Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Abhisit hits back over dispute

Sep 29, 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK - PRIME Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva hit out at his Cambodian counterpart on Tuesday for saying that Thai trespassers would be shot near a disputed temple on their border.

Cambodian premier Hun Sen said on Monday that he had ordered his troops to shoot anyone from neighbouring Thailand who crossed onto land around the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

Mr Hun Sen's comments came a little over a week after Thai protesters rallied near the ancient temple, the site of clashes that have killed seven soldiers since tensions flared last year.

'Whenever he gives interviews to the foreign media he always has this attitude where he wants to make headlines,' Mr Abhisit told reporters of his opposite number.

He said Mr Hun Sen wanted to 'retaliate' for the Thai protests on September 19. But he insisted that Thailand still wanted to find a 'peaceful' solution to the dispute over the temple through a joint border commission set up by the two countries.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over the land around Preah Vihear for decades, but tensions spilled over into violence last July when the temple was granted UNESCO World Heritage status. The World Court ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia.

Mr Abhisit said he had raised the issue with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during the UN General Assembly in New York last week, saying that UNESCO had worsened tensions between Thailand and Cambodia.

He also sought to reassure protesters who rallied at the temple earlier this month and who accused the government of failing to defend its claims over the disputed 4.6 square kilometres of land around Preah Vihear.

'Thai people have nothing to worry about. We will assert our rights,' Mr Abhisit said.

Soldiers from Cambodia and Thailand continue to patrol the area, with the last gunbattle near the temple area in April leaving three people dead. The border between the two countries has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia. -- AFP

Joint border panel to solve border dispute : Anupong

Tue, September 29, 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Any Cambodians trespassing into Thai soil to be treated in accordance with human rights standard : Army chief

Anupong declined to comment on news report that quoted Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen as saying that Cambodia soldiers are ordered to shoot any Thai crossing the border to the disputed area near the temple.

Hun Sen said the four square kilometres near the temple belongs to Cambodia, not a disputed land pending demacation.

The Cambodian leader also said that if Thai officials negotiating the border demarcation line present their own maps during bilateral talks, Cambodian officials 'should tear them up or walk out.'

Gen Anupong said that all the border talks would be the responsibility of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission for the Demarcation of Land Boundararies.

He said Thailand and Cambodia had agreed earlier on the principle to use the talks to solve the problem not to use forces to end the disputes and the Thai government is still adhere to the principle.

Army chief Gen Anupong Paochinda said the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission for the Demarcation of Land Boundary would be responsible for the talks to find solution on the border disputes near Preah Vihear temple.

"The Thai government has clearly showed that it will use dialogue as the channel to end the disputes. Local military personnel are maintaining good relations with Cambodian soldiers," he said, adding that no severe measures would be used.

He ensured that if there was any trespassing by Cambodian soldiers, they would be treated in accordance with human rights standards.

Gen Anupong added that the Second Army Area had warned local residents in Thailand to take care when traveling in the disputed border areas, intrusions into Cambodian territory could happen and there are still landmines in the border zone which could endanger civilians.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said he was verifying the news report before making any comment and affirmed that Thailand would use peaceful mean to solve the problems.

Anupong: Peace, not war

Published: 29/09/2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Army chief Anupong Paojinda insisted on Tuesday that Thailand opts for peaceful means in solving border conflicts with Cambodia.

He spoke a day after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered his troops to shoot any trespassers along the disputed area and angrily blasted Bangkok's territorial claims.

Gen Anupong reiterated that Thailand will solve the conflict through dialogue at the Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission on Demarcation of the Land Boundary .

Thai soldiers will carry on their duties on Thai soil, and there is no plan to using violent measures, he added.

He warned those living in the area to be careful if they have to cross the border.

Last weekend, People's Alliance for Democracy protesters rallied at the disputed border area near the 11th century Preah VIhear temple. Dozens of protesters, police and villagers were injured in clashes there after security forces tried to obstruct the PAD from reaching the border area.

The protest was aimed to assert Thai sovereignty over disputed territory near the ancient temple.

Philippine death toll rises, as new storms brew

A girl rests on top of her belongings inside an evacuation center Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009 in suburban Quezon City, north of Manila, Philippines. Rescuers pulled more bodies from swollen rivers and debris-strewn streets Tuesday from massive flooding from Tropical Storm Ketsana in the northern Philippines, while two new storms brewing in the Pacific threatened to complicate relief efforts.(AP Photo/Pat Roque)

People view victims of massive flooding Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009 in suburban Quezon City, north of Manila, Philippines. Rescuers pulled more bodies from swollen rivers and debris-strewn streets Tuesday from massive flooding from Tropical Storm Ketsana in the northern Philippines, while two new storms brewing in the Pacific threatened to complicate relief efforts.(AP Photo/Pat Roque)

Gingery Comprendio stands between the coffins of her two daughters Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009, in suburban Quezon City, north of Manila, Philippines. Her husband and son were also found dead during the flooding. Her two other kids are still missing. Rescuers pulled more bodies from swollen rivers and debris-strewn streets Tuesday from massive flooding from Tropical Storm Ketsana in the northern Philippines, while two new storms brewing in the Pacific threatened to complicate relief efforts. (AP Photo/Pat Roque)

People visit the coffins of flood victims in Manila on September 28. Hundreds of thousands of exhausted Philippine flood survivors endured squalor in schools, gymnasiums and other makeshift shelters as the death toll from the weekend disaster soared to 240.(AFP/Jay Directo)

A man paddles his family on an improvised float as floodwaters remain high in suburban Pasig, east of Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009. Rescuers pulled more bodies from swollen rivers and debris-strewn streets Tuesday from massive flooding from Tropical Storm Ketsana in the northern Philippines, while two new storms brewing in the Pacific threatened to complicate relief efforts. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

In this photo released by the Philippine Air Force, flooding victims scramble for relief supplies being airdropped by air force helicopter crewmen at San Mateo township, Rizal province, east of Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009, three days after tropical storm Ketsana brought the worst flooding in metropolitan Manila in more than 40 years. Rescuers pulled more bodies from swollen rivers and debris-strewn streets Tuesday from massive flooding from Tropical Storm Ketsana while two new storms brewing in the Pacific threatened to complicate relief efforts. (AP Photo/Philippine Air Force, Rogel Vidallo)

By TERESA CEROJANO, Associated Press Writer
(Post by CAAI News Media)

MANILA, Philippines – Rescuers pulled more bodies from swollen rivers and debris-strewn streets Tuesday to bring the death toll from massive flooding in the northern Philippines to 240, while two new storms brewing in the Pacific threatened to complicate relief efforts.

The homes of nearly 1.9 million people in the capital and surrounding areas were inundated by flooding unleashed when Tropical Storm Ketsana tore through the region over the weekend, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said Tuesday. Nearly 380,000 people have sought shelter in schools, churches and other evacuation centers.

Overwhelmed officials have called for international aid, warning they may not have sufficient resources to withstand two new storms forecasters have spotted east of the island nation in the Pacific Ocean. One could hit the northern Philippines later this week and the other early next week, although meteorologists say that could change.

Ketsana, which scythed across the northern Philippines on Saturday, dumped more than a month's worth of rain in just 12 hours, fueling the worst flooding to hit the country in more than 40 years.

Troops, police and volunteers have already rescued more than 12,359 people, but unconfirmed reports of more deaths abound, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said.

He told a news conference that help from foreign governments will ensure that the Philippine government can continue its relief work.

"We are trying our level best to provide basic necessities, but the potential for a more serious situation is there," Teodoro said. "We cannot wait for that to happen."

Authorities announced Tuesday that a dam in northern Bulacan province had to release water for the second time in days in order to prevent a spill and urged villagers downstream to expect rising water levels.

Even the country's communist guerrillas said they would hold off on assaults and help villagers recover from the storm.

The extent of devastation became clearer Monday as TV networks broadcast images of mud-covered communities, cars upended on city streets and reported huge numbers of villagers without drinking water, food and power.

In Manila's suburban Marikina city, a sofa hung from electric wires.

Since the storm struck, the government has declared a "state of calamity" in metropolitan Manila and 25 storm-hit provinces, allowing officials to use emergency funds for relief and rescue.

Resident Jeff Aquino said floodwaters rose to his home's third floor at the height of the storm.

Aquino, his wife, three young children and two nephews spent that night on their roof without food and water, mixing infant formula for his 2-year-old twins with the falling rain.

Rescuers pulled a mud-splattered body of a woman from the swollen Marikina river Monday. About eight hours later, police found three more bodies from the brownish waters.

The United States has donated $100,000 and deployed a military helicopter and five rubber boats manned by about 20 American soldiers from the country's south, where they have been providing counterterrorism training. The United Nations Children's Fund and the World Food Program have also provided food and other aid.

Associated Press writer Jim Gomez contributed to this report.

23 dead as Typhoon Ketsana roars into Vietnam

Han River floods over Bach Dang Street in Danang, Vietnam, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009 as Typhoon Ketsana heads wesward to Vietnam after hitting Philippines. (AP Photo/Vietnam News Agency, Van Son)

Updated map showing the path of the storm that devastated northern Philippines and is now heading towards central Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands of exhausted Philippine flood survivors endured squalor in schools, gymnasiums and other makeshift shelters as the death toll from the weekend disaster soared to 240. (AFP/Graphic)

By TRAN VAN MINH, Associated Press Writer
(Post by CAAI News Media)

HANOI, Vietnam – Typhoon Ketsana roared into central Vietnam on Tuesday, killing at least 23 people as it brought flooding and winds of up to 90 mph (144 kph), disaster officials said. Some 170,000 were evacuated from its path.

Ketsana left more than 200 dead across the northern Philippines as a weaker tropical storm.

After gathering strength over the South China Sea, the typhoon made landfall in midafternoon, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) south of Danang, according to the National Weather Center.

Two people in Quang Nam province were killed by falling trees, and another died when struck by a power line, said Nguyen Minh Tuan, a provincial disaster official.

"The rivers are rising and many homes are flooded, and several mountainous districts have been isolated by mudslides," Tuan said.

Quang Nam is the home of the ancient city of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Another three died in Thua Thien Hue province, disaster official Le Minh said. A man was killed by a falling tree, a woman died in floodwaters and a 3-year-old drowned in a flooded home.

As the storm moved inland towards Laos, nine people died in Kon Tum province in the Central Highlands, including a family of five whose house was buried in a mudslide, disaster official Nguyen Van Vy said.

Deaths were also reported in Danang and the province of Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai.

Authorities evacuated 170,000 people from six central provinces as the typhoon approached and heavy winds began lashing Vietnam's central coast in the morning, officials said.

Rains and heavy winds began lashing the Vietnam coast Tuesday morning, knocking out electricity in some places.

"There's a blackout across our entire province," said Truong Ngoc Nhi, vice governor of Quang Ngai province, south of Danang. "Many streets are strewn with fallen trees and utility poles. It looks like a battlefield."

Vietnam Airlines canceled all flights to the tourist destinations of Danang and Hue.

U.S. hosts regional meeting in Cambodia on energy development

September 29, 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

The United States Embassy in Phnom Penh on Tuesday hosted a two-day conference in Cambodia on energy development in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

In the opening speech, U.S. Ambassador Carol A. Rodley said "the challenges facing the GMS in the energy sector are not unique: high economic growth of the region is driving the demand for energy whereas almost 50 million people in the GMS lack access to electricity."

"Under this GMS Economic Cooperation program, development of the energy sector in one country will be able to benefit the development of all countries through the most efficient use of the natural resources within the region," she added.

Participants for the forum are the representatives from some of the world's most well-known publicly traded American companies such as Chevron, GE, AES, Shlumberger, Conoco Phillips, Dupont, and Rockwell Automation as well as scores of other American, Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Chinese, and other companies that are interested to contribute to the development of the GMS energy sector.

The two-day conference includes speakers from the public and private sectors in the United States, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Conference topics will range from understanding energy policies and opportunities in member countries to a case study of energy trading in relationship to the expanding GMS market.

The Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation (GMS-EC) program is a regional effort among the countries of the Mekong river basin including Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, to develop energy infrastructure with the goal of expanding trade and growth in the region.

The U.S. Embassy said in a statement that "steady supplies of energy will be a critical element of future GMS trade and growth."

The GMS-EC program envisions regional production and distribution of energy, creating new opportunities for energy related technology producers, distributors, and traders.

Priorities of the GMS-EC Program include cooperation on developing energy, transportation, telecommunications, tourism, environment, and human resources for expanded business opportunities.

An Asian Development Bank (ADB) evaluation of the GMS Energy Program found that investor confidence in undertaking regional power export projects has risen strongly due to greater regional integration.

Source: Xinhua

PM Threatens to Tear Thai Border Map

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen addresses the audience at the inauguration of the new tourism ministry headquarters on Monday.

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 29 September
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday warned he would personally tear up a Thai border map if the Thais try to use the map again during the next session of negotiations.

The premier’s warning made following deputy supreme commander and chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces [RCAF] tore Thai party border map during their talk at Sombok Khhmoum as Thai black uniform soldiers used this map to solve with Cambodia.

“If Thai Prime Minister uses its map to talk and negotiate with Cambodia next time, we will tear this map,” said the premier at the inauguration of the new tourism ministry headquarters on Monday.

The premier said he admired Pol Saroeun for tearing a copy of the Thai map during previous talks.

Hun Sen stressed that Cambodia doesn’t want war, but will fight in self-defense against enemies.

“The illegal encroachment of last year [took place] as Cambodia was busy with election campaign, if not so, you will have blood from your head; do not push the chest more,” the premier said in an apparent threat to unspecified Thai officials.

The premier also rejected Thai deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaug- suban allegations that the road Cambodia is constructing to Khmer Preah Viheah will cross Thai territory. “Do not use Preah Vihear as your political issue,” the premier said.

Srey Doeuk, Cambodian Preah Vihear Army Chief, on Monday told DAP News Cambodia that the situation is still normal. “The situation is still normal, but we are in high ready station,” he added.

The Land Demand Pilgrim Group, apparently a different group of Thai protestors to those who recently demonstrated, on September 29 will hold a protest demanding 4.6 square kilometers of Cambodian territory near the Khmer Preah Vihear Temple be handed over to Thailand.

Srey Doeuk said that Cambodian soldiers don’t care as they protest on their own territory.

“They can do whatever they want, but do not do or protest in our territory. If they do, we cannot be patient,” Srey Doeuk warned.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has warned protesters not to complicate political issues and not to encroach on Cambodian territory.

PM Orders Stop to Poipet Payments

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 29 September 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered a stop to informal charges at the Poipet border crossing to Thailand.

The premier’s warning came following some reports that Government officials, including police, customs and armies, were taking money from people crossing the border from Thailand.

“This border gate is getting worse and has started to charge money from the citizens. Is this real police or customs? I call on and send the message that it is not a small story for those citizens,” said the premier. The premier stated that this activity is completely illegal. “All money charged is never given as national budget, it is always kept in your pockets,” the premier added.

The PM said that some complicated deals had also taken place, such as the transport of second hand jeans. “In the past … we suggested businessmen to give some donations to the provincial authorities in order to develop the province as directed by top leaders,” Hun Hean, Banteay Meanchey Police Commissioner, told DAP News Cambodia on Monday.

However, the commissioner stated that he will take measures to control the situation as directed by the premier. “Following the premier’s recommendations, we will find workers or police who are responsible.”

Sao Bunrith, Poi Pet border gate patrol chief, said that police have no right to charge money. Sao Bunrith confirmed that he will take action to control the situation.

Cambodia to Send Peacekeepers to Africa

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 29 September 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia is to send 42 peacekeeping forces to the Central African Republic and Chad for a peacekeeping mission under the United Nations, the Defense Minister said on Saturday evening.

“Our forces will depart for these counties in November and in early mid-2010, we will send another 80 armed forces light engineering unit to the two countries under the UN peacekeeping mission to look after airports and roads,” Nhim Sovat, director general for general department of politics and international relations of Ministry of National Defense, told DAP News Cambodia.

“Cambodia and the UN have already signed an MoU to deploy the peacekeeping armed forces in Chad and the Central African Republic,” he added. Sem Sovanny, director general of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces Management, Mine Clearance, Unexploded Ordnance and Post War Waste, said that the UN will not send their monitors to train and monitor Cambodian armed forces this time as “they have confidence in the abilities and capacities of forces training and our experience in previous times.”

“One achievement the UN said they admire Cambodia for are the pre-health checks, ,” he added.

Cambodia has already taken part in joint military exercises in several countries, such as Indonesia, Mongolia, Bangladesh, and also Sudan’s de-mining activities under the UN peacekeeping mission.

Cambodia will also host military exercises supported by the US under a program titled “Global Peace Operations Initiative or GPOI” which will take place in June or July in 2010.

PM Warns about Bad Weather

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 29 September 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said that the kingdom is facing some bad weather because of tropical storm Kestana and other storms.

At least five storms will soon hit Cambodia, he said at the opening ceremony of the new tourism ministry headquarters.

The premier noted that last week a storm flattened over 90 houses in Kampong Chhnang province. The Mekong River water level is also high, he said.

Now we are affecting with the Kestana storm, he said, adding that he also appealed to local people to be cautions about the storm wind and other storms, heavy rains hitting the country which could damage their properties and life.

“So far [this year] we have affected with at least 20 storms,” he said.

In a letter to the nation, the premier appealed to ministries to help people to deal with winds and floods. The storm will hit northeastern Cambodia and areas around the Tonle Sap Lake according to a forecast from the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.

Cambodia Sees 1.4 Million Tourists in First Eight Months

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 29 September 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

The Tourism Ministry has annou- nced that the kingdom attracted 1.4 million foreign visitors in the eight months of this year.

Visitors totalled 1.4 million, down 1.37 percent compared to the same period of 2008, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said at the opening ceremony of the new headquarters in Phnom Penh

Siem Reap Angkor decreased by 9.46 percent, Preah Sihanouk province decreased 10. 19 percent, but Phnom Penh increased 12.89 percent. However, in the last couple of months, June and August 2009, the number of tourist arrivals has increased between 7 and 10 percent each month.

“The tourism situation in Cambodia has gradually emerged from the financial downturn toward a resilient state and it is expected that at the end of 2009, Cambodia will be able to receive roughly 2.2 to 2.3 million international tourists with an expected growth of 2 to 3 percent,” he said. In 2010, the implementation of a wide range of policies designed to improve tourism in Cambodia, such as the visa-free policy between Cambodia and Thailand and particular key markets, single visa implementation, greater facilitation of tourist travel and transport, increased number of flights by Cambodia Angkor Air, plus a direct flight operation of the Philippines Airline and the increase of cultural, religious, sport, and tourism events, Cambodia will be able to receive more international visitors than 2009, he noted.

Tourists have tightened their belts after being affected by the global financial crisis, he said.

At the same time, Prime Minister Hun Sen noted that “we have to expand more tourism areas and the local people are key factors to help expand the tourism field … [and] introduce new resorts for foreigners, he said.

Vietnamese tourists increased sharply, while tourists from Japan, China and South Korea dropped, he said.

Still, the lower daily expenditures of regional tourists could not make up the lost higher spending visitors from the EU, Japan, South Korea and North American countries, the minister said.

Cambodia Hosts WTO Meeting

Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 29 September 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Members of World Trade Organi- zation (WTO) and the Cambodian Government on Monday met at Phnom Penh’s Le Royal Hotel under the presidency of Minister of Finance and Economy (MEF) Keat Chhun.

Keat Chhun stated at the meeting that the kingdom was looking for “a policy to attract all positive points for investment into Cambodia.”

The WTO has held 7 meetings here already.

Cabinet Secretary of State and Minister of Commerce Cham Prasith said at the meeting that “We are very proud that this is Cambodia’s first time as a full member of the WTO and became a host for the meeting.”

Further meetings would “set the goals for improvement and reform investments or increase the economic in region, as well as improve jobs to earn new profits to reduce poverty,” according to his speech. Keat Chhun added that Cambodia would live up to its responsibilities as a member of WTO. “The WTO helps Cambodia boost its economy’s potential.”

Dr. Kang Chan Dararoth of the Institute for Economic Development said that becoming a WTO member will help ease exports and imports.

PM warns Thais over border

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the opening of the new Ministry of Tourism building in Phnom Penh on Monday. The premier rejected Thai statements challenging Cambodia’s claims to land near the Preah Vihear temple.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:03 Cheang Sokha and Meas Sokchea

Hun Sen accuses top Thai leaders of using dispute over land for political gain.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Monday condemned recent statements by Thai officials challenging Cambodia’s claim to land near Preah Vihear temple and accused Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of milking the border dispute for political advantage.

“I suggest that the Thai political leaders stop using the border issue in their own political affairs,” Hun Sen said during the opening of the new Ministry of Tourism building, located near the recently evicted Borei Keila community.

The premier’s comments came four days after Suthep Thaugsuban, the Thai deputy prime minister in charge of security, was quoted in the Bangkok Post as saying that roads built near the temple by previous Cambodian governments did not necessarily belong to Cambodia. The Council of Ministers issued a statement Friday summarily rejecting his remarks.

In his speech, Hun Sen described recent statements by Thai officials about the disputed border territory as offensive.

“The claims from the Thai prime minister, deputy prime minister and other ministers on land around the temple are not acceptable,” he said.

“Cambodia will not recognise them. We will only recognise the maps left from the French era.”

Hun Sen also issued a warning to Thai protesters who might again try to approach Preah Vihear temple.

“I would like to stress that Preah Vihear temple is not like the Council of Ministers in Bangkok, and it is not like the Don Mueang or Suvarnabhumi airports that allow occupation by the Yellow Shirts,” he said, referencing sites that have been occupied in various Thai political protests.

Photo by: AFP
Thai police clash with protesters marching on Preah Vihear temple from the Thai side of the border earlier this month.

Hun Sen also accused officials working at checkpoints along the Cambodian-Thai frontier – especially those at the Poipet border crossing – of illegally taxing people who crossed the border daily for business reasons.

“The Poipet checkpoint has many issues. Now they are charging people who are trying to cart things over the border.Governor, take a look. The police and money-collectors, are they real police and customs officials?” he asked.

He said the issue was significant, despite the fact that it was probably affecting only a small number of people.

He went on to describe efforts to reform the border crossings as part of the government’s broader anticorruption fight.

“If any [government] units are acting illegally, then we must take action,” he said.

“That is the point of fighting corruption. We will create opportunities for people to earn more income.”

Ung Oeun, governor of Banteay Meanchey province, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Poipet Governor Try Narin said he would convene a meeting Tuesday to address the issue. He said individuals crossing the border with few possessions should not be taxed, but added that, as far as he knew, it was standard practice to tax people pulling carts.

“But Samdech is upset about the payments, and he says it is illegal,” he said. “So whatever [Hun Sen] says, I agree.”

Govt hails new policy on trafficking victims

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:03 Vong Sokheng and Sebastian Strangio

THE Ministry of Social Affairs has unveiled a new policy relating to its treatment of victims of human trafficking, laying out a series of benchmarks intended to ensure human rights are respected as the Kingdom ramps up its anti-trafficking efforts.

The prakas – or ministerial directive – launched on Monday lays out benchmark standards to protect the basic rights of trafficked persons and ensure their reintegration into society, according to Minister of Social Affairs Ith Sam Heng.

“In order to responsibly protect the rights of victims of human trafficking, we need to have a clear policy and minimum standards for protection,” Ith Sam Heng said at a workshop marking the launch of the new policy.

“The policy and minimum standards set out regulations for civil servants and [NGOs] to do their work and protect the right of the victims [of trafficking].”

Since its passage in 2008, the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking has come under fire from rights groups, who say it has conflated trafficking with voluntary sex work, resulting in widespread police abuses.

The new policy orders that victims of trafficking be granted a series of basic rights, including the rights to safety and protection, individual identity, privacy, dignity, justice and freedom of movement.

“[Victims] deserve our compassion and immediate action from our government to relieve their hardship and suffering,” the prakas states.

Samleang Seila, executive director of local NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said the policy, by taking power from police and NGO service providers and granting more of a say to the victims themselves, could help prevent voluntary sex workers from being caught up in raids by anti-trafficking police.

However, he said it could create new problems in genuine instances of sex trafficking.

“[The policy] seems to be giving special rights to the victims to decide whether to proceed with a criminal case,” he said.

“My concern is that sometimes the victims [of trafficking] are under the influence of the perpetrators.”

Other advocates, however, said past experiences did not bode well for the implementation of the new policy directive, however high-minded.

“Since the implementation of the [2008] law, the police have been unable to adhere to a rights-based enforcement of the law, despite being handheld by NGOs throughout the process,” said Sara Bradford, a technical adviser for the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers.

“Repetition of this method, which has proved to be a failure, is a waste of donor money and of time.”

The prakas cites figures from UNIAP showing that just 9 percent of Cambodian sex workers were “deceived” into entering the industry.

Regulatory vacuum
Ing Vannrithy, a coordinator in charge of Anti-Trafficking and Reintegration Office of the Social Affairs Ministry, said fair implementation of the 2008 law had previously been hamstrung by a lack of specific guidelines for law enforcement officials and NGOs.

“We found that the process of the recent law enforcement against human trafficking continued to suffer from a lack of standards,” she said.

On a visit to Cambodia earlier this month, Luis CdeBaca, director of the US state department’s office to monitor and combat trafficking in persons, noted the “confusion” between trafficking and non-coerced sex work but said the recent arrest of three American paedophiles in Cambodia was a sign things were improving.

US embassy spokesman John Johnson said the passage of the prakas, which was developed with US technical assistance, was an “important step forward” for Cambodia’s anti-trafficking efforts.

“The United States believes it is important to ensure that individuals who have been victimised receive quality care and support in line with acceptable international norms,” he said.

“[The ministry’s] successful collaboration with NGOs during this process has been essential to the success of the policy and indicates the increasing leadership role that the government is now playing in combating human trafficking.”

Officials confirm flu death

(Post by CAAI News media)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:03 Cheang Sokha

A 41-year-old woman from Phnom Penh has become the country’s first person to die from swine flu, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday.

Hun Sen said that the woman, from the capital’s Chamkarmon district, died at Calmette hospital Sunday afternoon.

“This is the first case [of a fatality from the A(H1N1) virus in Cambodia],” Hun Sen said during the opening of the new Ministry of Tourism building on Monday.

Authorities diagnosed the woman with the virus last Friday following tests at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, Hun Sen said.

The prime minister said the patient went to a private clinic on September 18 after falling ill. The woman, he said, had an existing lung condition.

Local resident Lim Chhay identified the victim as his sister, Heng Eng. He said Heng Eng was infected with the virus after travelling to Thailand.

She first went to Sokha Phirom clinic in the capital before she was taken to Calmette hospital when her health worsened, Lim Chhay said.

Dr Sok Touch, director of the Communicable Disease Control Department, said the victim’s case was so serious that doctors could not treat it.

“This sickness is unpredictable, and we have to be careful in treating it because it is not a normal disease,” Sok Touch said Monday.

Sok Touch said that among the 88 confirmed cases in the Kingdom, 81 have been treated successfully. Others remain hospitalised in stable condition.

Officials from the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed Cambodia’s first domestic case of A(H1N1) in June, after previously declaring the Kingdom “flu-free” in April.

The trend in spread of infections varies from country to country. The WHO lists Cambodia as a country where influenza transmission continues to be active, even as neighbouring Thailand, as well as Indonesia and Singapore, have reported declining transmissions.

Worldwide, there have been more than 400,000 confirmed cases of the virus, resulting in 4,636 deaths according to running totals compiled by the European Centre for Disease Prevention (ECDC).

To help prevent the spread of the disease, the Ministry of Health recommends that people wash their hands frequently, refrain from spitting in public, use tissues or handkerchiefs and avoid crowds.

Thais say soldiers burned teen post-mortem

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:03 Thet Sambath

Thai military officers have acknowledged their soldiers burned the body of a 16-year-old Cambodian boy suspected of illegal logging, but insist they only did so after he was dead, the deputy chief of the Thailand-Cambodia relations office at the Poipet border crossing said Monday.

Leu Chandara said the officers made the admission during a meeting last week, but Cambodian officials are not buying Thailand’s version of events. “We don’t believe them and we are going to conduct our own investigation,” he said. If the story were true, he added, it would raise questions about the soldiers’ motives for disposing of the body without first consulting the Cambodian government.

“They said they did not burn the teenager alive, but why did they dare to burn his body without informing Cambodian authorities?” he said. “What they are doing is trying to hide their bad actions.”

Officials in Oddar Meanchey province accused Thai officials of shooting Yon Rith and burning him alive on September 11, shortly after he was arrested and accused of illegally felling trees in Thai territory. Relatives claim he was lashed to an ox cart before soldiers set him alight. Marks on the cart prove he was alive at the time, they said.

Another Cambodian teenager, 18-year-old Mao Kleung, was also shot and severely wounded by Thai soldiers, but villagers managed to carry him to safety on Cambodian territory.

Like Leu Chandara, Yon Rith’s parents said the account from Thai military officials was dubious. “They are clearly just trying to hide the fact that their armed forces did a cruel thing,” said Nin Khom, Yon Rith’s mother.

Saing Yon, the father of the dead teenager, said: “I would request that the Cambodian government and international organisations find justice for my son and stop the Thai armed forces from committing cruel crimes against human beings in the future.”

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said he had instructed the Cambodian consulate in Thailand’s Sa Kaew province to investigate the case, but consulate officials were also busy with the case of 16 Cambodians accused of illegal logging along a disputed border area.

The group has been found guilty by a Thai court of illegal entry and destruction of forestry and has been sentenced to up to nine years in prison.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry said last week it planned to appeal against the sentence.

Officials at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment Monday.

Lost legs found in Siem Riep

Photo by: Photos Supplied
Dr Peter Sharrock stands by the ‘rediscovered‘ legs of an ancient sculpture of the Buddhist deity Hevajra. The original (inset) was of “exceptional importance“ during the reign of King Jayavarman VII.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:03 Jude Mak

Missing piece of Hevajra relic discovered near Angkor Thom.

THE missing piece of an ancient sculpture of the Buddhist deity Hevajra, the bust of which is on display in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been recovered from a historic site in Siem Reap province.

The legs of the sandstone carving, which dates back to the 12th century, were stumbled upon by a British archaeologist this summer. He had been trying to find the spot where French archaeologists first discovered the sculpture’s remains in 1925 near Angkor Thom, the walled city of King Jayavarman VII (1125-1215). Instead, to his amazement, he found the statue’s legs “just lying there on the jungle floor”.

Dr Peter Sharrock, a senior teaching fellow in the art and archaeology of Southeast Asia department at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, said the French archaeologists must have removed the bust, but left the legs, unaware of the artefact’s significance.

“This is a unique statue which I estimate to have been of exceptional importance in the time of King Jayavarman VII,” he said.

The site has been secured by the Apsara Authority, the body that manages Angkor Wat. The exact location is being kept secret for fear of looting.

Researchers hope further excavation could reveal other missing fragments. “[The discovery] may produce further parts of the Hevajra, but it may also give us some clues as to why and when it was apparently broken and buried with other important Buddhist icons at this place in the forest,” Sharrock said on Monday.

The legs are now in the care of the Sihanouk Angkor Museum in Siem Reap, but experts hope they will be reunited with the bust in New York.

Hab Touch, director of the National Museum of Cambodia, said: “We want to put the pieces together. Not one piece there and one over here. We [US and Cambodian officials] will sort it out together.”

Only when the statue has been fully restored will people be able to fully grasp its significance, Sharrock said.

Veterans urge govt to honour pension plan

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Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:03 Sam Rith

Retired soldiers in Banteay Meanchey province say the government has neglected to pay their pensions for more than two years.

Representatives of more than 600 retired soldiers delivered a petition to the provincial governor Monday, urging him to intervene in a dispute that began in March 2007.

“We are coming up to the provincial hall today to give a petition of over 600 retired soldiers to the provincial governor to ask for his intervention,” said Kong Chheat, 58, who estimated the government owes him at least 3 million riels (US$750).

Choa Sokhom, 48, of Mongkol Borei district, said the soldiers decided to take their case to the province when complaints filed to the commune and district levels failed to produce a solution.

Ung Oeun, Banteay Meanchey provincial governor, confirmed on Monday that he had received the soldiers’ petition and contacted the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation for help.

The director in charge of the pension department at the ministry, Hem Bora, said it had already acknowledged the soldiers’ plight, but is still waiting for the funds to arrive from the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Hem Bora said his department submitted a report on the complaints in May, but that it would take some time before the soldiers could be paid, although he did not specify how long. A budget shortfall was to blame for the frozen payments, he said.

More arrests sought in K Cham gang rape

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Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:02 Mom Kunthear

KAMPONG Cham authorities are searching for three men believed to have been involved in the gang rape and killing of a 13-year-old girl in Kampong Cham last week.

Leang Eng, police chief of Kampong Cham’s Soung town said Monday that seven men arrested in relation to the case earlier this month appeared in provincial court on Wednesday, but that authorities were searching for three other men who may have been involved.

“Our investigations found that there were 10 young men involved with the rape and murder, and we are now searching for the other three offenders who may have come up with the idea, even though they did not rape the girl,” he said.

Kampong Cham chief prosecutor Hout Vuthy said Monday that the seven men were being held at the provincial prison until there is sufficient evidence to go to trial.

Buo Virak, a provincial coordinator for local rights group Licadho, said that if the men were found guilty they should be punished to the full extent of the law.

“The law must punish them seriously so that they can’t do something like that again, and so it can be a lesson for other men not to follow in their cruel steps,” he said.

Strike drags on in Kandal

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Workers strike as a “last resort” outside the Fortune Garment Factory on Monday.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:02 Mom Kunthear

MORE than 2,000 workers at the Fortune Garment and Woollen Knitting company in Saang district, Kandal province, on Monday continued their strike against poor working conditions.

Lun Simeth, a workers’ representative, said the action, which started on September 22, would continue until the factory owner complied with employees’ demands, which include higher wages, a daily break, paid maternity leave and meals for employees working overtime.

“We didn’t want to strike, but after more than a year of attempted negotiations with not a single thing to show for it, we had no choice,” he said.

Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, confirmed workers’ demands had been completely ignored by management.

“The factory owners always escape from face-to-face negotiations,” he said.

Owners could not be reached for comment Monday.

Men vital in curbing domestic violence

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Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:02 Tep Nimol

MEN must lead the fight against domestic violence, a conference on gender equality heard Monday.

“Most often, violence is caused by men, so it is men who must put an end to violence by themselves,” said James Lang, coordinator of the United Nations Partners for Gender Violence Prevention and Gender Equality Boosting programme.

“Some good men do not even want to see other men committing violence at all.”

Lang was speaking at “Working with boys and men for gender equality and gender violence-prevention”, a regional meeting in Phnom Penh attended by delegations from 13 South and Southeast Asian countries.

However, it can be difficult to quantify occurrences of domestic violence or spot upward or downward trends in Cambodia. The violence frequently happens behind closed doors, with victims too afraid to publicise their stories, Lang said.

In order to curb domestic violence, society must view it as a problem for everyone – not just women, said Ros Sopheap, executive director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, a local NGO.

It is men, she said, who play the most important role in preventing domestic violence.

Ros Sopheap said research suggests domestic violence is on the upswing in Cambodia.

A 1996 national study, she said, suggested 16 percent of people had experienced domestic violence. A similar 2005 study suggested the percentage had risen to 25 percent.

Med students hold firm

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Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:02 Chhay Channyda

STUDENTS from the University of Health Sciences who failed first-year exams continued to protest in front of their school on Monday despite government warnings of a crackdown, managing to wrench an extra concession from government officials.

Following Monday’s protest, In Viracheat, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, signed a directive stating that Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to grant the 1,425 students who failed their exams three options: to move into second-year nursing studies, to retake their exams on October 24 and 25, or to continue their studies at another school.

Student Keo Moly said the students respected the directive issued by the government but still demanded full admission into the second year of their health science courses.

She said that some students have agreed to continue their studies at other universities as per the directive but joined in the protest to support students who did not agree with the terms.

The students have been protesting since September 10, claiming there were irregularities in their exams, and that scores had not been released by the university.

Groups of riot police were deployed at the University of Health Sciences on Monday following government warnings, but the day’s protests saw no violence.

Schools, climate, maternal care fall short: report

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Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:02 Robbie Corey-Boulet and Meas Sokchea

CAMBODIA is not likely to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for education, the environment and maternal mortality, a consultant who recently conducted an assessment of the effort for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said Monday.

Sherif Rushdy, director of the consulting firm Principles in Action, drew on the most recent available data in producing his MDG progress report, which is currently in draft form. He presented key findings during a seminar on the national commune database at the Phnom Penh Hotel.

“On three of the Millennium Development Goals there is a red light – warning, warning, warning – Cambodia is not going to meet those goals,” he said.

The global MDGs were established in 2000, and Cambodia adopted localised versions in 2003.

The Cambodian version of the education goal – which, unlike the global goal, calls for universal enrolment at the lower secondary level by 2015 – was unrealistic, Rushdy said, citing data from 2008 and 2009 that placed lower secondary enrolment at just over 30 percent.

“The goal [of 100 percent enrolment] was far too ambitious in terms of lower secondary education, but it is probably achievable in primary education,” he said.

Rushdy said he only recently downgraded his prediction for the environment goal in light of census data indicating little progress in decreasing fuel-wood dependency. Among other targets, the goal calls for Cambodia to maintain its baseline forest coverage rate of 60 percent, a figure that had dropped by 3.4 percent as of 2006.

The most recent maternal mortality data continues a string of negative reports: Though a slight improvement from 2005, the figure of 461 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births remains far above the 2010 interim target of 243.

Minister of Health Mam Bunheng acknowledged that the maternal health situation had not improved much, though he pointed to gains in other areas, including combating HIV/AIDS and reducing child mortality.

Education Minister Im Sethy and Environment Minister Mok Mareth could not be reached for comment.

Rushdy said Cambodia had a chance to meet the poverty and gender-equality MDGs, and was well-positioned to meet those pertaining to demining, child mortality and HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Police Blotter: 29 Sep 2009

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:01 Chhay Channyda

Two police officers were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of driving a motorbike while intoxicated and firing a gun in a crowded area on Norodom Boulevard near the Lux Cinema, causing panic on the street. Daun Penh military police arrested the drunken duo, confiscating their firearms and ammunition.

Police in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town arrested a girl for allegedly persuading a younger friend into stealing jewellery for her. San Seila, 14, was hauled in after the mother of the other girl said that San Seila had convinced her daughter to steal a necklace and a ring from the family home. Police said that San Seila had perpetrated this scheme many times but had never before been reported, but that they planned to talk to her family and re-educate her rather than send her to jail.

Five youths suspected of gangsterism were sent to Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh on Wednesday to await trial in three robbery cases. The teenagers are accused of a series of robberies committed in August and September of this year in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork, Dangkor and Meanchey districts. Police arrested the trio on September 19 and subsequently returned three stolen motorbikes discovered at the scene of the arrest to their rightful owners.

A young man from Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district was arrested on Friday following a complaint from his parents that he had spiraled into degeneracy, constantly stealing their money to buy drugs. The parents of the 21-year-old said that he had once been a good son, but that he quit school once he became addicted to drugs. Police said that the man would be sent to a rehabilitation centre to treat his addiction.

A 20-year-old man was arrested in Banteay Meanchey province on suspicion of stealing property from a local resident. The suspect confessed to police that he joined a gang of thieves to participate in the robbery, but that the rest of the gang are now at large. Police sent the arrested man to provincial court and are hunting for his accomplices.

Prisons to get health upgrade

Photo by: Sovan Philong
A cameraman on Monday films a poster giving medical tips to prisoners at a debate on improving health care in jails.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:02 May Titthara

THE Ministry of Interior’s Department of Prisons is set to explore ways of reducing the strain on the health care services available in the Kingdom’s overcrowded jails, officials said Monday.

At a seminar for prison chiefs organised jointly with the Ministry of Health and the International Committee of the Red Cross, Heng Hak, director general of the Department of Prisons, said there are about 13,057 prisoners in Cambodia, and that an increase of prisoners will only strain the services of the prison system.

He said that in the nation’s 24 prisons, there are only 88 nurses, adding that prisoners are at high risk of tuberculosis, high fevers, HIV/AIDS and chronic diarrhoea.

“We are facing this problem by repairing old buildings and increasing daily food allowance from 1,500 riels to 2,800 riels per day,” said Heng Hak, referring to prison reforms introduced earlier this month.

“They also now receive 5,000 riels per month for their medical treatment.”

Sam Sakun, deputy director of the Department of Prisons said that only four of the nation’s 24 jails are currently able to receive adequate medical supplies from the Ministry of Health: the two Prey Sar prisons near Phnom Penh, Kandal provincial prison and Banteay Meanchey provincial prison.

He stated that as of June this year, 204 prisoners had contracted HIV/AIDS and 135 were suffering from tuberculosis.

Sear Huong, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Health, said that health services were rationed fairly, but that the main problem was a simple lack of supplies.

“We provide the prisoners health services without discrimination, but services are still limited, so there is no guarantee on quality,” he said at the seminar.

Senior prison researcher Nget Sokun of the human rights NGO Licadho said that his organisation always tries to provide prisoners with proper treatment when it performs health inspections.

Nigerians claim cultural bias

Photo by: Sebastian Strangio
Congregants worship during a service at the Wonders Harvest Church, a predominantly Nigerian congregation in Chamkarmon district.

Congregants worship during a service at the Wonders Harvest Church, a predominantly Nigerian congregation in Chamkarmon district.

I’d say that one out of 10 schools would be ready to take on an african.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 15:01 Sebastian Strangio and Cheang Sokha
Community leaders say govt unfairly targets Nigerians for visa violations and fees while limiting employment opportunities within the Kingdom.

A FIERY figure behind the pulpit, evangelist Prince Osang Joshua strikes a quieter note in person, relaxing in his small office at the back of the Wonders Harvest Church in Chamkarmon district.

Founded with his wife Fatima in 2007, the church is one of several small Pentecostal congregations serving the spiritual needs of Phnom Penh’s growing Nigerian community. But following a recent series of raids on Nigerian residents – including one on a different house of worship in August – the church services, a noisy mix of African chants and American South gospel sermonising, have begun to incorporate more worldly concerns.

Following a recent spate of police raids and visa complications that have drawn accusations of racism from some Africans, Joshua said the local Nigerian community – the largest African nationality in the country – was falling victim to the bad deeds of a minority.

“Just like in my country Nigeria, there are good people and there are bad people,” he said.

Joshua’s sermons, delivered in a mix of English and the Nigerian Ebo language, touch on many of the issues facing new Nigerian arrivals – such as finding work, avoiding visa complications and forming a “vision” for their lives in Cambodia.

“We try to advise [Nigerians] not to overstay their visas. We try to guide them to make sure they don’t overstay, and if they do overstay, what is the best possible means [of addressing it],” he said.

Although the Kingdom has long been known for its liberal visa-issuance policy, other Nigerians said the last year has seen an unexplained tightening of visa restrictions.

On August 2, armed police raided the Christ Embassy, a house of worship in Chamkarmon district, and detained 57 members of the predominantly Nigerian congregation for questioning. The sting followed the arrest of three Nigerians a further 20 Africans – most of whom were found to have overstayed their visas – only months before.

Turning the screwsGabriel Ken Gadaffi, the president of the Nigerian Community Association (NCA) in Cambodia, which represents around 150 of the country’s estimated 600 Nigerian residents, said that although business and tourist visas were usually issued a month at a time, many Nigerians had

reported to him that they were only being granted entry for a week or two. (Disclosure: Gadaffi is a frequent contributor to the Post).

“It can be very difficult for someone who comes as a tourist or to find a job – he can’t do that in a week or two weeks,” he said. “Then they find themselves stuck.

Others said that Cambodian immigration officials were requesting large cash bribes for standard-issue visas. Emmanuel Tony Jackson, who runs an educational consultancy and is also the NCA’s vice-president, said visas were now the “main problem” facing the community.

“Immigration [officers] at the airport make Nigerians pay a lot of money, and the prices are exorbitant: They pay $400 or $500 to gain entry.”

Bede Uwalaka, who has been living in Cambodia since 1999, said that in the past year he had faced unprecedented problems renewing his visa and those of his wife and two children. He said that the government could lose valuable contributions if the issue is not dealt with.

“The Ministry of Interior has the jurisdiction to determine how to issue visas, but those who are rejected should receive a plain reason why they have been rejected,” said Uwalaka, an English teacher and the director of marketing and liaison at Action for Health, a local NGO.

Others, however, said the recent series of raids are underpinned by prejudice against black Africans. Following the Christ Embassy raid last month, church members, including pastor Lenee Lahben, decried the action as “racist”.

Gadaffi also cited the difficulty experienced by Nigerians seeking work as English teachers, saying Cambodian schools often associate white skin with English proficiency.

“From my own experience, the schools do not consider your intellectual ability,” said Gadaffi. “I’d say that one out of 10 schools would be ready to take on an African.”

Cambodian officials said the law laid down clear guidelines for all foreigners, saying recent stings had only involved clear cases of drug trafficking and visa violations.

“The behaviour of Nigerian people is noisy, which is different to Cambodian culture,” said Mom Sitha, director of the Foreigner Office of the Phnom Penh Municipality, but denied that Nigerians were being unfairly targeted by the police.

“We have explained that they can stay in Cambodia only if they have ... a visa permitting them to live in Cambodia.”

Sona Soth, director of Phnom Penh International Airport, said he there had been no formal complaints about the behaviour of immigration officers, despite rumours that some foreigners were forced to pay bribes to gain visas.

Either way, Gadaffi said, it was important for police to judge actions rather than skin colour when dealing with legal issues.

“Look at the name, don’t look at the nationality,” he said. “Around the world, Nigerians are doing great things.”