prohibited, but your expression is wrong," he said.

Hun Sen's remarks came a day after a court found outspoken opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua guilty of defaming him and ordered her to pay more than $4,000 in fines and compensation.

Local human rights group Licadho said the verdict was "predictably unjust, and shows yet again how the courts are controlled by the government and used as a weapon against its political opponents."

There have been three defamation or disinformation convictions against Cambodian government critics in just over a month, the United Nations human rights office said Wednesday.

New York-based Human Rights Watch recently alleged Hun Sen's government aimed to silence political opposition and critics with a "campaign of harassment, threats, and unwarranted legal action."

Nicholas Kristof and the New Abolitionism

Dustin Franz/Aspen Daily News
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof speaks to a full house at Paepcke Auditorium on Tuesday.

by Andrew Travers, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof went to Southeast Asia and bought two child prostitutes recently.

He collected receipts from the brothel as the new owner of these two teenage Cambodian girls. Then he took them back to their families.

The transaction, reminiscent of American abolitionists who did the same and bought slaves to free them here 150 years ago, sparked controversy recently when Kristof wrote a column about it.

He stood by the move in a speech to a supportive overflow crowd at the Aspen Institute’s Paepcke Auditorium on Tuesday night, saying he had interviewed and written about two other teen Cambodian prostitutes years earlier. That time he left without trying to help them.

“I walked out knowing that I had a great front page story and those two girls were going to end up staying there and probably dying of AIDS,” he said of the earlier trip, as an objective reporter and not the columnist crusader he has become. “It felt unequal and it felt, frankly, kind of exploitative ... . It’s just unimaginable that 150 years after emancipation we still have slavery on this kind of scale in so many parts of the world.”

At the peak of the transatlantic slave trade in the 1700s, he noted, about 80,000 Africans were taken into slavery each year. Right now, Kristof said, about 1 million girls are annually sold into the modern version.

In last night’s speech, Kristof gave a call to action, not only for the freedom of girls sold into the sex trade, but for the education and economic empowerment of all women in underdeveloped nations.

“Just as the central moral challenge for the 19th century was slavery and in the 20th century was totalitarianism,” he said, “the central moral challenge for this century will be to address gender inequity in the developing world.”

Indeed, these days, Kristof often sounds more like William Lloyd Garrison than Maureen Dowd.

His forthcoming book, co-written with his wife and fellow Pulitzer-winner Sheryl Wudunn, tackles the plight of women in the developing nations that make up his Times beat. Among the issues plaguing these women: maternal mortality and lack of education, along with a brutal male-dominated culture of cruelty toward their bodies and lives. Titled “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” it comes out next month.

Kristof outlined some of his more provocative ideas on women in the developing world in his speech. For example, he said that in households that earn less than $1 per day worldwide where men control spending, 2 percent of their income goes to education of their children while 20 percent goes to things like tobacco, alcohol and prostitution. So, getting women more involved in the spending economy there could actually lead to better-educated families and more money toward necessary things like food or medicine, Kristof said.

For the fortunate folks in well-off places like Aspen, he suggested, giving aid to the developing world should become a more active process.

For instance, he said, donating money toward a scholarship for a schoolgirl in Third World Africa or Asia can unexpectedly be a detriment to the girl who gets it. Why? Because, oftentimes, the headmasters choose the prettiest girl in the school and expect sex in exchange for the scholarship money.

“And he may have HIV or AIDS,” Kristof added.

“My advice to you,” the missionary journalist concluded, “would be to pick a particular project that really means a lot to you. Research it and drill deep. Stay with it for a number of years. Take your family — it’s a huge educational process for one’s own family, as well.”

Khmer Rouge court told how Westerner burned alive

A photographer takes pictures of Cheam Soeu, 52, the former guard of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison, known Tuol Sleng genocide museum, on a screen at the court press center of the U.N.-backed tribunal while Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch is on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian farmer reads a Khmer Rouge document book outside the court hall for the trail of Kaing Guek Eav, also know as Duch, the former chief of the Khmer Rouge's S-21 prison, known as the Tuol Sleng genocide museum at the U.N.-backed tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian farmers wait outside the court hall for the trail of Kaing Guek Eav, also know as Duch, the former chief of the Khmer Rouge's S-21 prison, known as the Tuol Sleng genocide museum at the U.N.-backed tribunal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A former security guard at the Khmer Rouge's most notorious prison told a tribunal Wednesday he watched as a Western prisoner was burned alive.

But the head of the prison — the first senior Khmer Rouge figure to face trial in the U.N.-assisted tribunal — denied it.

"It's hard for me to believe that the prisoner was burned alive. I believe that nobody would dare to violate my order," Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, told the court. "They had to be killed and then burned to ash."

Up to 16,000 people were tortured under Duch's command at S-21 prison and later were taken away to be killed during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-1979 rule of Cambodia. Only a handful survived.

Cheam Soeu, now 52, told the court he was a youth when he joined the Khmer Rouge and helped the communist regime take power. He spent two years as a guard at S-21, where four Westerners were among the prisoners.

The Westerners included an American, an Australian, a New Zealander and a Briton, who were captured on their yacht while sailing in Cambodian waters.

Cheam Soeu told the court he was on guard outside the prison late one evening and watched as one of the Westerners — he does not know which — was led by three security guards to the street.

"The prisoner was still alive. They asked him to sit down, and they put a car tire over his body," Cheam Soeu testified. He said guards then set the body on fire. "I saw the charred torso of the body and black burned legs."

Cheam Soeu said he constantly feared that if he did something wrong he would face the same fate.

Some 1.7 million Cambodians died of torture, summary executions, disease and starvation during the Khmer Rouge's rule, during which the Maoist ideologues emptied cities and forced virtually the entire population to work on farm collectives.

Duch (pronounced DOIK) testified previously that he carried out orders from the regime's late leader Pol Pot to kill the four Westerners and then burn their corpses. Prison records suggest there may have been as many as 11 Western prisoners.

Duch, 66, is the only senior Khmer Rouge figure to acknowledge responsibility for his actions. He is charged with crimes against humanity and is the first of five defendants scheduled for long-delayed trials.

Senior leaders Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Ieng Sary's wife, Ieng Thirith, are detained and are scheduled to face trial in the next year or two.

UN appeals to Cambodia to respect free speech obligations

Wed, 05 Aug 2009
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - The UN's human rights office in Cambodia Wednesday appealed to the judiciary to respect the country's national and international obligations on freedom of speech, saying that a recent spate of lawsuits risks stifling public debate. Cambodia's courts have found against three defendants in recent weeks, and fined or jailed them for disinformation or defamation.

Human rights groups have complained that the cases, which were brought by the government against perceived critics, are politically motivated.

"Under international law, freedom of expression is to be restricted only in exceptional cases, where clearly necessary and proportionate to the value that the restriction seeks to protect," the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

Opposition parliamentarian Mu Sochua was found guilty Tuesday of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen and fined 16.5 million riel (4,124 dollars).

In June, the editor of an opposition-aligned newspaper was fined and jailed for a year for articles alleging corruption within the government.

And last month, the director of a local cultural organization was fined and sentenced to two years in prison, in absentia, for suggesting that new lighting at Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple could damage the stonework.

The government has consistently denied the charges are politically motivated, saying it is acting only to maintain social order.

Youngsters help out in Cambodia

Bags are packed - the Bideford Methodist Circuit group pictured before leaving for Cambodia.

05 August 2009

WHEN young members of the Bideford Methodist Church Circuit found out that thousands of children in Cambodia were not going to school because their parents could not afford to buy the uniforms, they vowed to do something about it.

They spent almost two years fund-raising and on Sunday eight of them, aged 16-19, left for a two-week adventure during which they will visit children living in poverty and highlight their plight.

With them went youth worker Chris Turner, his wife, Debbs and children Stan, two and four-month-old Solomon,

The young people all raised £1,250 each to travel with UK charity edukid, which works with children suffering from the legacy of war.

They will visit an orphanage, a city slum and stay overnight in a remote village.

During their fortnight's stay, they will be making a film of their experiences, which they will show to 15,000 people at the Greenbelt Festival at the end of August. Plans are in place to put the film into 10,000 schools across the UK.

* You can follow the group's adventures by logging on to this website as they will be sending back regular reports.

Thailand, Cambodia sign pact on transfer of sentenced persons

People's Daily Online

August 05, 2009

Thailand and Cambodia signed a bilateral agreement on the transfer of sentenced persons and co-operation in the enforcement of penal sentences during the 6th Meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation on Wednesday.

The agreement was signed by Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromyaand Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, according to a news report by Thai News Agency.

From Wednesday to Thursday, Thailand has been hosting the 6th Meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation in capital Bangkok.

The two-day meeting will focus on bilateral cooperation, namely education, politics, security, economics, society, science and technology and also incorporate the issues of cooperation in other multilateral frameworks including the ASEAN, the two ministers told a joint press conference.

The Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia has provided a mechanism responsible for supervising and overlooking the overall bilateral relations between the two neighboring countries.

The commission comprises representatives from all governmental agencies of Thailand and Cambodia, who have been tasked with duties in the area of development and promotion of bilateral cooperation.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia, Thailand need to solve border issues with peaceful deal: PM

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday that Cambodia will not use armed forces to deal border issues with Thailand.

"Our policy does not need to use troops to deal the border matters and we need to deal border issues with peaceful deal," he said at a gradation ceremony of a University in Phnom Penh.

Before his departure for Thailand to join the 6th joint committee meeting for bilateral cooperation, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong told reporters on Tuesday, "I will request to Thai side to speed up the measurement of border between the two countries to reach to plant the border markers soon."

Cambodia and Thailand share over 800 km long border. The border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand began after Preah Vihear temple was listed as World Heritage in July last year.

Since then, troops from both sides have deployed and reinforced in the so-called disputed area within the perimeter of some 4.6 square km, but each side is claiming that they are only based on their land.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

Cambodia expects garment exports to drop 30 per cent in 2009

Wed, 05 Aug 2009
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - The Cambodian government expects garment exports will decline by at least 30 per cent this year due mainly to lower demand in the key US market, local media reported Wednesday. "It is clear that this year's garment exports will drop at least 30 per cent because consumers in the United States have cut purchases," Mean Sophea, the head of the Ministry of Commerce's trade preferences department, told The Phnom Penh Post.

Earlier this year the government said it expected garment exports to drop just 5 per cent in 2009.

However, trade union president Chea Mony predicted that exports would fall even further.

"We are concerned that the situation of Cambodia's garment exports will deteriorate even further than that predicted by the [ministry] unless the government can get rid of rampant corruption in the garment sector," said Chea Mony.

Garments are Cambodia's key foreign exchange earner, generating 3.1 billion US dollars last year. Most garments are exported to the US market and the European Union.

Cambodian malaria deaths up 58 per cent

Wed, 05 Aug 2009
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Cambodian officials said the country's malaria death toll rose by 58 per cent in the first six months of this year because of the early onset of the rainy season and delays in distributing mosquito nets, local media reported Wednesday. Doung Socheat, director of the National Center for Parasitology Entomology and Malaria Control, said 103 people had died from malaria from January to June compared with 65 deaths in the same period last year, The Phnom Penh Post reported.

He said 27,105 people had contracted the illness in the first six months of this year, compared with 25,033 in the same period last year.

"This year, we had an early rainy season, and we were a bit late in distributing mosquito nets to people," Doung Socheat said.

The figures came a week after a study revealed an increased resistance to treatment in some malaria strains in Cambodia.

The study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, said the parasites showed resistance to artemisinin, the drug most commonly used to treat malaria.

Khmer Rouge Trials Could Affect Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms Among Cambodian Survivors

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The so-called "Khmer Rouge trials" now underway are likely to have an impact on the mental health of many Cambodians, according to a new study published in the August 5 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on violence and human rights.

"Millions of Cambodians suffered profound trauma during the Khmer Rouge era (1975 to 1979)," according to background information provided by the authors. "It is estimated that between one million and two million people (approximately 20 percent of the Cambodian population) died during that epoch, and millions of survivors were forced into slave labor under harsh conditions." The authors note that many previous studies suggest that the psychological effects among the population include a high prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical disabilities. A joint United Nations-Cambodian tribunal (the "Khmer Rouge trials") began hearings earlier this year to try the senior leadership of the Khmer Rouge.

Jeffrey Sonis, M.D., M.P.H., from the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed data from face-to-face interviews of a national probability sample of 1,017 adult Cambodians to determine the prevalence of PTSD symptoms and disability and associations with perceived justice, desire for revenge and knowledge of and attitudes toward the trials . The population sample included 813 adults older than 35 years who had lived through the Khmer Rouge era and 204 adults ages 18 to 35 years who had not been exposed to the regime. A substantial percentage of the older adults reported being exposed to trauma during the Khmer Rouge era with about half (50.1 percent or 391) telling the interviewers that they had been close to death during that time and 243 respondents (31.4 percent) reported physical or mental torture. The interviews were conducted before the Khmer Rouge trials began.

"The prevalence of current probable PTSD was 11.2 percent overall and 7.9 percent among the younger group and 14.2 percent in the older group," the researchers report. That figure (11.2 percent) is almost five times higher than a current estimated PTSD prevalence figure of 2.3 percent in the United States, according to the researchers.

"Probable PTSD was significantly associated with mental disability (40.2 percent vs. 7.9 percent) and physical disability (39.6 percent vs. 20.1 percent)." More of the respondents in the older group were aware of the Khmer Rouge trials than those in the younger group. "Although Cambodians were hopeful that the trials would promote justice, 87.2 percent (681) of those older than 35 years believed that the trials would create painful memories for them." The researchers also found that respondents with high levels of perceived justice for violations during the Khmer Rouge era were less likely to have probable PTSD.

"The crucial question is whether the Khmer Rouge trials will reduce symptoms of PTSD by increasing feelings of justice or increase PTSD symptoms by reviving traumatic memories of survivors without providing an opportunity to process and reframe these memories." In conclusion the researchers write, "… longitudinal research is needed to determine the impact of the trials on Cambodians' mental health."

What is the prosecution doing in Duch’s trial?

Phnom Penh (Cambodia). 25/01/2007: Nhem En, one of the six photographers at S-21, standing next to Joseph Mussomeli, then U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, during a press conference. The minutes of his statement to the co-Investigating Judges were read in court, without him being summoned. The document was fiercely criticised by the defence as originating from “a man [who] deluded for years some journalists or even some researchers”
©John Vink/Magnum

By Stéphanie Gée

Yet another day that will not stay in the annals of Duch’s trial. After a long morning procedural debate prompted by the co-Prosecutors who disconcerted everyone with their documents, the latter failed to prove that Lak Minh did belong to S-21 staff. Something a civil party lawyer and the accused himself succeeded in doing! Yet, the co-Prosecutors had documents that could have easily brushed aside the doubts expressed by Duch on the previous day. As a final note, the afternoon of Tuesday August 4th was devoted to the tedious reading of minutes of witness interrogations, again submitted to the Chamber by the prosecution. It was hard to grasp the interest of these testimonies in light of their superfluous nature and, for one of them, its sometimes far-fetched character. Why did the Trial Chamber accept them?

The co-Prosecutors’ document mishap
The hearing opened with a confusion. The co-Prosecutors wanted to refer in court to a new document proving that witness Lak Minh worked as an interrogator at S-21. “We do not know which document you want to put before the Chamber,” president Nil Nonn, lost, told them. The Cambodian co-Prosecutor finally produced a reference number, which prompted an immediate reaction from judge Lavergne. He thought it was references to case file 2, in which case, he concluded, “it appears premature to present this document on the screens as of now.”

As his speaking time neared the end, the co-Prosecutor moved to the next question, which was related to an interview he gave in 2002 to the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) and which text he wanted to show the witness. He was very quickly interrupted, this time by Duch’s international co-lawyer. “Once again, the Chamber will note that we have absolutely no information on the professional skills of the person who made this very long interview. We know nothing of the conditions in which this document was established. The only thing we know is that it is absolutely not a legal document, while we do have two legal documents concerning the interrogation of this witness. This witness was heard a first time by the office of the co-Prosecutors […] and he was again heard by the investigators of the co-Investigating Judges. I recall that we are in a court, in a judicial process, and it seems to me more than appropriate to use legal documents rather than an NGO’s documents…” The international co-Prosecutor had already stood up to answer: “Thank you, dear colleague. Yes, we wish to proceed.” The latter was immediately rebuffed by the president: “You cannot take the floor before first asking the Chamber to speak.”

Co-Prosecutor Anees Ahmed argued that the DC-Cam document was “added to the case file” and therefore “once submitted to the Chamber’s attention, it is assumed to have been put before the Chamber. It belongs to Your Honours to determine the probative value of this document when you deliberate.” Judge Cartwright asked him for a list of documents he wanted to put before the Chamber “with all the pertaining reference numbers because, at this point, the situation is somewhat confused.” A few exchanges later, the Chamber accepted that this document be added to the file to serve as a basis for questions asked to the witness, since it concerned him directly. The Cambodian co-Prosecutor resumed the interrogation, referring to the transcript of the interview given to DC-Cam. “Mr. Lak Minh, do you remember the detainees you interrogated when you worked at S-21? […] Do you still remember this document [the interview]?” “No, I do not remember this document and the signature on it is not mine.” The witness did give DC-Cam the name of a prisoner he interrogated, according to the document, but he said he did not remember it. “I have forgotten a little.” However, he accepted to “maintain what he said back then.” In light of the lack of clarifications allowing an assessment of the authenticity of the document, the president asked him to move to the next questions, which the co-Prosecutor had already started doing. Finally, he changed his mind and gave the floor to his international colleague.

The witness’ memory fails...
“You told the co-Investigating Judges that Son Sen would come to S-21 once every month or two months. Is that correct?” “I do not remember things very clearly on this point. I don’t know anymore if he came on a very regular basis. It happened that twelve months had passed before I saw him again…”, the witness answered. In answer to another question, he said that Duch led “maybe every two weeks” political training sessions, which all the interrogators as well as Prey Sar cadres had to attend. “Do you know who interrogated female prisoners?”, the international co-Prosecutor asked him. The answer flew immediately, somewhat missing the spot: “I did not interrogate any!”

“You told the co-Investigating Judges that once you became good at interrogations, you started to receive, and I quote you, ‘good prisoners’,” Anees Ahmed reminded him. “As for expertise in interrogations, I was not an expert because I was new,” the witness defended himself. “Before the co-Investigating Judges, you also said that when they did not succeed in getting confessions from certain prisoners after two or three months, interrogators of a higher level would send them directly to you and you managed to obtain results very quickly. Is that correct?” “I am not sure of that. I only interrogated the prisoners who were sent to me.”

Recorded interrogation sessions
Floor to the civil parties. Ty Srinna, for group 1, reminded him his declarations to the co-Investigating Judges about the making of audio recordings of prisoners’ confessions, a month before Phnom Penh’s fall. Lak Minh maintained his statement and explained that the recording of interrogation sessions also aimed to supervise the interrogators themselves “because they were watched even more than detainees.” Their superiors would thus ensure that they “avoid asking the prisoners tendentious questions,” he added. Yes, when he arrived at S-21, he had to write his own biography. “And once a year, we had to update it.” From the time he joined the interrogation team, the witness claimed he saw Duch “every day.” “Back then, I did not dare to talk to him and I tried to avoid him. You could guess from his face that he was a very severe person.” “Back then, did you believe that [the detainees] really were party enemies?” “I do not think I believe it, but it was the order.”

A witness confirmed in his functions as S-21 interrogator
Silke Studzinsky, for group 2, presented on the screen a list of prisoners’ interrogations on which Lak Minh’s name featured next to a detainee who was interrogated. “I cannot remember whether I interrogated this person… I cannot recall the exact name of the prisoners I interrogated,” the witness eluded. The document provided evidence that he did belong to S-21 staff. The lawyer asked him to read the words written at the top of the document: “hot group.” On the previous day, Lak Minh had said he was not aware of such distinctions between interrogation groups...

A “boring” job at S-21
Now the defence. Lak Minh confirmed to Kar Savuth that his job as guard and interrogator at S-21 was “boring.” “We did not have the freedom to circulate and we had to be very careful because any mistake could be punished. We worked hard, lived in a state of fear and thought that one day, we would end up being killed like the other detainees. However, such was the mission we had been assigned by the higher echelon and therefore, we had to comply and follow the orders.” “There was no choice,” he explained, while he dared to turn his gaze to the defence beach naturally and regularly, unlike his former colleagues who testified previously and often refrained from doing so.

A witness obsessed by the difficult… working conditions at S-21
His international colleague, François Roux, continued: “Did you know that one did not leave S-21 alive?” “I cannot give you any answer regarding the prisoners’ fate because the party imposed secrecy. […] I did not know where they were taken…”, the witness lied awkwardly. Who could he have asked for information, Lak Minh wondered disingenuously, claiming he never discussed this topic with his colleagues. “We did not trust one another and each minded their own business.” Finally, pressured by the lawyer, he conceded he suspected that the detainnes “ended up being killed because the party policy was that any person deemed to be the ‘enemy’ had to be smashed.” The witness lingered on the difficulty of the work carried out by S-21 staff and the Damocles sword that hung over their heads. “Today, do you regret working at S-21?” The witness said so, as if he could not say otherwise. He was not convincing. “The work as guard was horrible and exhausting. We had to patrol for long hours and sometimes, I would bang against the walls. I did not enjoy the work I did at S-21. I regret working there. I regret losing friends and family.”

Duch contributes to shed light on the witness
The accused, already up, put his glasses on. “Yesterday, I told judge Lavergne that I would do some research once I was back in my cell and that I would try to find the list of prisoners who were interrogated. I can now present you the findings of my research.” In the documents he was given by the co-Investigating Judges, he found Lak Minh’s name “in three places” and gave the relevant reference numbers. The witness, he read, thus interrogated a female detainee, deputy director of Office 17, a farmer who came from a cooperative and the head of the propaganda office. Impassive, the accused concluded: “So, there was indeed an interrogator at S-21 whose name was Lak Minh.” He took his glasses off and added solemnly: “What is the truth then? I would like to refer to the Chamber to determine an opinion. I have complete faith in the Chamber’s determination to establish the truth regarding the present testimony.” Lak Minh’s hearing was over.

Laborious and pointless readings of minutes
No more witnesses were called to the stand. Instead, the clerks read the minutes of testimonies given by former S-21 staff members collected by the office of the co-Investigating Judges, because “the Chamber decided not to summon these witnesses to testify,” president Nil Nonn explained. The first was about a man named Khieu Chess, born in 1963 and assigned in 1976 to guard duty, before being sent to work to the rice field. He quickly evoked the purges. The second testimony was from Pes Mat, another teenager, born in 1960, who worked as guard at S-21 from 1976. The only one who seemed to follow these readings was Duch, who made observations regarding specific points in the stories heard.

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 04/08/2009: In the public gallery, many villagers attended the hearing at the ECCC on this day. Inconvenienced by the freezing air-conditioning, many were those who warmed up outside during the break… when they did not leave the gallery during the hearing
©Stéphanie Gée

The third minutes read were those of the very media-savvy Nhem En, born in 1959 and former photographer of the Angkar. He referred to an internship carried out, under Khmer Rouge supervision, in China with other children. There, he specified, he “was the best at folding blankets,” a test to determine if young children were “rigorous.” He was trained in photography and was led to photograph the regime top leaders during meetings, delegations visiting Democratic Kampuchea or ongoing projects. He used to accompany “Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Son Sen, sometimes Khieu Samphan.” He worked at S-21 in early 1977, he said. “Duch was very strict and I was not allowed to make any mistakes […]. It was a question of life and death.” He said he was among six photographers who took photographs of most prisoners when they arrived at S-21. According to him, “Son Sen came to S-21 once a week.” At S-21, he photographed Vietnamese “who arrived in their uniforms.” He rejected the hypothesis of a staging behind the prisoners wearing military uniforms because, he argued, “Khmer Rouge did not like to pretend.” He was in direct contact with Duch when the latter called him “to come and take pictures of his family.” And as a coincidence, while he was passing by on his bicycle, he saw the accused “beat up a prisoner in front of Tuol Sleng.”

The escalation in witnesses did not bring anything to the debates and lost the trial’s momentum.

The defence contests the testimony of photographer Nhem En
Co-prosecutors and civil party lawyers had no observation to make regarding this testimony, but the defence did. “Please allow me […] to say that our judicial process deserves better than this kind of testimony. I still don’t understand how the co-Prosecutors could have put this witness on their list and I thank the Chamber for sparing us from having to listen for hours to this man, whom we now know has tried to auction, he said, Pol Pot’s sandals for 500,000 dollars. This man has deluded for years some journalists, even some researchers. I do not think he deserves any further comment.” In the name of the defence, François Roux clarified for the judges he did not object to the statement and accepted its inclusion in the case file, but that he contested it strongly on the substance.

Following him, Duch hammered his point: “About what [Nhem En] said concerning his activity as a photographer at S-21, there are a few gaps but on the whole, his testimony is accurate. However, what he said on his trip to China, that is completely fabricated. The truth is that in 1976, Pol Pot sent his nephew to study photography in China […] and Nhem En was not part of the trip. He was the son of a S-21 staff member and he was not authorised to take pictures outside of S-21. […] Nhem En is too proud when he says he studied in China and he was a good photographer and able to make movies. As for his claim he came to take pictures of my family, that is not true. I had my own camera, which I used to take photographs of my own family without Nhem En’s help.”

Khmer Rouge Trials Offer Baseline Study For Mental Health Impact To A Society Of War Crimes Tribunal

These skulls, from victims of the Khmer Rouge, are on display in a Buddhist stupa at Choeung Ek, a mass burial site commonly known as one of "the killing fields." (Credit: Photo by Katie O'Brien, UNC School of Medicine)

ScienceDaily (Aug. 4, 2009) — As leaders of the former Khmer Rouge regime testify in a human rights tribunal, in harrowing detail, for the killing of more than a million Cambodians from 1975 to 1979 a central medical question remains unanswered: will the trials help a society heal or exacerbate the lingering affects of widespread trauma?

A new study offers insight, but sustains the paradox: more than 75 percent of Cambodians believe the Khmer Rouge trials, formally called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, will provide justice and promote reconciliation, but more than 87 percent of people old enough to remember the torture and murder during the Khmer Rouge era say the trials will rekindle "painful memories."

"Cambodians have high hopes that the Khmer Rouge trials will deliver justice. However, they also have great fears of revisiting the past," says Jeffrey Sonis, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor in the departments of Social Medicine and Family Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, lead author of the study that appears in the Aug. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"We just don't know how tribunals affect a society, whether they increase mental and physical disabilities or relieve them," Sonis says. Sonis and colleagues are now conducting a longitudinal study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, to measure the effects of the trials on Cambodians over time.

Preparation for the trials, co-sponsored by the Cambodian government and the United Nations, began in 2006, 26 years after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge under its leader, Pol Pot. The first public trial, of Kaing Guek Eav, leader of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands were tortured and killed, began earlier this year. Accounts of the genocide estimate between 1 million and 2 million people were killed to create an "agrarian collectivism" a communist concept for an ideal society.

Between December 2006 and August 2007 Sonis and an international team of colleagues, including researchers from the Center for Advanced Study in Phnom Penh, conducted a national survey of more than 1,000 Cambodians age 18 and older; 813 were 35 and older and would have been at least 3 years old when the killings began.

More than 14 percent of respondents over age 35, and 7.9 percent of people 18 to 35, suffered from "probable postraumatic stress disorder" (respondents met criteria on a common questionnaire, but did not receive an official clinical diagnosis), which resulted in significant rates of mental and physical disabilities. Previous studies have reported higher rates of PTSD in Cambodians, but were mostly conducted among Cambodia refugees. The rate (11 percent) of probable PTSD among all Cambodians over the age of 18 was more than 5 times the rate among U.S. adults, based on the National Comorbidity Survey.

Among the older group, half said they were close to death during the Khmer Rouge era and 31 percent reported physical or mental torture.

Respondents who did not believe justice had been served, up to the time of the survey, and those who felt the need for revenge were more likely to have PTSD. Also, people who had more knowledge of the trial had higher rates of PTSD. Yet most Cambodians had highly positive attitudes about the trials.

Another paradox emerged from the respondents: Almost half of the respondents in this overwhelmingly Buddhist country thought the trials "go against the teachings of Buddha." However, when asked about attitudes toward the Khmer Rouge, 63 percent of respondents strongly agreed, and 21 percent agreed with the statement, "I would like to make them suffer."

Tribunals to assess crimes of war and crimes against humanity are becoming more common. In June, Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, answered questions in an international courtroom in Paris about his alleged role in genocide in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a UN-sponsored trial, has been underway since 1993 and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since 1995. The Nuremberg Trials is perhaps the most well known.

The Khmer Rouge trials offer the opportunity to better gauge the efficacy of these trials, and those lessons hold relevance across a spectrum of injustice.

"The larger question raised by our study is whether attempts to promote justice for survivors of violence – whether en masse or inflicted by one individual to another – can help lessen its psychological toll," Sonis says. "We simply don't know the answers yet."

Cambodia's poorest to be supported through a new food security and social safety net program

Source: The World Bank Group

Date: 04 Aug 2009

Phnom Penh, August 4, 2009 – Today the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the World Bank signed a US$ 13 million agreement to support Cambodia's poorest and most vulnerable people by strengthening food security and social safety nets.

The World Bank has approved the Smallholder Agriculture and Social Protection Development Policy Operation to support the efforts of the Government of Cambodia to mitigate the combined impacts of the global food price and economic crises. The program aims to boost food security for poor households and expand safety net support.

"Even though Cambodia is a rice exporter, the poor are highly vulnerable to high food prices and it was not clear that smallholder farmers had the needed support for them to take advantage of higher prices to produce more," said Annette Dixon, World Bank Country Director. "We hope that this operation will reinforce the excellent work of other programs from Government, NGOs and donors supporting agriculture and social protection in Cambodia. It will also help the poor to improve their agricultural production and access to market, and to protect the most vulnerable group through better policies."

In particular, the program sets out to ensure better oversight and regulation of agricultural inputs such as fertilizer and seeds to improve food productivity at the small farm level. It will also accelerate the registration of farmers' groups so that individual farmers can better access credit and marketing opportunities for their crops. At the same time, the program will improve targeting of the country's social protection systems to reach the country's neediest people.

The US$13 million DPO is made up of an $8 million grant from the Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP) and a $5 million credit from IDA, the World Bank's fund for low income countries. The GFRP, to which the Australian Government was a significant contributor, is managed by the World Bank and provides financial and technical support to countries affected by the global food crisis.

The Australian Government, through AusAID, is contributing $AUD 2.8 million for analytical and capacity building support and the design and evaluation of pilot activities to support the program. "We support the Cambodian Government's focus on strengthening services for farmers - to increase productivity and also to combat poverty. The supply of better seeds and fertilizer and ensuring social safety net help reaches the poorest of the poor are welcome, concrete steps by the Royal Government, along with more support for farmer associations," said Margaret Adamson, Australian Ambassador to Cambodia.


World Bank, Phnom Penh: Bou Saroeun (855) 12-217-301;

Australian Embassy, Phnom Penh: Lachlan Pontifex (855) 12-900-911

Cambodia, Thailand to conduct joint border patrols


The armies of Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to conduct joint patrols along the two countries common border following their recent meeting.

Cambodian newspapers said on August 4 that the meeting took place immediately after Thailand had appointed General Srey Duk as the new commander of the areas where Thailand borders with Cambodia.

According to General Srey Duk, both parties have agreed to maintain friendship between military units stationed on the border and increase bilateral meetings to nurture a better understanding.

Sochua guilty of defamation

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Lawmaker Mu Sochua (fourth from left) and supporters, including opposition leader Sam Rainsy (far right), clash with police following her court hearing Tuesday.

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
Meas Sokchea and Sebastian Strangio

OPPOSITION lawmaker Mu Sochua was convicted Tuesday of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen, prompting her to brand the decision as a "political game" that has cast Cambodia's judicial system "into darkness".

In a hearing on Tuesday, which was closed to the press, presiding judge Sem Sakola ordered the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian to pay 8.5 million riels (US$2,028) in fines and 8 million riels ($1,909) in compensation to the prime minister.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Mu Sochua remained defiant, saying the verdict was based on a "politician's order" and would not succeed in silencing her dissent.

"I cannot accept this decision," she said. "It is clear that this decision was based on political interests, not on the law."

The Kampot province lawmaker, who faced the court without legal representation after SRP lawyer Kong Sam Onn resigned his post after facing defamation charges himself and defected to the ruling party in June, said she refused to pay the fines levied by the court and vowed to continue her fight for justice.

She added: "As a national and international principle, all classes of people must be judged by an independent court that is unbiased and not related to any political power."

Despite past suggestions that the SRP would pay the fine on Mu Sochua's behalf, SRP President Sam Rainsy told reporters that the party would "stand behind" her stance on the issue.

The verdict brings to a close a four-month standoff between the two politicians, which began following a speech Hun Sen made in Kampot province on April 4. Mu Sochua alleged that the premier made derogatory references to her, prompting her to file defamation charges against him.

Hun Sen's lawyers countersued, and Mu Sochua's case was dismissed June 10 by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Hun Sen's lawyer Ky Tech did not comment in detail on the verdict but said that if Mu Sochua did not pay her fines within a month, she would face further action.

"If one party does not pay the fine, my party will ask the court to enforce its decision, and if that party still doesn't pay, that party will be forced by the court," he said.

Tuesday's conviction provoked a fresh wave of concerns from rights groups that the government is using the judiciary to suppress outspoken critics.

"This morning's verdict was predictably unjust and shows yet again how the courts are controlled by the government and used as a weapon against its political opponents," Naly Pilorge, director of local rights group Licadho, said in a statement Tuesday.

"This verdict is a significant blow to freedom of expression and will have serious ramifications on the ability of National Assembly members to publicly speak their minds."

Sara Colm, a researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch, said that Tuesday's verdict was a "big step" backwards, but was only the latest chapter in the government's ongoing attempt to silence its opponents.

"The shrinking of the democratic space in Cambodia goes in cycles, and this is one of the more serious reversals that we've seen," she said.

In the context of the spate of other lawsuits that have been filed against government critics and journalists, together with targeted violence over the years, she said, the verdict would send a "chilling message to people who would otherwise speak out".

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Anti-riot police clash with opposition party supporters as they attempt to march to Sam Rainsy Party headquarters following SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua's court hearing Tuesday.

Excessive violence
Following the verdict, anti-riot police attempted to prevent Mu Sochua, opposition lawmakers and other supporters from marching from the court to the SRP's headquarters on Sothearos Boulevard.

Naly Pilorge said there were at least eight attempts to halt the march, and that officers repeatedly directed cars and motorbikes to drive through the protesters, threatening serious injuries.

The Licadho statement also claimed that two men were arrested during the march, one of whom was kicked in the groin as he was led away by police.

Though the march was unplanned, Naly Pilorge said, the number of police at the court was an indication that the use of force was "deliberate".

Ho Sey Rin, an SRP supporter who joined the march, told the Post he was manhandled by police as they tried to intervene.

"I told the police not to clash with the people's representatives, but they pulled me into their group and choked me until I nearly passed out," he said.

Theary Seng, the former executive director of the Centre for Social Development who also had several run-ins with police, said officers set out to "create chaos" in a bid to break up the march.

"All they know is violence, [so] they wanted to exact violence," she said.

"If the leaders want the people to love and respect them, they should not use violence."

Phnom Penh police Chief Touch Naruth could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Mok Chito, head of the criminal police department at the Ministry of Interior, said that none of his men were involved in the attempts to block the march.

IN DATES Sochua Saga

- April 4 Hun Sen makes a speech in Kampot province, in which he refers to the province’s female MP as a cheung klang, or “strong leg”, although Mu Sochua was not mentioned by name.
- April 23 Mu Sochua announces her plan to sue Hun Sen for defamation over the comments. Hun Sen’s lawyers say they will countersue.
- May 1 Lawyers for Hun Sen file complaints against SRP lawyer Kong Sam Onn in the Cambodian Bar Association
- June 10 Phnom Penh Municipal Court dismisses Mu Sochua’s lawsuit against the prime minister.
- June 22 Mu Sochua is stripped of her parliamentary immunity by a National Assembly vote.
- July 7 Lawyer Kong Sam Onn resigns from the SRP and apologises to Hun Sen.
- July 24 Mu Sochua appears in court to face the charges.
- August 4 The court finds Mu Sochua guilty of defaming Hun Sen, fining her a total of 16.5 million riels (US$3,937).

Pageant receives overseas support

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
Sebastian Strangio

THE organiser of the banned Miss Landmine beauty pageant says the event has received strong international support, including an email petition campaigning for the event's reinstatement.

The Social Affairs Ministry ordered the event shut down Sunday, saying it would affect the "honour and dignity" of the female mine victims taking part.

Organiser Morten Traavik said Tuesday he had received a flood of emails in support, and that an online campaign had been launched in the US, calling for the ban to be lifted.

"I think it shows that the world is watching," he said. "What this whole debacle shows is ... that the Cambodian government is not ready to elevate its disabled community to the status of the rest of the population."

In a letter to Ith Sam Heng, minister of social affairs, Bali, Indonesia, resident Michael Prentice, who was born with an atrophied leg, called for the ministry to rescind the ban.

"I have looked on YouTube to see images of past pageants, and I do not find them offensive or degrading," he wrote.

"Hopefully you will reconsider your decision and allow these women to show their strength, spirit, talents and beauty to the world. We disabled are able to make decisions regarding our welfare."

Ith Sam Heng could not be reached for comment Tuesday.


S-21 ex-interrogator says work there was 'too hard', 'boring'

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
Cheang Sokha

Court hears interviews of three witnesses who were unable to attend, including photographer.

A FORMER interrogator at S-21 prison told the war crimes court Tuesday that as well as being "horrendous and exhausting", his job during the regime was "boring".

Lach Mean, who was called to testify against his former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, denied getting any satisfaction from his job.

"I think it is hard for me to say that I was satisfied with the work of that place because it was kind of a boring job," he said.

"We worked too hard, and we lived in fear, and we thought that one day we would end up being killed like other detainees."

Lach Mean, now a 52-year-old farmer in Kampong Chhnang province, also expressed his regret for having worked at the alleged torture centre.

"The work [at S-21] was horrendous and exhausting; we worked on patrol long hours," he said. "I lost contact with friends and family, and I did not know where my family members were sent."

Speaking on his second day of testimony, he said that during his time at the prison he also noticed prisoners were catching dysentery and dying.

Nhem En testimony read
An investigative interview with former S-21 photographer Nhem En, 49, currently the deputy governor of former Khmer Rouge stronghold Anlong Veng district in Oddar Meanchey province, was also read out before the chamber Tuesday.

The former photographer was one of three witnesses who were unable to attend and whose statements were read out in their absence.

Duch called Nhem En's statement a "lie" and said he embellished his role at the prison and "boasted" about it.

"He was only a small photographer at the time," Duch said.



The vast majority of Cambodian adults believe the Khmer Rouge trials will create painful memories for them in addition to providing justice, according to a recent study on the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder. Conducted by the University of North Carolina, the study analysed data from 1,017 randomly selected adults. “Although Cambodians were hopeful that the trials would promote justice, 87.2 percent (681) of those older than 35 years believed that the trials would create painful memories for them,” researchers said in a press statement Tuesday. The study, which will be published in the August edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, concludes that further research needs to be taken to fully assess the impact of the trials on Cambodians’ mental health. “The crucial question is whether the Khmer Rouge trials will ... increase PTSD symptoms by reviving traumatic memories of survivors without providing an opportunity to process and reframe these memories.”


African church sting 'racist': pastor

Pastor Prince Lenee Lahben places his hand on the Bible on Tuesday at Christ Embassy, a church raided by police on Sunday.

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
Christopher Shay And Vong Sokheng

Members of mostly Nigerian church say government discrimination makes it hard for them to obtain or extend visas, after armed police entered a church and detained congregants.

AFRICAN churchgoers detained during a police raid Sunday on the Christ Embassy, a Phnom Penh house of worship, condemned the action as "racist" on Tuesday.

"We're not illegal here," Pastor Prince Lenee Lahben said.

"The police were pushing people into cars and bullying people as if we were criminals, as we were nobody.... This is pure racism."

After receiving a noise complaint from the community in Tuol Svay Prey commune, Chamkarmon district, about 25 armed police sealed off the road and entered the church at around 11am, just as Lahben was taking the pulpit, three church members who were present told the Post.

In the last year, Christ Embassy had sealed off all windows in the church to minimise sound carrying into the neighbourhood, Lahben said.

In the church, the authorities demanded to the see everyone's passport and visa, but none of the church members had brought them, they said.

The police are good people, but there is a lack of understanding.

After forcibly removing the Cambodians from the premises, police detained the congregation for three to five hours until family or friends could bring their documents to them, according to Lahben.

Fifteen churchgoers who have not been able to produce a passport and valid visa remain in custody at the Phnom Penh Municipal Police Station.

If they cannot produce documentation in the next five days, they will be deported, Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Mom Sitha said.

Deputy Municipal Police Chief Hy Pru said the police had processed 57 foreigners from the Christ Embassy, 30 of whom were released on the Sunday. Hy Pru declined to elaborate further on the operation.

The police sting on a house of worship, followed by the detention of legal residents, angered many in Cambodia's African community.

"It's embarrassing that everybody was held hostage," said Gabriel Ken Gadaffi, the president of the Nigerian Community Association in Cambodia and a freelance sports writer for the Post.

Gadaffi blamed discriminatory policies for forcing many Nigerians into overstaying their visas, while others said that officials refuse to renew legitimate visas.

"The immigration officials keep assuring me that they don't want to discriminate, but their actions say otherwise," Gadaffi said.

"If this police action is strictly an immigration issue, then they have to deal with it at arrival into the country."

Visa problems
One member of the Christ Embassy Church told the Post from the police station that he did not intend to overstay his visa, but the authorities had refused to extend it.

"I was fighting to renew my visa before it happened," said Frank, 50, declining to give his family name. "My original visa was for six days. I went to renew it but they would not and didn't say why. Later, they said it would cost US$500."

Immigration officials say that "suspicious" people, including those from some African nations, are issued visas for seven days or less.

Despite Frank's anger that the police invaded a house of worship, he said he respects the police and that they have treated the church members at the police station well.

"The police are good people," Frank said, "but there is a lack of understanding. I do not blame them."

Lahben said that although many in his congregation no longer feel safe at church, he would hold services as normal.

This week, he said he would preach about a special topic to help his church move forward after Sunday's ordeal: forgiveness.

Workshop aims to net UNESCO temple bid

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
Vong Sokheng

The government plans to hold a three-day workshop starting Sunday in Banteay Meanchey province with the goal of securing a place for Banteay Chhmar temple on the UNESCO World Heritage List, an official from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts said.

"We don't yet know when the temple might be listed as a World Heritage site, but we will study the issue, and we expect to develop a plan at the workshop for the UNESCO application," Him Chhem, minister of culture and fine arts, told the Post on Tuesday.

Ung Oeun, governor of Banteay Meanchey province, said he expected around 150 government offcials and UNESCO experts to visit Banteay Chhmar temple on Saturday in advance of the workshop.

Temple damaged by looting
Banteay Chhmar is located about 20 kilometres from the Thai border and has suffered extensive damage from looting in the past several years.

Thailand recently returned seven stolen artefacts from the temple, which were put on display at the National Museum in April.

Ung Oeun said that the Banteay Chhmar site was still endangered, and that government officials hope to work with UNESCO to better preserve it.

Intl court to hear local voices

Photo by: Photo Supplied
Caitlin Wiesen of UNDP talks at a press conference on Tuesday in

bali, indonesia

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009

Two Cambodians are to testify as expert and witness at the Southeast Asia Court of Women on HIV, Human Trafficking and Migration in Bali, Indonesia


TWO Cambodian women are to testify before a jury of experts on Thursday at a regional court created to give a voice to survivors of human trafficking.

Wanta, a young Cambodian woman now living with HIV in Phnom Penh, and fellow Cambodian survivor Choun Minea will join more than 20 other women from the region to share their experiences at The Southeast Asia Court of Women on HIV, Human Trafficking and Migration, which will meet at the Bali International Convention Centre.

Wanta, who has declined to give her real name, will tell of her experiences being trafficked into bonded sex work in Malaysia. Her testimony will form part of a session looking at the human rights of vulnerable communities, one of four to be held at the day-long court sitting.

Fellow Cambodian survivor Choun Minea will testify during a session on the public health impact of anti-trafficking legislation, at which Vichuta Ly, from Cambodia's Legal Service for Children and Women, will also appear as an expert witness.

Other sessions will look at the roots of trafficking, and the resistance and survival strategies of women affected.

Courts of Women International Coordinator Corinne Kumar said the court, which was established in 1991 by the Asian Women's Human Rights Council to look at women's rights and other notions of justice for women, was designed to give a voice to victims and survivors of violence.

"Violence is increasing, but it is also intensifying, and by that I mean the forms are getting more brutal," she said. However, violence against women tended to be seen as personal and was often met with "a great silence", she added. "The Courts of Women is a public forum where personal violence is given its public face, and therefore, its political significance," Kumar said.

"Women will bring testimonies of pain and suffering; women will tell their stories; but women will also bring testimonies that are analytical, testimonies of resistance, testimonies celebrating who these women are."

Caitlin Wiesen, regional HIV/AIDS practice leader and programme coordinator for the UN Development Programme, a co-organiser of the court, said it was critical that survivors' voices were heard when responses to trafficking and HIV risk were formulated.

She singled out the risk of brothel raids driving places of sex work underground, putting workers and trafficked women beyond the reach of aid groups.

"It is often the women who are in sex work who can help identify which women have been trafficked and who are the traffickers," she said. "If you make it dangerous for women in sex work to operate and push them underground, you lose that hope of them helping to find the women who have been trafficked."

Rights groups in Cambodia have repeatedly condemned police crackdowns on brothels and street sweeps of prostitutes under new anti-trafficking laws, which they say have driven the sector underground, harmed HIV-prevention campaigns and exposed women to violence at the hands of police.

Growing risk
Wiesen added that the global economic crisis had raised the risk of trafficking and HIV for women and girls in the region, where an estimated 250,000 women and girls are trafficked every year for sex work, sexual slavery and bonded labour - or one-third of global human trafficking.

"Human trafficking often starts with the search for work from people who are poor and looking for livelihood options either in big cities or overseas," she said, citing a recent report from the UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking that showed the financial crisis had led to an increase in women entering the sex trade in Cambodia, driven primarily by declining working conditions.

"The timing of this court is absolutely critical," she said. "With the economic crisis many countries are laying of workers and cutting back formal migration. The only options that remain are informal, unsafe channels of movement that put women and girls in particular at great risk of trafficking and at great risk of HIV."

Wiesen cited a recent Harvard University study of trafficked women in Nepal that found that 20 percent of survivors were HIV-positive. A new UNDP and Harvard University report set to be released at the Ninth International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, which follows the court from August 9 to 13 in Bali, Indonesia, will also show that trafficked women and girls in Southeast Asia are at heightened risk of HIV infection, she added.

"The very factors that make women vulnerable to trafficking also make them vulnerable to HIV infection," she said, citing poverty, unsafe and forced migration, gender inequalities, lack of sexual and economic autonomy, violence within families and outside families, and insufficient access to information and services.

R'kiri rights workers spurn court summons

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
Chrann Chamroeun

THE Ratanakkiri provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc did not appear for questioning Tuesday regarding incitement allegations levied against him, and said he did not believe it would be necessary to do so until he was formally charged.

The questioning was to be part of the investigation of a complaint filed by the local developer DM Group against Phnong minority villagers involved in a dispute over 200 hectares of community forests and 100 hectares of farmland. Pen Bonnar has been advocating on the villagers' behalf.

Pen Bonnar told the Post that he and his assistant, Chhay Ty, who was also summonsed to the provincial court, were busy attending a conference in Phnom Penh on Tuesday and had asked to have the session rescheduled to Thursday.

He added that he did not think it necessary to appear for the questioning and might ultimately end up sending a lawyer in his stead.

"I have not been charged with anything yet, so it is not necessary for me to be questioned at the court," he said.

Malaria cases up with early rainy season

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
Sam Rith
Officials say slow distribution of nets another reason for spike.

AN EARLY rainy season and delays in the distribution of mosquito nets are to blame for an increase in the number of Cambodians infected with malaria, a top official at the government's malaria centre said Tuesday.

Duong Socheat, director of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, said that in the first six months of this year, 27,105 people caught the disease, of whom 103 died. In comparison, 25,033 were infected during the same period last year, of whom 65 died.

"This year we had an early rainy season and we were a bit late in distributing mosquito nets to people," he said, adding that another possibility for the jump was that more people were moving to different provinces for work, and that those coming from areas where there was a low infection rate were not used to guarding themselves against the disease.

Hing Phan Sakunthea, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial referral hospital, said that for the first six months of the year, 295 people had been diagnosed with the infection at his hospital, an increase of around 20 percent from the same period last year. He said 11 of those died.

Duong Socheat said his centre distributed 400,000 bed nets to officials this year, but that only about 200,000 had reached people on the ground.

Police Blotter: 05 Aug 2009

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
Kong Sokun

Tuol Kork district police on Sunday arrested a skinny beggar who was posing as a one-legged man while soliciting charity from passersby in the district's Phsar Depo I commune. The man was identified as Ros Ren, 25, who resides in Daun Penh district. Police said the conman pretended to be disabled by bending his left leg behind him and covering it with his trousers. After his arrest, Ros Ren admitted that he had been perpetrating the act for a year and was earning between 10,000 riels (about US$2.50) and 20,000 riels (US$5) per day. The arrest was part of City Hall's campaign to arrest beggars and vagrants to maintain public order in the capital.

A 24-year-old man was hacked to death Monday by an unidentified person over what police said was possibly an adultery-related dispute. The violence took place in Kampong Cham's Thbong Khnom district. Police identified the victim as Chhun Pich, who was chopped several times in the head, neck, cheek and hands while sleeping alone in his wooden house in Chub commune. Nau Dina, a provincial police officer, said the victim had twice brought the wife of another man back to his house, and that he was slain after allegations of adultery spread.

A man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of raping a 39-year-old widow on Thursday night in Battambang's Bavel district. Police identified the sex maniac as a 41-year-old who resides in the province's Kdol Ta Hen commune. The victim told police that the man used his hands to shut her mouth in an attempt to rape her while she was home alone. After the arrest, the suspect admitted his guilt.

A heavily intoxicated American man threw a television, a refrigerator and two vases from the second floor of the Asia Hotel in Daun Penh district on Monday at 6am. The man, 31, has been sent to the Ministry of Interior for questioning.

A Toyota Land Cruiser struck a motorbike carrying five passengers in Siem Reap city on Sunday, killing two and injuring the three others. Police managed to catch up with the Land Cruiser, but the driver and the passengers in the vehicle fought the officers and managed to escape.

Officials say illegal fishing down from last year due to education

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Fishermen ply the waters of the Tonle Sap river on Tuesday in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
Khouth Sophak Chakrya

But fishermen say statistics don't account for corruption among police.

THE Ministry of Agriculture said Tuesday that offseason illegal fishing has declined compared with last year's numbers - a direct result, it said, of increased education and training.

Fishing is banned in Cambodia between June 1 and October 1 in order to allow fish to breed. "Fishermen now understand the impact of overfishing during the spawning season," said Nao Thuok, director of the ministry's Fisheries Administration.

One illegal fishing method used year-round involves connecting cables to a portable battery. The cables are then submerged in water, electrocuting all marine life. Some 2,249 people have voluntarily surrendered their cables so far this year, Nao Thuok said. Fisheries authorities have also collected 57,621 metres of fishing nets and 719 trawling nets.

Since the ban began in June, fisheries authorities have reported 1,494 cases of illegal fishing, compared with "around 2,000" for the same period last year, Nao Thuok said.

But there are doubts about whether the figures are accurate. Ek Chamroeun, Tonle Sap area coordinator for environmental group Fisheries Action Coalition Team, accused police and fisheries authorities of taking bribes from people fishing illegally.

Ban Tign, a 20-year-old fisherman from Pursat, said police who confiscate fishing boats will typically return the boats if their owners pay a bribe.

"On Sunday, they arrested me and confiscated my two trawling boats, but they returned one boat to me for US$150," he said.

Garment exports to fall 30pc in 2009, govt says

Continuing depressed demand in Cambodia's key garment export market the United
States is set to leave the industry in severe decline this year, the government says.

Garment exports from Cambodia will definitely drop this year.

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
Chun Sophal

Ministry of Commerce says impact of global economic crisis means Kingdom’s main export industry will suffer this year

THE Ministry of Commerce estimates that garment exports will drop "at least" 30 percent this year, a far larger decline than the 5-percent drop estimated previously.

Mean Sophea, the director of the ministry's trade preferences systems department, told the Post on Monday that a lower volume of purchases by consumers in the United States - the largest export market - had caused the revision.

Mean Sophea said the global economic crisis had taught US consumers to shop more economically, which dampened demand for Cambodia's garment exports.

"It is clear that this year's garment exports will drop at least 30 percent because consumers in the United States have cut purchases," he said.

The government last month reported that Cambodia exported US$909 million worth of garments in the first five months of 2009, down 20 percent from the same period last year.

Kaing Monika, the external affairs manager at the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, an industry body, said Tuesday that putting a figure on the decline is very difficult since the US garment market remains unstable.

Kaing Monika said Cambodian manufacturers must respond by being more competitive on pricing if they want to prevent competitors such as Bangladesh and Vietnam from taking market share in the US.

"Garment exports from Cambodia will definitely drop this year, but I believe that decline will be less than 30 percent because people will buy more clothes during [the Western] New Year," he said.

However, the president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Chea Mony, predicted the situation would worsen, pointing to the fact that 78 factories have closed this year alone, and that another 30 have suspended operations due to a lack of orders.

"We are concerned that the situation of Cambodia's garment exports will deteriorate even further than that predicted by the [ministry] unless the government can get rid of the rampant corruption in the garment sector," he said.

IFC to sign deal on investment fund soon

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
Steve Finch

THE International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, said it will shortly sign a deal with Singaporean partners to set up a Cambodian-Laotian investment fund.

IFC resident representative Julia Brickell said on Monday by email that the deal should be signed in the coming quarter.

The IFC Web site states that the Singaporean partners that will manage the fund are Emerging Market Investments (EMI) Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Emerging Markets Group Holding, and Aureos Capital Limited.

Joshua Morris, managing director of Phnom Penh-based EMI, said an agreement on the fund could be signed as soon as next month. He said investors are being sought for the fund, which has an initial target of US$20 million in capital. That could be extended to $30 million, added.

"Most of the fund would ultimately be targeted at Cambodia," Morris said, explaining that the difference in investment weight is due to Cambodia's larger economy. He would not provide the identities of other investors before an agreement.

The IFC's Web site disclosed that it will invest up to $4 million in the fund, which will target small and medium-sized businesses in both countries "with a preliminary focus on business services, agribusiness and microfinance".

It adds that the fund will be established in Luxembourg and registered in Singapore. The fund management will be based in Phnom Penh with a consulting company operating in Vientiane, it said.

Cambodian firm buys, dries maize for export

The Phnom Penh Post
Wednesday, 05 August 2009
May Kunmakara

Phou Puy, of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association, says his company is buying 500 tonnes of corn a day for sale to Vietnam.

A LOCAL company owned by the head of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association said it is buying up to 500 tonnes of maize daily from farmers in western Cambodia to dry for export to the region.

Phou Puy, the president of the CRMA and head of Bai Tang (Kampuchea) Co Ltd, said Tuesday his purchases are helping domestic farmers that have suffered from a lack of markets for their excess maize.

"I am buying between 300 and 500 tonnes of corn daily from two provinces, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey," he said. "This is the first time I have bought corn to dry and export to Vietnam."

Phou Puy said the price of corn is down sharply this year. Corn kernels are selling for around 4 baht (US$0.12) per kilogram, and corn on the cob for 2.5 baht per kilogram.

"Price fluctuations are normal in a free market, so we can't set prices, as it depends on demand," he explained Tuesday. "But the current low prices are hurting farmers' incomes because they spent a lot on their crops, but can only sell them for a low price."

[The ministry] discussed with Vietnam to buy our corn, and we will take a delegation there shortly.

A lack of sufficient capital means he is unable to buy the entire excess crop.

"So I am buying from them, drying the corn, and selling it to other businessmen who export to Vietnam for up to 6 baht a kilogram," he said.

"Then I use that money to buy more."

Heng Chamnab, a corn farmer from Ou Thom village in Battambang province with 50 hectares of land, told the Post on Tuesday that he has struggled to find a market for his crop.

"The price is much lower than last season - at that point we were getting 5 baht for a kilogram of corn on the cob," he said.

Heng Chamnab blamed the slowdown in the global economy for the lower prices experienced in Cambodia.

He said revenues are only slightly above his expenses, but that his sole option is to sell 20-30 tonnes of corn to Thai brokers at a low price.

"We had to pay 100 baht per kilogram for poor-quality seeds, or 150 baht for high-quality seeds," he explained. "Then there were costs of hiring labour, transportation and other input costs - however, this selling price is too low."

Ministry seeks markets
Mao Thora, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said the ministry has been working to find new markets for agricultural products, most of which are sold to the Kingdom's neighbours.

"[The ministry] discussed with Vietnam to buy our corn, and we will take a delegation there shortly to seek trade partners," he said.

"We also want to deal with other nations, but many of them require the crops to meet certain standards, which is why we are forced to rely on the neighbouring markets."