Friday, 23 October 2009

Khmer Rouge victim from San Jose was saved by her children

Sophany Bay at a Cambodian temple in San Jose Wednesday Oct. 21, 2009. Bay is a refugee of the Khmer Rouge killing fields so long ago in Cambodia. After losing almost her entire family, she's rebuilt her life in San Jose, but the recovery wasn't easy and she's still tormented by occasional nightmares. Dozens of local survivors like her will tell their stories this weekend in hopes their testimony reaches a tribunal in Cambodia that is currently looking at the sins of Pol Pot's henchmen. (Photo by Patrick Tehan/Mercury News) ( Patrick Tehan )

By Joe Rodriguez
Mercury News Columnist
Posted: 10/22/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The most surprising thing about Sophany Bay is how much at peace she looks. The nightmares haven't tortured her delicate face or turned her hands shaky. Dressed in a purple blazer and silk scarf, she looks every bit a professional and educated woman, the kind who were not supposed to survive the killing fields of Cambodia.

"The only reason I am here today is because my children saved me," Bay said at the Wat Khemara Rangsey Buddhist temple in East San Jose. She tapped her shoulders for emphasis and added, "My children, they would not tell the Khmer Rouge who their father was, who their grandfather was. I would have been executed immediately."

On Saturday, the 63-year-old will join dozens of local Cambodians invited to the temple to tell their stories of surviving one of the 21st century's worst genocides. Human rights activists and university researchers will collect their testimony and, as part of a national effort, send their accounts to an international tribunal judging the acts of four Khmer Rouge leaders. The tribunal hasn't yet decided if it will use these testimonials in its deliberations. .

"This is a fitting time for their stories to be heard, whether or not the tribunal will accept the testimony," says Leakhena Nou, a medical sociologist at California State University-Long Beach and one of the key organizers of the testimonial campaign.

In studying the lingering emotional damage of the murderous social engineering inflicted on Cambodian immigrants in the 1970s, she has found that even their American-born children can feel stigmatized, isolated, depressed and suspicious of government and police.

"They're not getting healthier," Nou said. "They're getting sicker. Why is this happening with all the health services here?" The answer to that question won't come any time soon, but it never will if the mass murder is forgotten, or worse, denied by tyrants today and in the future.

Brutal regime

Bay grew up in Kompong Chuang, a small fishing village, with her five siblings, policeman father and stay-at-home mom. Growing up, she dreamed of becoming a judge.

"Even as a little girl in a village, I saw there was no justice at all in society," she remembered. "But for some reason, God changed my plan." Instead, she became a schoolteacher after college and moved to the capital, Phnom Penh. There she met and fell for a young Cambodian army officer, whom she married in 1966. They started a family.

Meanwhile, the Vietnam War raged next door and would soon spill into Cambodia, giving the fanatical ultra-communist Khmer Rouge an opening. They toppled the government in 1975 intent on building a communist utopia from scratch. To do this they would purge the population of intellectuals, former government officials, policemen, lawyers, journalists and anyone else deemed a threat to their revolution.

Bay was lucky in one way — her husband had been sent to the United States for training one year earlier.

He was safe, but he would not know what horrors awaited his wife and their three young kids.

What Bay remembers from the day the Khmer Rouge took control were the gunshots in the morning.

"They kept firing into the air, telling everyone, 'Go, go, go!' into the forest, that the Americans were going to bomb the city."

She grabbed her 6-year-old son, Paul; her 5-year-old daughter, Pine; and 2-month-old baby girl, Pom. Escorted by Khmer Rouge soldiers, they marched until exhausted, and again for days, deeper into the country.

One day, she lifted her emaciated, sick baby to a soldier and pleaded for help.

"The soldier, he injected something into her head," Bay remembered. "She died immediately. She was so happy and beautiful before, my baby." She buried Pom that night. But her two older children kept leaving the camp to visit Pom's grave. Fearing this would anger the soldiers, Bay escaped with them but was caught and sent to a forced-labor camp.

To root out their enemies, soldiers often interrogated children while their parents worked in the fields, irrigation ditches or rock quarries.

At night, Bay would whisper instructions to Paul and Pine.

"When the soldiers ask you about your father," Bay urged, "tell them he was a teacher like me. Do not tell them he is in the army."

Roughly 2 million Cambodians were starved, executed or worked to death by the Khmer Rouge. Bay isn't sure how her son and daughter died, from starvation, beatings, torture, or some combination.

"They tied my son's hands and made him stand in water up to his waist," Bay said. "They asked him questions. 'Who is your mother? Who is your father?"

Paul died at age 7. Bay's daughter, Pine, died soon after. She had been caught scavenging for food left by soldiers and then beaten. Bay can still hear her final words:

"Mom, take me to the clinic. When does father come home? You have to look for him, Mom!"

Life struggles

Vietnam, itself a communist state, finally invaded Cambodia and deposed the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Bay didn't think life under the Vietnamese would be any better, so she fled through the jungle to Thailand, eating tree leaves and remembering a friend's advice in camp.

"Life is a struggle," Bay quoted her. "I kept thinking that life is always going to be a struggle, and that's what kept me alive."

After 10 months in a refugee camp, where she used her French to become a relief worker, she was reunited with her husband.

By then blood clots in his brain had left him partially paralyzed. Everyone in their immediate families had died. After all these years, Bay still suffers from occasional nightmares.

Today she's a mental health counselor with the Gardner Family Health Network in San Jose, a nonprofit clinic where she helps low-income Cambodians. Her husband is a medical technician at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, a public hospital. They had no more children.

Three decades later, many Cambodians who survived the Khmer Rouge will not testify out of fear or the pain of memory.

"I am not scared," Bay said. "If I don't see justice done, I will not be able to close my eyes when I die. I try to be courageous about it, to talk about it, to let the world know the story of the Cambodian killing fields."

The teacher, mother and survivor who once wanted to become a judge still wants her day in court.

A Time for justice

Testimonies from Cambodian survivors of the Khmer Rouge will be taken from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Wat Khemara Rangsey temple, 1594 Cunningham Ave., San Jose. For more information go to Click on "research," then "special projects."

Chavalit, a man on a mission

Ex-PM has four major plans to save Thailand

Published: 23/10/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

When Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh decided to join the opposition Puea Thai Party as its chairman, many political observers believed his mission was to pave the way for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return home.

Gen Chavalit gives an exclusive interview to the Bangkok Post at his Nonthaburi condo. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD

He does not deny that, but says forgiveness is the first step to national reconciliation.

However, whether Thaksin comes home to serve his jail term or not is another issue. ''What I want to see is all of the conflicting parties forgive each other,'' Gen Chavalit said.

Thaksin was sentenced to two years in jail after being found guilty in a case that resulted from his former wife, Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, purchasing a block of land from the Financial Institutions Rehabilitation Fund.

Gen Chavalit, who announced his retirement from politics about a year ago when he resigned as deputy prime minister in the Somchai Wongsawat administration, said he decided to return to politics because he thought the country was breaking apart and he had to help stop that happening.

Bringing reconciliation to the country was one of the four missions he aimed to complete, and the forming of a ''national government'' was the only way to do that, Gen Chavalit told the Bangkok Post in an exclusive interview yesterday.

Although Gen Chavalit did not say it specifically, he implied he believed there would be a general election very soon and the Puea Thai Party would win the most seats in the House. ''Then I would offer all of the parties [the opportunity] to join a coalition government and that would be the only way to bring reconciliation to the country,'' he said.

On the rift between the red and yellow shirts, Gen Chavalit said he had come up with his ''spark of fire in the field'' theory. ''If you spark fires in a scattered fashion in a field, the fire will eventually light the whole field,'' he said.

Gen Chavalit said he had been encouraging small groups of red and yellow shirt supporters in many areas to sit down and settle their political differences, which he believed would be followed up by a settlement of their divisions on a larger scale.

If the conflicts were not resolved, they could eventually develop into bloodshed, he said.

Earlier, Gen Chavalit had offered himself as a ''middle link in the chain'' to bring the two conflicting groups together, but his offer was ignored.

Gen Chavalit said he had not paid attention to the present charter amendment bid as he did not believe it would be able to bring about reconciliation.

The second mission he had set out to complete was to prove to the public that Thaksin and his followers were loyal to the monarchy.

The third mission was to end the unrest in the South. He is scheduled to go to the region and hold ''secret talks'', but he declined to elaborate.

Gen Chavalit also planned to meet Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak early next month.

''The unrest in the South is one of the main concerns for the country's security as outside organisations are stepping in to intervene, so we have to solve it urgently before it becomes more complex,'' he said.

The last mission was to help settle all misunderstandings between Thailand and neighbouring countries.

He defended his recent visit to Cambodia as part of this mission as he and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen have been friends for a long time. As friends, he said, it was easier to settle disputes between the two countries.

Thailand and Cambodia are in dispute over the area surrounding the ancient Preah Vihear temple.

He also plans to visit Malaysia next month and Burma later.

When asked why he had set the missions only after joining Puea Thai, Gen Chavalit said it needed political status to support the moves to complete the missions.

''But I really want to help save the country, and not cause any uneasiness for the [Democrat-led] government.''

Gen Chavalit could not say when the missions would be completed, but he would try his best to achieve success as quickly as possible.

South Korea Provides a US$200 Million Concession Loan to Cambodia over a Period of Three Years – Friday, 23.10.2009

Posted on 23 October 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 635

(Posted by CAAI News Media)
“Phnom Penh: The South Korean president promised to the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia to provide US$200 million in concession loans for 2009 to 2012 to develop the Cambodian economy and society.

“The promise of such loan provisions was made during the two-day official visit of the South Korean President, Mr. Lee Myung-Bak, and his delegation in Cambodia on 22 and 23 October 2009. Together with the above concession loan, the governments of both countries also signed 9 agreements and memorandums of understanding to strengthen cooperation between Cambodia and Korea.

“After the meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, on Thursday evening, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, told journalists that the Korean government is ready to provide donations in response to the destruction in Cambodia, recently caused by the typhoon Ketsana, and Mr. Lee Myung-Bak will send his Minister of Foreign Affairs to check the situation, and Cambodia will raise the requirements to repair roads, schools, and hospitals that were damaged by this typhoon.

“Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong added, ‘In response to Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen’s request, the South Korean President, Mr. Lee Myung-Bak, agreed with the comprehensive and strategic partnership between Cambodia and Korea.’

“Regarding tourism, within the past five years, the Korean tourists’ arrival figures were still at the first position [in 2009 it will probably be Vietnamese tourists which provide the top number] with many Korean tourists visiting Cambodia. In this sense, Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong went on to say, ‘Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen will offer 1 year visas for Korean tourists to encourage them to visit Cambodia.’

“During a dinner party, a Cambodian-Korea business meeting, on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said, ‘This visit shows more clearly that the Korean government always really cares about the close ties and and the cooperation between both countries, and the presence of His Excellency [Mr. Lee Myung-Bak] and Her Excellency [Kim Yun-Ok] as well as the Korean delegation and the business community will surely bring new success and achievements, with the efforts to help develop the Cambodian economy and society, continuing to strengthen and to expand the cooperation in all fields, including politics, security, economy, social affairs, and culture.’

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said that Cambodia and Korea have been cooperating with the aim to ensure new opportunities, with the intention to mutually contribute and share benefits in order to achieve economic growth and poverty alleviation.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen added that the Cambodian-Korean ties and cooperation appear to be more noticeable, through the cooperation to implement different projects together, like the cooperation to organize the Angkor-Kyongju World Exhibition, joint investments, and the cooperation to create a Cambodia stock exchange market.’

“During the party, the South Korean President, Mr. Lee Myung-Bak, said also that he sees some positive points for future cooperation between both countries; first, in agriculture and bio-energy. In this sense, Mr. Lee Myung-Bak stressed, ‘Cambodia has high agricultural potential while Korea is experienced in modernizing rural areas of poor people via the New Village Movement countrywide.’

“Second, the president focused on cooperation in forestry, and Korea promised to implement a project to plant trees on 200,000 hectares, which is a win-win policy to restore forestry, to produce bio-energy, as well as to create job opportunities. His project will become a fine project of cooperation creasing ‘green’ cooperation bilaterally, which can create proper carbon dioxide emission credits and help to control global climate change.

“The South Korean president added that the third field is cooperation in industry, to provide training and education services, where at present, there are more than 500 enterprises in Cambodia contributing to develop the Cambodian economy.

“The fourth field focuses on cooperation in building infrastructure, where since the 1970ies, Korea has a lot of techniques, capital, and experience, and has constructed infrastructure in Korea and in other countries in electricity, roads, and railroads.

“Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong continued to say that the Cambodian-Korean cooperation has reached a comprehensive and strategic partnership, and both countries will boost this cooperation further.

“During this meeting, the heads of the two governments signed nine agreements:

1- Extradition treaty;
2- Conditional agreement between the Cambodian and Korean governments about economic development cooperation for 2009-2012;
3- Agreement on cooperation between the chambers of commerce of Cambodia and Korea ;
4- Cooperation agreement to produce publications between the Ministry of Information of Cambodia and the Korean Telecommunications Committee;
5- Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries on mineral resources;
6- Memorandum of Understanding on investments to plant trees and to control climate change;
7- Memorandum of Understand on education, training, and research, between the Royal University of Agriculture and the University of Agriculture of Korea;
8- Memorandum of Understanding on rice product investments for export; and
9- Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the oil sector between the National Oil Authority of Cambodia and the Korean Oil Corporation. The South Korean president also promised to accept 3,500 Cambodian workers more to work in South Korea, adding to the total number of Cambodian workers to South Korea to increase to 9,000.

“The South Korean president welcomes workers to South Korea, and he promised to help Cambodian women who are legally married to Korean men.

“During the two-day visit, the South Korean president, his wife, and the delegation, went to meet also with the Khmer King, Preah Bath Preah Boromaneath Norodom Sihamoni.

“As planned, the South Korean president and the delegation will visit the well-known Angkor Wat Temple of Cambodia in Siem Reap on Friday morning, before he travels to Hua Hin in Thailand, to attend the 15th ASEAN summit from 23 to 25 October 2009.”

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #318, 23.10.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 23 October 2009

Cambodian National Assembly passes legislation regulating adoptions

Fri, 23 Oct 2009
By : dpa

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Phnom Penh - Cambodia's National Assembly on Friday unanimously approved legislation that would regulate the adoption of Cambodian children. The passage followed years of allegations of a lucrative and largely unregulated trade in Cambodian children with unscrupulous officials and middlemen pocketing thousands of dollars for each adoption.

The head of the National Assembly's social affairs committee, Ho Naun, welcomed the legislation, which applies to both foreign and Cambodian nationals wishing to adopt Cambodian children.

"This law is very, very important to protect the human rights of these children and to ensure that they benefit," she said. "In the past, there were crimes committed against some adopted children, like removing their organs or using them as sex slaves."

Ho Naun said the government would hold a workshop to explain the legislation to interested parties once it had been signed into law after going through the Senate, which she said should happen soon.

Allegations of a trade in Cambodian children led the United States in 2001 to ban its nationals from adopting from the kingdom.

Other nations followed suit, including France (which resumed adoptions in 2006) and the United Kingdom. The latter suspended adoptions in 2004 and, in a review last year, renewed the suspension in part because of "insufficient" Cambodian legislation on adoptions.

Under the legislation passed Friday, prospective parents would undergo a rigorous assessment before being allowed to adopt. They would also have to meet the children they wish to adopt before being granted custody. The bill also outlines measures to ensure Cambodian officials adhere to it.

Among the legislation's provisions are that children being adopted should be younger than 8 except in cases of disabled children or where the child is the older sibling of a younger adoptee. It also fixes the fees prospective parents must pay to the government.

The introduction of the bill follows numerous and well-substantiated allegations over the years of a corrupt trade in children.

A number of media reports spoke of "orphaned" children being taken from their impoverished parents, who were told they would be educated and cared for in Phnom Penh. They were then trafficked into the adoption racket.

An investigation in 2002 by a prominent Cambodian human rights group, Licadho, found "clear patterns and networks in the process of buying babies or young children for the purposes of adoption." The non-governmental organization said at least four orphanages were involved in the trafficking racket in Cambodia and believed others were involved too.

Ho Naun said the legislation would bring the country into line with the provisions of the 1993 Hague Adoption Convention, which Cambodia signed in 2007.

At that time, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain objected to Cambodia's accession to the treaty. In the case of the Netherlands, the objection was "because it is still unclear whether the adoption process complies with international norms."

China, ASEAN to further promote trade facilitation

Sheng Guangzu, director of the General Administration of Customs of China, addresses the China-ASEAN Customs-Trade Cooperation Forum at the 6th China-ASEAN Exposition in Nanning, capital of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Oct 20, 2009. [Xinhua]


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) vowed in Nanning Tuesday to boost trade facilitation to build closer economic ties amid the lingering global economic crisis.

Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of ASEAN, urged customs of China and ASEAN to sign cooperation memorandum as to institutionalize cooperation at custom level to further boost bilateral trade.

Surin Pitsuwan made a speech to the China-ASEAN Customs-Trade Cooperation Forum at the 6th China-ASEAN Expo. The forum, focusing on trade facilitation, attracted over 260 delegates from governments, customs and enterprises of China and ASEAN members.

China has been holding annual consultation meetings with ASEAN customs and succeeded in carrying out several joint projects, Surin said, suggesting that signing cooperation memorandum would better facilitate trade and investment, and in turn boost the recovery of the world economy.

Sheng Guangzu, Director of the General Administration of Customs of China, also pointed out at the forum that the cooperation between the customs of China and ASEAN members should enter a new stage as the global economic situation keeps changing and China-ASEAN economic ties are growing closer.

The bilateral trade volume had grown three folds since the two sides started to build the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area(CAFTA) six years ago, from $59 billion in 2003 to $112 billion last year, according to official figures.

The CAFTA, which is soon to be established on Jan 1, 2010, will cover a population of 1.9 billion and conduct zero-tariff policy on 90 percent of the products traded between the two sides.

Surin expressed thanks to China's efforts in helping ASEAN to combat the financial crisis and promote trade facilitation.

"China is now the No 3 trade partner of ASEAN, and will be No 1 very soon," he said.

Sheng also pledged the two sides to resist trade and investment protectionism and ease trade barriers to promote international trade and global economic recovery with a more transparent, fair and open trade environment.

South-East Asia gets "toothless" human rights commission (3rd Lead)

Asia-Pacific News
Oct 23, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cha-am, Thailand - The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Friday inaugurated a human rights commission for the region, which critics have already dismissed as 'toothless.'

The inauguration of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) occurred at the 15th ASEAN Summit in Cha-am, hours after half of the representatives of civil society groups were rejected for an audience with the ASEAN leaders.

The governments of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Singapore all rejected the delegates chosen by the ASEAN Civil Society to meet with the ASEAN's leadership, now a scheduled event at ASEAN summits to demonstrate the group's new 'people orientation.'

The rejected delegates included Cambodia's Nay Vanda, Laos' Manichanh Philaphanh, Myanmar's Khin Ohmar, the Philippines' Crescencia Lucerno, a Franciscan nun, and Singapore's Sinapan Sanaydorai, a labour activist.

Myanmar cynically appointed two former police chiefs to represent civil society for them instead.

The Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai civil society representatives walked out of scheduled 'interact' talks with the leaders.

'We felt we could not be treated this way,' Indonesian civil society representative Yuyun Wahyuningrum said. 'We don't understand why they are so afraid of us.'

'It's disturbing that this is happening at a time the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Human Rights Commission is being launched,' said Debbie Stothard, head of one of those groups, the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma.

The irony was apparently lost on Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who presided over the inauguration ceremony.

'For members of civil society, you should rest assured that you now have a partner with whom to work,' Abhisit said of the new commission.

Abhisit on Friday opened the three-day summit in Cha-am, 130 kilometres south-west of Bangkok, with a call for a more dynamic, action-based ASEAN as it moves toward its goal of achieving an integrated ASEAN Community similar to the EU by 2015.

'We have to start thinking about a new approach in the way we do things,' Abhisit said. 'Our institutional structures should be strengthened so that the decisions can be made promptly whereas their execution can also be done in a timely manner.'

He enumerated the group's increasingly active role in 2009, such as agreeing to set up a regional financial 'self-help mechanism' by year's end to cope with the global financial crisis, participation in the Group of 20 summits of the world's largest economies, joint efforts to combat swine flu and an initiative to launch a permanent emergency rice reserve with China, Japan and South Korea.

The highlight of the summit was the inauguration of an ASEAN Human Rights Commission which critics have labelled as 'toothless' in a region notorious for human rights abuses.

The much-debated commission has been faulted for lacking independence from the 10 participating ASEAN governments, which include human rights pariah Myanmar and other poor performers such as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Commissioners on the new ASEAN human rights body were to be appointed by their respective governments, raising immediate questions about the commission's effectiveness.

The commission has no mandate to intervene in human rights violations in member countries but is to concentrate more on promoting regional understanding of human rights issues.

ASEAN has been widely criticized in the past for not dealing with human rights abuses in its own backyard, specifically for failing to pressure Myanmar, also known as Burma, to free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and more than 2,000 other political prisoners. Suu Kyi has spent 14 of the past 20 years under house detention.

The summit was also due to see the signing of declarations on food security, regional connectivity, disaster management and cultural exchanges.

Thailand is this year's chair of ASEAN, which now holds two summits per year. Next year, Vietnam is to chair the group, whose members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Besides drawing the leaders of ASEAN, the leaders of Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, ASEAN's main partners, are also scheduled to attend the summit in Cha-am.

Catalogue of horror
October 23, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

A north Queensland man allegedly caught with a terabyte worth of videos depicting the sexual abuse of young children and babies has been extradited from Cambodia this morning.

The 53-year-old Daintree man was arrested at Brisbane Airport and is expected to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court tomorrow on charges of possessing child exploitation material, accessing child pornography material from the internet, and making available child pornography material to other users of the internet..

He is the first person to be extradited to face prosecution for alleged child sex crimes under 2005 changes to the Commonwealth Criminal Code and a new international treaty to stop the sale of children for sex and pornography.

His arrest follows a year-long investigation by the Australian Federal Police's High Tech Crime Operations team, dubbed Operation Resistance, and their counterparts in Brazil.

Police allege a number of offenders had been operating a library of child abuse videos for sharing over the internet.

In the Daintree man's home, raided in November last year, police say they found 10 computer hard drives and 60 compact discs containing child abuse video files depicting attacks on children as young as 12 months old.

The sheer volume of files - totalling a terabyte of information - is equivalent to 40,000 filing cabinets of paper.

"The AFP will allege in court that up to 140,000 images and 10,350 graphic videos were located at the premises, containing abuse images of children and infants as young as 12 months to persons under the age of 16," investigators said in a statement today.

One month after the raid, an arrest warrant was issued for the man, who was believed to have travelled to South East Asia.

Cambodia's government approved his formal extradition to face a Queensland court.

He has been charged with possessing, accessing and making available child pornography, offences which carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years' jail.

Australian held on child sex charges on return from Cambodia

Fri, Oct 23, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

SYDNEY - An Australian man accused of accessing 150,000 images and videos of child sex abuse over the Internet was arrested Friday on his return home after being extradited from Cambodia, police said.

The 53-year-old man was picked up by police at Brisbane airport, almost a year after a raid on his Queensland home allegedly found illegal material stored on a computer hard drive and discs.

"(Police) will allege in court that up to 140,000 images and 10,350 graphic videos were located at the premises, containing abuse images of children and infants as young as 12 months to persons under the age of 16," police said.
The man, who was believed to have been travelling in South East Asia at the time of the November 2008 raid, was arrested by Cambodian authorities in May.

Australia does not have an extradition treaty with Cambodia but both countries have ratified a protocol covering child prostitution and pornography, which allows them to make extradition requests to each other.

"The man will face Brisbane Magistrates Court tomorrow, charged with offences including accessing child abuse material," the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

The man faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted of offences including possessing child exploitation material, accessing child pornography from the Internet and making child pornography available to other Internet users.

Cambodia will not extradite Thaksin on any request

By Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper/Asia News Network

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia issued a statement Friday, saying it would not extradite the former Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra if requested by the Thai government.

The statement was released just a few hours before Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen left for Thailand to attend Asean Summit in Hua Hin and Cha-am districts.

"The spokesman of the Royal Government of Cambodia would like to make it clear about its position that Cambodia will not extradite Thaksin on any request made by the Thai government if he decides to stay in the kingdom of Cambodia," said a statement of the spokesman of the Cambodian government.

The statement is made just a day after Thai government threatened to request Cambodia to extradite Thaksin, who ran away from two-year jail term in Thailand , if he visited Cambodia.

The threat came after veteran politician Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh visited Cambodia and held talk with Hun Sen on Wednesday.

Chavalit told Thai reporters in Bangkok that Hun Sen offered a house for fugitive ex-Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra who he regarded as his old friend.

The statement continued that the relations and cooperation would maintain and continue in all fields between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand.

The statement explained that the extradition treaty between the two country states that the requested party has grounds for mandatory refusal if it considers the offense for which the extradition request is made by the requesting party as a political offense.

The requested party also has a ground for the mandatory refusal if the requested party has well-founded reasons to suppose that the request for extradition made by the requesting party aims to institute criminal proceedings against or execute punishment upon the person, or that the position of the person sought in judicial proceedings will be prejudiced for any of the reasons mentioned above.

The statement added that based on the two reasons the Cambodian government has a right to make an interpretation whether the case against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is politically motivated or not.

The Prime Minster Hun Sen 's offer to allow Thaksin to stay in Cambodia is a virtuous gesture as Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thaksin are old friends, who shall help each other in a difficult situation and this moral attitude does not necessarily mean that it is an interference in the internal affairs of Thailand, the statement said

Cambodia, S. Korea Deepen Strategic Partnership

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) shakes hands with visiting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (L) in Phnom Penh yesterday

Written by DAP NEWS -- Friday, 23 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia and South Korea are now comprehensive and strategic partners with in cooperation with many fields, Cambodia Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters at his ministry after bilateral talks between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak, Hor Namhong said that both sides have enlarged all fields of cooperation to their mutual benefit.

He said that both sides signed agreements, including an extradition treaty, said to be necessary given the increasing movement of people and growth of two way trade and investment. An agreement on a soft loan concession worth US$200 million was also made. “The two agreements were signed under witness from the two leaders,” Hor Namhong added.

Cambodia will also provide one year visas for South Korea tourists to encourage them to visit, Hor Namhong said. Lee Myung-Bak told PM Hun Sen that he is urging all South Korean developers to continue work on their projects in Cambodia.

According to press release from the Cambodian side, both countries will today sign an MoU concerning mines, oil, forestry and climate change, education and culture. According to press release from the South Korean Foreign Ministry, South Korea will enhance cooperation on bio-fuel and agriculture, providing modern technological methods and Cambodian human resources and build a center for agricultural techniques in Cambodia.

South Korea will plant 200,000 hectares of rubber plantations in Cambodia, as well as cooperate on forestry and bio-fuel production to reduce carbon emissions. Currently, more than 500 South Korean enterprises are doing business here and helping economic growth in Camb-odia, Lee said in his speech.

South Korean investors have invested on the garment, tourism, construction, telecommunication, fin- ancial and banking, he added. “All these things will assist and improve Cambodian living conditions.”

The bilateral trade between Cambodia and South Korea is expanding rapidly after 12 years of diplomatic relations. Trade volume between Cambodia and South Korea increased sixfold and investment from South Korea increased 70 times since 1997. Around 270,000 South Korean tourists visited last year and South Korea visitor numbers have consistently been in the top five countries in the five past years. Lee visit here for two days according to the state invitation from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and today Lee will visit the famed Angkor Wat temple. “My visit to Angkor Wat temple will bring more South Korea tourists to visit there,” Lee said in his speech. Lee will leave Cambodia today to attend the ASEAN summit in Thailand. Lee, a former economic advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen, visited Cambodia as a second leg after he visited Vietnam.

During talks with Cambodian PM Hun Sen, S. Korean President Lee-Myun Bak said Korea would offer over 3,500 jobs for Cambodians in S. Korea, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

“The Korean President also welcomed Cambodian women to work in Korea,” Koy Kuong said, adding that the president vowed to protect Cambodian women who marry Korean men.

Hello Pledges Support for SSEAYP Cambodians

Written by DAP NEWS -- Friday, 23 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Hello, a leading Cambodian mobile phone telecoms provider, offered financial support to the 29 young Cambodians selected to participate in the Southeast Asian Youth Progr-amme (SSEAYP) 2009, according a statement yesterday.

A well-known and respected inter national youth exchange programme, SSEAYP gathers outstanding young people from Japan and 10 ASEAN countries to travel aboard a cruise ship and exchange ideas on how ASEAN youth can help solve important issues and problems.

“The key to Cambodia’s future is its youth and SSEAYP offers a significant opportunity for these talented Cambodians to broaden their horizons,” said Gary Foo, Hello brand manager. “We are extremely pleased to be able to assist them as they prepare to embark on this journey of learning.” Hello’s contribution will help to cover the expenses of the programme, which will run from October 27 to December 17, 2009. After a rigorous selection process that included a series of examinations administered by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, a group of 29 students from various universities in Phnom Penh emerged as the deserving few to take part in the SSEAYP. Their study tour will take them to Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei. Throughout the journey, the students will participate in activities and discussions aimed at expanding their knowledge, enhancing leadership skills and strengthening international cooperation.

Tim Vireak, a senior at Norton University and one of the 29 Cambo- dian participants, said that he is preparing for the departure by consis- tently reading both local and international newspapers and jotting down ideas and questions. “I’m keeping abreast of current issues here in Camb- odia. Whether it’s cultural, social or economic topics, I am doing as much research as I can because I want to contribute substantial points when these points come up for discussion.”
“The experiences and network that these young Cambodians will gather from the SSEAYP will be invaluable,” states Nith Bunlay, Nati- onal Leader of Cambodian Contingent.

Cambodia Sends Diplomatic Note over Thai Shooting

Written by DAP NEWS -- Friday, 23 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFA) on Wednesday sent a diplomatic note to the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh requesting Thai authorities investigate the fatal shooting of a Cambodian citizen on October 19.

“The Ministry presents its complaints to the Royal Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh and has the honor draw to the Embassy’s attention to following inhuman acts against Cambodian villagers,” the diplomatic note began.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia considers this act as an another serious breach of internationally accepted humanitarian principle, which should not be committed by any agent of a civilized State in official capacity, and in contrary to the spirit of Point 77 of the Record of Discussion of the 6th Meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia, on 4-5 August 2009 in Bangkok,” the diplomatic note said of the incident.

The diplomatic said that Cambodia requests Thailand to “take appropriate measures to prevent such atrocities from happening again, conduct a thorough investigation into unfortunate incident and bring to justice those who committed the above act of the cruelty.”

A Cambodian citizen living in Oddor Meanchey province was gunned down in a hail of bullets on Monday evening this week, one of three citizens fired upon by Thai black-clad soldiers and the Thai Forestry Admi- nistration, according a Cambodian official in Oddor Meanchey province. Thai black-clad soldiers and the Thai Forestry Administration officers shot one our citizens at around 5:30pm on Monday in O’Smach, Oddor Meanchey,” Chen Sivuth, a provincial administration official, told DAP News Cambodia.

The victim, Seum Bun Chhim, 25, lived in Chamkar Chek village, O’Smach Commune, Samrong District, Oddor Meachey province, he added.

According to the official, the victim suffered serious gunshot wounds to his torso. He died on the arduous journey to the nearest hospital, very far from the scene.

Apparently a “cruel businessmen” hired the men to transport felled trees from the mountains. While logging is against gthe law and punishable with stiff jail sentences, Chen Sivuth noted that no trial or investigation at all by Thai authorities had taken place. The Cambodian authorities are currently investigating, he added.

Oddor Meanchey Provincial Governor Pech Sokhen told DAP News Cambodia that he has warned his subordinators to stop Cambodian citizens from entering Thai territory.

Royal Government of Cambodia respond a letter to Thai government

Click on picture to zoom in

News Desk
Rasmei Kampuchea Daily
Publication Date: 23-10-2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia will not extradite former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra based on a request made by the Thai government, the Cambodian government has said.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia likes to make it clear about its position that Cambodia will not extradite Thaksin on any request made by the Thai government if he decides to stay in the kingdom of Cambodia,” said a government statement issued on October 23.

The Cambodian government’s statement comes a day after Thailand warned that it would request Cambodia to send Thaksin back to Thailand to serve his two-year jail term if he visits the country.
Thailand had made the cautionary note after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that Cambodia would warmly welcome Thaksin if he expresses his wish to stay in the country.

Hun Sen had also said: "I consider Thaksin as my eternal friend. Cambodia will welcome him to stay here anytime. I will make a house available for him if he decides to visit Cambodia.”

His statement had created a stir in Thailand, especially among pro-government factions, prompting the government to play the ‘extradition’ card.

The extradition treaty between the two country states that any party can refuse the extradition request if it considers the demand to be politically motivated, the Cambodian government statement said.

The requested party also has a ground for the mandatory refusal if the requested party has well-founded reasons to suppose that the request for extradition made by the requesting party aims to institute criminal proceedings against or execute punishment upon the person, or that the position of the person sought in judicial proceedings will be prejudiced for any of the reasons mentioned above.

The statement added that based on the two reasons the Cambodian government has a right to make an interpretation on whether the case against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is politically motivated or not.

However, the Cambodian government has said Cambodia will maintain its friendly relation and continue to cooperate in all fields with Thailand.

Thaksin Will be Deported from Cambodia: Thailand

Written by DAP NEWS -- Friday, 23 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Following Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s offer of a welcome for self-exiled former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra, rumors were swirling that he would visit Cambodia. Thai leaders said he would be extradited from Cambodia to be jailed in Thailand.

A senior security official in Thailand said Thursday that Thaksin planned to visit Cambodia, according to the Nation newspaper.

Convicted ex-Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra reportedly planned to visit Phnom Penh, a senior security official said Thursday, the Nation reported.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will offer a new house in Camb- odia to Thaksin if he wants to pay a visit to Cambodia, according to a high-ranking Cambodian Government official. The premier’s remarks follow a visit from former Thai Prime Minister Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, who is very close to Thaksin and visited Cambodia.

However, Cambodia’s cozying up to Thaksin has raised the hackles of some Thais. Suthep, a Thai deputy prime minister, noted Cambodia and Thailand have an extradition agreement, which he said will be enforced to apprehend Thaksin and return him to Thailand to serve a two-year jail term. “I am not surprised about friendship between Hun Sen and Thaksin but Thailand will make the extradition request if Thaksin is provided with a permanent shelter in Cambodia,” Suthep told the Nation.

Deputy Cambodian Prime Minister Hor Namhong said that Cambodia is merely continuing a long relationship.

“It is a right of the Premier Hun Sen to meet his old friend, Chavalit, and also the Phuea Thai Party born from the Thai Rak Thai Party, which is an old partner with the Cambodia People’s Party [CPP],” Hor Namhong told reporters at Foreign Minister after Cambodia and Korean leaders signed an agreement at the Foreign Ministry.

Thaksin thanked Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen in his twitter feed for welcoming him to the country and having offering to build a home for him.

“I have to express deepest thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen for saying in public that I am his friend. I also would like to thank him for arranging me a house,” Thaksin said on twitter.

Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, leader-in-waiting of Thailand’s opposition Puea Thai Party, has already visited Phnom Penh at the invitation of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“The two parties will discuss bilaterally to promote and strengthen between Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) and Puea Thai Party leaders,” a high-ranking Cambodian Government official told DAP News Cambodia.

The Cambodian PM suggested the establishment of a working group. Cambodian Minister of Defense Tea Banh, also a deputy prime minister, will be assigned as a leader of the above working group. A high-ranking military official from the Puea Thai Party will be another leader of the group.

Some analysts asked if cooperation between the premier Hun Sen and Chavalit Yongchaiyuth could be a bid the add further pressure to the Thai Government led by Abhisit, which was elected by a coup back by factions of the Thai army.

Korea to increase loans, aid

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Students line Sihanouk Boulevard to greet South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 23 October 2009 15:04 Cheang Sokha

CAMBODIA further cemented ties with South Korea in agreements signed Thursday in Phnom Penh by visiting President Lee Myung-bak and Prime Minister Hun Sen that will see Seoul increase soft loans to the Kingdom and offer help in the reconstruction effort following Typhoon Ketsana.

Lee, a close ally and former economic adviser to the prime minister, signed a deal that increased a loan agreement from US$120 million to $200 million through 2012 – an extension by one year – following an hourlong meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and an audience with King Norodom Sihamoni.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters afterwards that Lee had offered to help Cambodia rebuild following the typhoon at the end of September that caused extensive damage in Kampong Thom, Ratanakkiri and Siem Reap provinces.

“Lee Myung-bak promised to consider providing aid to Cambodia and urged their investors to continue to implement projects in Cambodia,” he said.

Nine agreements and memoranda of understanding were signed in total. An expected deal on mining was cancelled without further explanation by the ministry’s spokesman Koy Kuong.

Hun Sen signed a deal that allows Koreans one-year visas to Cambodia following a 33 percent decline in visitors from the country in the first eight months of this year. South Koreans have been replaced by Vietnamese as the largest contingent of foreign visitors to the Kingdom so far in 2009.

Photo by: AFP
Hun Sen (right) greets South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday.

Lee in turn agreed to receive an additional 3,500 Cambodian migrant workers to South Korea on top of the roughly 5,500 workers that have already relocated from the Kingdom, said Hor Namhong.

Other economic incentives included a commitment to build an agricultural training centre in Cambodia that would include technical assistance, as well as human resources training. An extradition deal was also signed. The agreements boost existing ties with South Korea, which has become Cambodia’s No 2 investor since diplomatic relations were first established in 1997.

South Korea last year agreed to $1.2 billion in approved investments in the Kingdom, as its companies poured money mostly into construction projects in Phnom Penh.

An official at the Council of Ministers who spoke on the condition of anonymity said late Thursday that a further three deals would be signed this morning, two of which would be on information technology and environmental protection, although further details were not available.

Lee said Thursday that South Korea would also plant trees on 200,000 hectares of Cambodian land as part of a reforestation effort.

Following a meeting at the Council of Ministers, Lee is due to visit Angkor Wat before flying out of Cambodia to attend the 15th ASEAN Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand.

Youths in Cambodia face job crisis: UN

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 23 October 2009 15:03 James O'Toole

YOUNG Cambodians face increasingly daunting prospects for entering the Kingdom’s labour market, the UN said in a report released today.

The report, titled “Situation Analysis of Youth in Cambodia”, was prepared to coincide with Saturday’s UN Day and is being launched at a ceremony this morning at the National Institute of Education. UN resident coordinator Douglas Broderick said that though the report also contains sections on health, education, rights and vulnerability, many of its most urgent recommendations focus on the issue of youth employment.

“This is the biggest issue affecting young people,” he said. “Cambodia has a young and vibrant workforce, but they lack the skills and training to achieve their full potential.”

People ages 10 to 24 currently comprise 34.7 percent of the Cambodian population – more than 300,000 leave school and look for work each year, and youth participation in the labour force is among the highest in the region, according to the report. However, recent economic growth has largely depended on a few key sectors: garments, construction and tourism, and these sectors are ill-equipped to further absorb large numbers of workers.

John McGeoghan, project manager at the Phnom Penh office of the International Organisation for Migration, said that Cambodia must account for the potential social dislocation that occurs when young people migrate from rural to urban areas in search of employment.

“What we are concerned about, perhaps in terms of trafficking, is that there are significant numbers of young people who don’t have a social network,” he said.

The UN analysis also noted this trend, though it emphasised the importance of expanding Cambodia’s labour capabilities in the agricultural sector, as the earning potential for youths entering the labour force is significantly lower in rural areas than it is in Phnom Penh.

Officials from the Ministry of Labour could not be reached for comment Thursday. In August, however, Ministry of Labour Director General Heng Sour told the Post that the government is currently sponsoring a job training programme supporting 40,000 people, 30,000 of whom are studying agricultural vocations.

“We are observing whether the economic crisis will continue and whether this training will be enough,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Economy and Finance will consider whether or not to renew this programme at the end of the year.

These sorts of initiatives, Broderick said, are crucial for the Kingdom to meet the challenge or a burgeoning working-age population.

“Establishing programmes and opportunities for young people to develop work-related skills, such as more school-based vocational training, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and opportunities in civil service ... is essential,” he said.

Thais chide Cambodia over Thaksin

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 23 October 2009 15:03 James O'Toole

SENIOR Thai officials said Thursday they would seek the extradition of deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra if he takes up Prime Minister Hun Sen’s offer to stay in Cambodia.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban told reporters in Bangkok that Hun Sen should not be meddling in Thailand’s affairs after he reportedly said that Thaksin had not received justice at home.

Thaksin, who was ousted from power in a 2006 coup, continues to live in exile after fleeing Thailand in August last year to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption.

“We have an extradition treaty with Cambodia, so if Thaksin goes there we will officially notify the Cambodian government and seek his extradition,” Suthep said. “This is Thailand’s own internal affair, and we can solve this issue by ourselves.”

Cambodia’s state-run TVK television said Wednesday that Hun Sen made the invitation during a private meeting Wednesday with Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, another former Thai prime minister who recently joined the opposition Puea Thai party, with which Thaksin is associated.

Thaksin, on his online Twitter feed, thanked Hun Sen for his controversial invitation but stopped short of accepting it.

“I thank Prime Minister Hun Sen for telling the public that I am still his friend and that he would welcome me at any time and arrange a house for me in Phnom Penh,” Thaksin wrote.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva urged Hun Sen to keep friendship and politics separate.

“I have told Hun Sen that anyone who is appointed to an important position must separate personal relations,” he said, adding that he expected extradition proceedings to begin immediately if Thaksin were to travel to Cambodia.

“If Cambodia failed to comply with the [extradition] treaty, that would be another story,” he said.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said it was “premature” to comment on Thaksin, but added that Hun Sen’s offer to the fugitive former premier was not an invitation to launch a political comeback from Cambodian soil.

“The PM offered that if [Thaksin] travels to Cambodia, he would have a place to stay but not a place to live,” he said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said there had been “no discussion” of Cambodia’s offering Thaksin official asylum, adding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not necessarily notified about travellers who make private visits to Cambodia.


Thais vow opposition to govt’s UNESCO bid

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 23 October 2009 15:03 Kim Yuthana and Vong Sokheng

LAWMAKERS, border experts and historians have rounded on Thai attempts to scupper Cambodia’s bid to become a permanent member of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.

About 40 Thai parliamentarians vowed last week to oppose the Kingdom’s move, senior Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap told the Council of Ministers on Thursday.

He dismissed their threats as insignificant, insisting Cambodia stood an excellent chance of being voted in.

“I am optimistic that the 186 countries serving as members of the World Heritage Committee will vote on October 26 to support Cambodia as a permanent member,” he said.

Elections for the World Heritage Committee are due to run from today to Wednesday in Paris. Twelve of 21 countries currently on the committee are due to retire. Meeting once a year, the committee determines which sites are granted World Heritage status.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An – who has been lobbying in Africa, Central America, Europe and Oceania – expects 143 of 186 countries to vote in support of Cambodia, he said.

Logging trial: Appeal filed over terms for loggers

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 23 October 2009 15:03 Cheang Sokha

Logging trial

Lawyers representing 16 Cambodian loggers sentenced to lengthy prison terms in Thailand have lodged an appeal, officials confirmed Thursday. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said the appeal was filed Thursday morning, one day before the end of a one-month appeal period set by Thailand’s Ubon Rachathani provincial court. “We hope that the Thai Court of Appeal will provide justice,” Koy Kuong said. On September 23, a Thai provincial court sentenced 15 of the loggers to nine years and three months in prison and one logger to six years and two months. They had been convicted of illegal entry into Thai territory and destruction of forest after their group was caught along the disputed Cambodia-Thailand border July 23.

Ferry owner charged with manslaughter

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 23 October 2009 15:03 Khouth Sophakchakrya

THE owner of an overloaded ferry that capsized in Kratie province earlier this month has been charged in the deaths of 17 people who drowned in the disaster, even though police have yet to find the man, court officials confirmed Thursday.

Uch Ry was charged with 17 counts of involuntary manslaughter late last week, Kratie provincial prosecutor Sou Rasmei said Thursday.

It comes despite conflicting reports over Uch Ry’s whereabouts – officials believe he is in hiding, whereas his daughter previously told the Post she thought her father had drowned in the disaster.

The charges were filed even after families of the drowning victims agreed to be compensated for the deaths and withdrew their complaints against the ferry owner in civil court. Investigators plan to pursue the case in criminal court, said Som Ravuth, a provincial court clerk.

A representative of the families said they agreed to an offer of US$500 for each victim from the boat owner’s family – a difficult decision for Eang Te, who lost his daughter, his daughter-in-law and two young grandsons in the tragedy.

“I received $2,000 from the ferry owner’s family, but I’m not happy because it is not fair, for my family to have lost four children,” Eang Te said.

The passengers died October 10 after the 8-metre-long boat, jammed with an estimated 30 people and several motorbikes, capsized into the

Witnesses described a frantic scene as terrified villagers struggled to stay afloat in the dark amid heavy rainfall.

Although it is the missing boat owner who was charged, the passengers themselves have also been blamed for crowding onto the tiny boat.

“It was the mistake of the boat owner, but passengers were to be blamed, too,” Eang Sam Ol, an employee who swam to safety after the boat flipped, said on October 11.

“We tried to prohibit them from getting on the boat because it was already full ... but they did not listen and kept rushing onboard,” he said.

Fee for flu test called too high

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
The son of Cambodia’s first swine flu victim, Chuon Vanthon, cries at his father’s funeral. At right, a receipt shows payments made by the family for swine flu tests.

Friday, 23 October 2009 15:03 Chhay Channyda and May Titthara

THE family of a man who died from swine flu has accused hospital staff of charging a fee to test his relatives for the A(H1N1) virus – a procedure that officials say should be available for free.

Chuon Vanthon, 41, from Kandal province, died this month after contracting swine flu. Fearing they might have become infected themselves, his relatives asked to be tested at Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh, but were told it would cost them up to $200 each.

Hong Had said: “I wanted to get blood tests after my brother died because I’m worried about the health of my family, but the doctor said it would cost $200 each if they found the virus and $150 each if the results were clear. How can I afford this with a family of 10? I don’t know why we need to pay so much money.”

Dr Nima Asgari, a public health specialist at the World Health Organisation, said the test should be free.

He cautioned that people seeking the test could face in-patient fees, but only if the test results were positive and the patient required hospitalisation.

Sok Touch, director of the Communicable Disease Control Department, said the test should be free irrespective of the result.

He said only people showing severe symptoms – such as high fever – should get tested, “otherwise thousands of people will take the test, and the system will be blocked.”

Chheang Ra, director of Calmette Hospital, refused to comment Thursday.

Assembly debates adoptions

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Two brothers in an orphanage in Phnom Penh. A new draft law, part of which was passed today, will mean tougher regulations for adoptive parents.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 23 October 2009 15:02 Meas Sokchea

New law will fill legal void on foreign adoptions and help fight child trafficking.

THE National Assembly has begun approving a draft law tightening restrictions on the adoption of Cambodian children by foreign parents, responding to fears the previous lack of a regulatory framework allowed for the exploitation and trafficking of children.

“This law is an important part of the Royal Government’s enforcement policy on intercountry adoption and a means of serving children’s interests by finding them good families,” states a declaration appended to the draft law, presented in an Assembly session on Thursday.

Around half of the law’s 58 articles were approved by the parliament with little debate.

Cambodia is a signatory of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, an international agreement that sets forth principles for the adoption process, and the declaration states the new law will officially bring the Kingdom into line with the convention.

“This draft law will strengthen cooperation with countries that are parties of the Hague Convention … and prompt cooperation related to intercountry adoption in order to prevent the trafficking of children,” the declaration reads.

Up until now, Cambodia has lacked a proper framework for the adoption of orphans by foreign parents. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Australia have all banned adoptions from Cambodia since 2001, amid allegations of fraud and baby-selling.

If passed, however, the draft Adoption Law will ensure prospective parents undergo a rigorous screening before any adoption gets the green light. The law states the specific conditions for adoption, including measures to prevent fraud and coercion, delineate which children are eligible for adoption, and ensure adherence to the law through enforcement by Cambodian authorities.

Article 21 of the law states that adopting parents, whether they are foreigners or Cambodians, will be eligible provided they have “never been convicted of a crime and have good character and behaviour, are kind-hearted towards children and can feed” them.

According to Article 45, adopters also have to provide a report to the government every six months for three years after the adoption, and every year thereafter until the child is 18 years of age.

Minister of Social Affairs Ith Sam Heng said during the National Assembly session on Thursday that parents from 28 countries have so far adopted more than 3,500 Cambodian children, and that the draft law would also ensure local officials are up to the task of vetting prospective parents.

“The officials must have the skills to talk with parents clearly before deciding to grant children to the adopters because sometimes they take their children for business,” he said.