Thursday, 3 December 2009

ASIA Singaporean students serve less well-off in Cambodia

A student from Singapore serves porridge to Cambodian people

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

KOMPONG CHAM, Cambodia (UCAN) -- An exchange program which saw Singaporeans teaching English to Cambodian youths and feeding poor children at dumpsites was an eye-opener for all, say organizers and participants.

Sixteen students from Hwa Chong Institution, an independent school in Singapore, were in Kompong Cham Nov. 19-29 for a program organized by the institution, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) of Singapore and the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Cambodia.

The boys and girls, aged 16-19, stayed at a Church-run students' center. During the program, they played games with the 18 resident boys at the center, taught English to them and children in a government primary school, and fed children living at dumpsites.

They also decorated the classrooms and library of the government school, and painted pictures on the walls of a child-care center run by the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Only a few of the visitors were Christian.

Father Gerald Vogin, vicar general of Kompong Cham apostolic prefecture, said the visitors "showed us how they can help other people with their own hands and with their own money."

The Paris Foreign Missions priest also said it was a good opportunity for a cultural exchange -- it was a chance to motivate young Cambodians to learn foreign languages, and for the young Singaporeans to see how the lifestyle in Cambodia contrasts with that of their developed island-nation.

Sok Heang, 20, a resident at the students' center, said he was very happy to meet the Singaporeans, practice his English, and exchange ideas and experiences. He said he now feels more motivated to learn foreign languages so that he can communicate with people around the world.

Singaporean students painting pictures at the child-care center

The students' center provides accommodation to boys aged 15-22 years who study in public high schools.

Seventeen-year-old Singaporean Ning Yu said his team's visit to Cambodia was an eye-opening experience for all. He added that they resolved to continue doing social work back home by caring for elderly people and assisting the less fortunate.

The trip helped the students "to be thankful that their parents provide well for them," said Teo Ming Ern, one of three teachers who accompanied the Singaporean youngsters. "Here, they can see many children who don't have an education and live in poor conditions."

He expressed hope that his students will now think twice about what they spend money on, as well as learn to relate with people of different cultures and backgrounds.

This is the fourth year that Hwa Chong Institution has organized such a program for its students. This year, besides Kompong Cham, another group of Hwa Chong students went to Siem Reap on a similar program.

Hun Sen meets with Malaysian ex-PM


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 3 (Xinhua)-- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen met with Malaysian former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday in Phnom Penh to talk on Muslim community in Cambodia, a spokesman for Hun Sen said.

Following the meeting, Eang Sophallet, spokesman for Hun Sen told reporters that Mahathir, who is on a two-day visit to Cambodia, had told Hun Sen that his mission this time was to help Cambodian Muslim community in his capacity as a president of the Muslim Healthcare Community in Malaysia.

Mahathir's visit was made two weeks after a Cambodian Muslim community in the northern outskirts of Phnom Penh -- suffered fire that destroyed hundreds of houses.

Muslim minority in Cambodia, known as Cham are making up some 4percent of the total country's population of 14 million people.

During the talks, Mahathir commended Hun Sen's leadership that has led the country into harmonious society with no discrimination to any races.

Also, during the talks, Hun Sen suggested Malaysia open more markets for Cambodian rice production.

Editor: Xiong Tong

Cambodia Was Criticized from Different Sides over Human Rights Issues – Wednesday, 2.12.2009

Posted on 3 December 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 641

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

“At the beginning of the UN Human Rights Council meeting on Monday, 1 December 2009, Cambodia was criticized from different sides over human rights issues, including housing rights, attacks on its citizens, and injustice at the courts.

“Created in 2006, the Universal Periodic Reviews by this council checks the human rights practices of the 192 members states of the United Nations every four years in order to solve problems of human rights violations and to promote the respect of international human rights.

“A researcher of Amnesty International, Ms. Brittis Edman, said on Monday that she hopes that land ownership rights and housing issues will be the most important agenda items of the meeting in Switzerland.

“Ms. Edman wrote in her email, ‘It is the very important that forced evictions and housing rights are brought to be discussed and reflected in the report on the findings. It is also important that all the monitoring states call on their governments to approve and to strengthen laws that clearly ban forced evictions.’

“Most non-government organizations working on human rights, that were invited to express suggestions regarding human rights problems on the record of the government, presented notes to the UN Human Rights Council, using serious words against Cambodia.

“A submission by Human Rights Watch, an international organization, says, ‘While Cambodia had experienced strong economic growth since the UN-brokered elections in 1993, the government has treated respect for human rights as an obstacle, rather than an aid, to development.’

“This submission specifically addressed concerns about the lack of independence at the courts, intimidation against freedom of expression, forced evictions, and violence against women, among other problems.

“In contrast, the document submitted by the government to the council says, ‘The Royal Government guarantees rights and freedoms, and continues with its commitment to achieve the best human rights for Cambodian citizens.’ But it has provided little documented evidence about the achievements of those rights.

“Responding to criticism from international human rights organizations, the government frequently called to review any problems in the context of the history of the country that has just recovered from the Khmer Rouge regime and from civil war.

“The government documentation continues to say, ‘Any human rights assessment in Cambodia should be based on considerations about the previous situation, on the efforts made during the first stage following the Paris Peace Agreements [of 1991].’

“The deputy head of the Human Rights Committee of the Cambodia government, Mr. Mak Sambath, said on Monday that Cambodia will be presented during the Universal Periodic Review by members of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee Mr. Touch Khemarin and Mr. Ith Rady, who is an undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Justice.

“Mr. Mak Sambath said, ‘They have the ability to work on the task because they have worked a lot with the government and with civil society.

“He added that the independence of the courts, the freedom of expression, and violence against women, are issues expected to be presented during the review.

“Both the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and Amnesty International said on Monday that they have representatives to present their cases.

“Not only the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Surya Subedi, who had reported to see serious human rights violations in Cambodia, but also several other countries consider that Cambodia is under oppressive rule, though this country has international agreements about the respect of democracy, which includes the respect for human rights as a major point of policy.”

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1824, 2.12.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Uighur protesters land in Cambodia

Activists concerned group of 22 could be sent back to China

By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 3, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Twenty-two members of a Chinese ethnic group who participated in violent demonstrations against China last summer have surfaced in Cambodia, sparking concerns that Cambodia will ignore their requests for asylum and return them to China.

The 22 Uighurs, including three children, trickled into Cambodia over the past several weeks, according to Omar Kanat, vice president of the World Uyghur Congress, a group that advocates for the rights of Uighurs in China. He said that two additional Uighurs have been detained in neighboring Vietnam and that five others, who were known to have fled China into Vietnam, have disappeared.

Violent anti-China demonstrations led by Uighurs rocked Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region of northwest China, on July 5.

At least 200 people died in the bedlam that involved Uighurs attacking Han Chinese and then bands of Han Chinese retaliating against Uighurs. Last month, China's state-run media reported that nine Uighurs had been executed for taking part in the riots. Kanat and other sources said that seven of the men who fled to Cambodia were wanted by the Chinese.

The Chinese government blamed the unrest on Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman who had been jailed in China and then exiled to the United States after pressure from the Bush administration.

A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington said that Beijing wanted the Uighurs to be returned to China and that only a "handful of Uighurs in China are engaged in national splitism, religious extremism and violent terrorism."

A State Department spokeswoman said it is department policy not to comment on asylum cases.

Uighurs constitute a mostly Muslim ethnic group that speaks a Turkic language. For years, Uighur separatists have conducted a sometimes violent campaign against China's rule of the resource-rich Xinjiang region.

Cambodia has a troubled history when it comes to refugee rights. Human Rights Watch criticized Cambodia in a report this year for sending asylum-seekers back to Vietnam.

"Cambodia is not a good place to be a refugee these days," said Sophie Richardson, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division.

Red carpet for "spy's mum"

Thu, Dec 03, 2009
The Nation/Asia News Network

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Mother of the detained Thai engineer received a warm welcome in Phnom Penh yesterday, with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An waiting for her at the airport.

This second visit, facilitated by opposition Pheu Thai Party, allowed Simarak na Nakhon Phanom to spend two hours with her son Sivarak Chutipong at the Prey Sor prison on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital. She was also allowed to give him basic necessities and food.

Sivarak was arrested on November 12 over charges of spying on ex-Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra, stealing his flight schedule and passing it on to a Thai diplomat who was later expelled from Cambodia.

Speaking via telephone from Phnom Penh, Simarak said she wanted to thank Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for allowing her to visit her son, as well as Sok An for meeting her at the airport and escorting her to the prison. She said the visit had been made very easy and had come as a surprise to Sivarak.

"My son is healthy," she said.

She also thanked Pheu Thai Party for facilitating her visit - former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama used his connections in Phnom Penh to help.

Simarak previously visited her son last Friday with the assistance of the Thai Foreign Ministry, but later she attacked the ministry for being too slow in getting Sivarak out of prison. She was in Cambodia for 12 hours last Friday for a one-and-a-half hour meeting with her son. This time though she was allowed to stay overnight in the capital and also go sightseeing before she takes a flight back today.

When asked about her relying on the opposition party, Simarak said she did not care that it had caused a political conflict because she was willing to do anything to save her son. "I have no hidden agenda, no politics, but will use every channel I can to see my son," she said.

Sivarak's arrest is believed to be part of the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia, because he was arrested in connection with Thaksin, who was appointed by Hun Sen as an economic adviser.

Angered by Thaksin's appointment, Thailand downgraded diplomatic relations with Cambodia and reviewed many cooperation projects. The government has also blamed Thaksin for manipulating conflicts between the two countries.

Noppadon, meanwhile, said the government's moves against Cambodia could end up costing a lot, adding that Thaksin should not be blamed for the slump in foreign relations because he had suggested several times that Thailand reconcile with Cambodia.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya should also make clear whether the government wants to revoke the maritime deal with Cambodia, he said.

The Cabinet decided to terminate the 2001 memorandum of understanding on overlapping claims on the continental shelf but it needs to be approved by Parliament before Phnom Penh is notified.

"Just threatening to withdraw from the maritime deal is not appropriate. Instead, the government should make a clear decision and inform Phnom Penh in writing soon," Noppadon said.

2 tons of snakes, tortoises seized in Cambodia

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodian police confiscated two tons of live snakes and tortoises and arrested two men trying to smuggle the slithering cargo up a river from Cambodia to Vietnam, authorities said Thursday.

Acting on a tip, police intercepted the boat Wednesday on the Bassac River in southeastern Cambodia just before it crossed into Vietnam. They found 3,640 pounds (1,655 kilograms) of snakes, mostly pythons, and 263 tortoises that weighed a combined 697 pounds (317 kilograms), said Col. Chan Savouen, deputy police chief of Kandal province.

"Snakes and tortoises are rare reptiles in our country and are strongly prohibited from being hunted and trafficked," he said.

Police arrested two Cambodians, aged 17 and 20, who said they were hired to transport the cargo but did not know the identities of their employers. They said some of the reptiles had been illegally hunted in Cambodia and others were trafficked from neighboring Thailand, Chan Savouen said.

The snakes and tortoises were released into the wild on Wednesday, he said.

Vietnam is often used as a transit point for trafficking illegal wildlife from Southeast Asia to China to feed its market for exotic pets and foods.

Cambodian PM denies interfering with KRouge court

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned that pursuing more Khmer Rouge suspects from the 1970s could spark civil war

The skull of a Khmer Rouge victim seen on display at the Choeung Ek memorial stupa near Phnom Penh

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday denied interfering with the UN-backed Khmer Rouge court, but repeated warnings that pursuing more suspects from the 1970s regime could spark civil war.

"I am not interfering with the court. But it is not the court that stopped the war. Be careful -- the court will create war, causing division of society again," Hun Sen said in a speech in the capital Phnom Penh.

The premier made his remarks days after lawyers for a former Khmer Rouge leader demanded that investigators at the war crimes tribunal question Hun Sen and government officials over alleged interference.

"Again and again, I see they want to question (more people). Be careful, this is the issue of death," Hun Sen said during a ceremony to mark the international day of disabled people.

Hun Sen went on to repeat warnings that he would rather see the court fail than expand prosecutions beyond the five former Khmer Rouge leaders currently detained for their roles in the regime which killed up to two million people.

Final arguments in the court's first trial, of prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, concluded last week.

The court plans to prosecute former Khmer Rouge ideologue Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, minister of social affairs Ieng Thirith sometime in 2011.

"Let's try these few senior leaders," the premier said.

"No more, I am sorry. I tell you that I would prefer the court to fail. But I will not let war happen. If it fails, let it fail."

He went on to blast foreign nations for not "daring to talk about the prosecution of the Khmer Rouge" when they were still a strong communist movement.

The tribunal was created in 2006 to try leading Khmer Rouge members, and is holding five former leaders on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It has not yet ruled whether to prosecute additional suspects.

The process has often been hit by allegations that Hun Sen's administration has attempted to interfere in the tribunal to protect former regime members who are now in government.

The Khmer Rouge were ousted by Vietnamese-led forces in 1979 after nearly four years of iron-fisted rule, but continued to fight a civil war until 1998. Hun Sen was a former Khmer Rouge guerilla who defected in 1977.

Cambodia Recalls History of Resistance

Thursday, 03 December 2009 04:08 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The National Assembly (NA) President Heng Samrin on Wednesday spoke to mark the 31st anniversary of the creation of the Solidarity Front (02 December, 1978-02 December, 2009) held at Chaktomuk hall on Wednesday

The NA president recalled the history of the Solidarity Front, the first effective resistance against the Khmer Rouge. “We all struggle to remember the past when we were miserable and bereaved during the 3 years, 8 months and 20 days under the Khmer Rouge regime,” he said. “The Khmer Rouge regime struggled over the success of Cambodia people to be independent, peace and freedom, and destroyed things … such as the national infrastructure.”

The NA president said that on December 2, 1978, the Solidarity Front changed its name to the Solidarity Front for the Development of the Cambodian Motherland in the ‘liberation region’ in Chheung Chhlou Village, Snuol Commu- nce, Snuol District, Kratie province.

Cheam Yeab, NA Commission 2 president, called on Cambodians not to forget the history of December 2 and January7. “I lost nearly 30 relatives including my children, uncles, brothers.”

“If you drink water, you do not forget the source of the water,” Cheam Yeab told DAP News Cambodia during his talk with Soy Sopheap, DAP Media Center General-Director on Wednesday.

Heng Samrin also confirmed that the Cambodian government congratulates fugitive Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra for his appointment as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s and the government’s economic advisor. His remarks came after the two countries diplomatic tie have deteriorated after Bangkok leaders recalled their ambassador to Phnom Penh after anger at the appointment of Thaksin as PM Hun Sen’s advisor.

At the end of the ceremony, some representatives from state ministries and embassies in Cambodia provided garlands for the NA president.

Detained Thai Spy Meets His Mother Second Time

Thursday, 03 December 2009 04:06 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The detained Thai engineer charged in Cambodia of stealing fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra’s flight plans on Wednesday morning met his mother, Simaluck Na Nakhon, at Prey Sar Prison on the outskirts of Phnom Penh for the second time since he was arrested by Cambodian authorities on November 11.

However, a Cambodian Foreign Ministry official said that so far the ministry has yet to receive any official letter or confirmation of the visit.

“The Foreign Ministry has not received the formal letter or confirmation as … Phnom Penh asked,” Koy Kuong, MFA spokesman, told DAP News Cambodia on Wednesday.

According reports from Bangkok, Simaruck would stay one night in Phnom Penh or stay here until the day that the Phnom Penh court proceeds the trial asked for bail on December 4.

Also, she will attend a court session on December 8 in Phnom Penh. However, Sivarak reiterated that he did not do anything against the Cambodian laws as the information about Thaksin’s flight plans were not confidential.

The secretary-general of the New Politics Party has raised suspicions about the Thai engineer’s mother for seeking assistance from the Pheu Thai Party, According to TNA in Bangkok.

He also believes that Thakin is using the engineer for political gain.

Secretary-General of the New Politics Party Suriyasai Katasila has made a comment about Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s criticism of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Suriyasai believes that Cambodia is prepared to confront Thailand on many issues.

The Cambodian Government confirmed that Thai workers at Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS) have not been fired, contrary to reports in the Thai press. Thai workers have been barred from entering technical rooms as this duty is responsibility of the Cambodian government.

The confirmation comes after Thai newspapers as saying that the Cambodian government fired 9 Thai workers at CATS. Thai media also made much of a Cambodia’s arrest of Sivarak Chutipong, 31. Phnom Penh Municipal Court has remanded the suspect in Prey Sar after charges of stealing fugitive former Thai Primer Minister Thaksin Sinawatra’s flight schedule during his 4-day trip to Cambodia on November 10, 2009.

Cambodia Claims to be Aware of Downturn

Thursday, 03 December 2009 04:02 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

A Cambodian Government official on Wednesday confirmed that Cambodia is trying to boost the economy as Camb- odia is affected by the ongoing global downturn.

Secretary of State for the Commerce Ministry Pan Sosak made the claim at a forum on Cambodia’s economy with Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar at the Le Royal Hotel.

Cambodia will increase tax collection in keeping with macro economic stabilityand boost competitiveness.

“Meanwhile, we have to improve some fields such as garments, tourism, telecommunications, small, average, and big enterprises, share markets, powe r, and oil exploitation to keep productivity and competition,” he stated.

Cambodian government officials and South Korean investors on signed a US$6 million agreement to building the of the Financial Develop-ment District (FDD), to be located in CAMKO City and scheduled to complete the construction in late 2010. Some view has risen that Cambodia will gain more economic improvement following Fugitive Former Thaksin Sinwatra as Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen’s advisor and the government’s advisor on economic works as Thaskin was clever with economic leading while he was Thai prime Minister.

Greece Man Delay to Convicts

Thursday, 03 December 2009 04:01 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

A Greek man on Wednesday appeared in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court over charges buying sex and capturing indecent images

The charges date to 2008, Judge Din Sivuthy heard. On December 2 charged that the accused, Kamplios Christian, 62, had allegedly solicited a girl under 18 years old for buying sex and had captured images of the Cambodian girl twice.

“The Greek defendant in the case had twice raped the under-18 Cambodian girl with pictures,” Phnom Penh Municipal Judge Din Sivuthy said.

Kamplios Christian told the court that “I knew her for more than two months … we went to a guest house in Boeung Kak.”

“I ‘rested’ with her for twice times. The Cambodian girl said that “Christian promised to pay me more if I agreed to let him take pictures.”

Christian denied that allegation “I did not intend to take her picture—she asked me to do it to make it more romantic.”

The Cambodian girl complained that “He promised me US$5, but he paid only US$3. I had worked since mid-2008and my Khmer customers paid me about US$4 and foreigners about US$10-15 each time.”

Christian said in court he arrived in Cambodia in November 2008 as a football trainer.

The defendant’s lawyer, Nourn Phanith, asked the judge to deport Christian from Cambodia and fine him US$5,000.

Prosecutor Sok Kaliyan said “Chris-tian recognized his actions so I would like to ask the judge to delay to convict on this case.”

Dun Vibol, another defense lawyer, said the defendant “is an old man. He denied having sex with the victim with only a massage and the pictures were a game of the victim to be more attractive in a sexual way.”

Vibol suggested that “If my defendant was at fault, please fine him.”

Judge Din Sivuthy said he would retire to consider his verdict.

Fires Down in 2009

Thursday, 03 December 2009 03:33 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

There were 46 cases of fire in 2009 until now with authorities intervening in 40 cases, according to Cambodian Security Fire Police Chief (CSFP) on Wednesday.

CSFP Net Vatha told DAP News Cambodia that large blazes had caused damage in Chraing Chamreh, Russey Keo district, near Beoung Kak Lake, Chraing Bak (Stung Meanchey bridge), and Chamkar Morn district of Phnom Penh.

The regions most devastated had narrow roads and closely packed houses, he said.

The force is also hampered by a lack of resources. “Now, our office is very poor; we have only 82 staff with 9 fire engines for Cambodia, so it is very hard to help.”

The main cause of fires is poor electricity lines, he said.

Vatha suggested Cambodians be more careful and refuse to pay any fire crews asking for money. “No payments [are due and] … if someone demands money to intervene, please report to me and to the local authority.

CLMV Meeting on Economic Recession

Thursday, 03 December 2009 03:33 DAP-NEWS

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The Cambodian Ministry of Com-merce and the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) with support from the Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia on Wednesday hosted a regional seminar on the economic recession to seek ways to improve economic recovery.

The experts from famous financial institutions have contributed ideas to help the economic recovery, Prince Norodom Sirivudh, founder and chairman of CICP, said in his opening remarks of the seminar. CICP is the co-organizer to host the regional seminar with participation from officials from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV). The four countries are the young member of ASEAN and are still poor and we have to meet to seek ways to deal this economic downturn, he said.

“The recent tension between Cam-bodia and Thailand is also our concern because we feared that I could affect to trade and economic sector and regional cooperation, he noted. “Our experts in this seminar will seek ways to help to deal economic recession,” he added.

Pan Sorasak, secretary of state for the Trade Ministry, said that Cambodian government is trying its measures against this financial crisis. “Now that agricultural sector our potential one and it is still playing a key role for our economy,” Pan said, adding that real estate, tourism, and garment affected from this crisis. “And now the government also strengthen the social safety network and provide and fund to help training workers who lost jobs,” he added.

At the same time, Mitsuhiro Kagami, president of Bangkok research center said that for late comer countries in Asean like CVML need to revitalize economy and utilization of official direct aid is important factor, and utilization of investment to revitalize the economy. Late comer countries were not influenced by present financial crisis because of light involvement in financial opening –up and those countries highly involved in exports were affected by the recession in advanced. “ We should increase domestic demand to cope with recession. The government role for this time needs direct subsidy like lump –sum grants, tax reduction on gasoline, and provide loans for SMEs and pour more money on public investment for employment,” he added.

Hun Sen denies interference

'I am not interfering with the court. But it is not the court that stopped the war. Be careful - the court will create war, causing division of society again,' Hun Sen said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Dec 3, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH - CAMBODIAN Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday denied interfering with the UN-backed Khmer Rouge court, but repeated warnings that pursuing more suspects from the 1970s regime could spark civil war.

'I am not interfering with the court. But it is not the court that stopped the war. Be careful - the court will create war, causing division of society again,' Hun Sen said in a speech in the capital Phnom Penh.

The premier made his remarks days after lawyers for a former Khmer Rouge leader demanded that investigators at the war crimes tribunal question Mr Hun Sen and government officials over alleged interference.

'Again and again, I see they want to question (more people). Be careful, this is the issue of death,' Mr Hun Sen said during a ceremony to mark the international day of disabled people.

He went on to repeat warnings that he would rather see the court fail than expand prosecutions beyond the five former Khmer Rouge leaders currently detained for their roles in the regime which killed up to two million people.

Final arguments in the court's first trial, of prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, concluded last week. The court plans to prosecute former Khmer Rouge ideologue Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, minister of social affairs Ieng Thirith sometime in 2011. -- AFP

Cambodia's domestic rubber prices rise 44%: report


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's domestic rubber prices rose 44 percent in the past year, according to a report published Thursday by Phnom Penh Post.

The Post quoted Ly Phalla, director general of Rubber Department as saying that the Standard Malaysian Rubber 20 variety was up to 2,435 U.S. dollars per ton at the end of last month from 1,686 U.S. dollars per ton a year earlier as global demand improved.

"There is high demand for rubber in the global vehicle industry, especially from China, while production (globally) has fallen," he was quoted as saying and added that the recent rise in crude oil prices on global markets has also pushed up rubber prices.

Prices have recovered specially in the past five months, he said, following an average price of just 1,500 U.S. dollars per ton in the first half.

"Our rubber price has soared on the Chinese market due to high demand while other (producing) countries like Malaysia, Indonesia...were affected by the storms and flooding which damaged production," he said.

The Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) which Cambodia joined in September said that production among its 10 members fell 5.1 percent in the 12 months to September.

In 2008, ANRPC members produced over 9.13 million tons of natural rubber, but 2009 production is expected to be only 8.68 million tons.

Editor: Lin Zhi

Fish out of water

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:02 Heng Chivoan
Workers remove a fish from an outdoor tank at the Phnom Penh Centre in preparation for cleaning the tank on Tuesday. Bottom feeders, like the one shown above, are frequently kept alongside more colourful specimens such as koi and goldfish in order to reduce the amount of algal buildup in a tank.

Abused girl, 11, makes progress

Photo by: Photo Supplied
An 11-year-old girl, taken by police from a Sen Sok district home in October where she had allegedly been sold into domestic service and abused, arrives at school last week.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:04 Irwin Loy

WHEN an 11-year-old girl has spent her young life enduring slavery and beatings, even a fleeting grin can be taken as a symbol of hope.

It has been more than six weeks since police burst into a house in the capital’s Sen Sok district and discovered the young victim.

She had been held captive and forced to work as a domestic servant after she was sold to a couple when she was only 2 years old, police and rights workers said.

The constant beatings she received, which left her body covered with horrific scars, could only be described by police as torture.

“Her whole body from her head down was covered with frightening scars and wounds from her mistreatment,” police said at the time.

Today, however, those wounds are slowly healing. She is living with a foster family in a secure area run by the NGO Hagar International, which helps abused women and children.

Last week, she started school. “It’s really exciting to see her going off to school every day, with a new uniform and a new school bag,” said Sue Taylor, who manages the group’s psychosocial services department.

“She’s doing what every other child of her age should be doing in Cambodia. It’s lovely to see.”

Recently, Taylor noticed the girl was starting to smile more often. Those hints of happiness are another sign of her gradually improving psychological health.

She has already spent two weeks in hospital so that doctors could reset a fractured wrist that hadn’t healed properly. She also looks healthier, Taylor said – a result of good nutrition and the fortified soy milk she has been drinking every day.

The emotional scars are another matter. “She is starting to smile more,” Taylor said, “but you still see the pain in her eyes. That will take a long time to heal after living in fear for so long.”

Still, there are signs that her emotional recovery has started, and that she seems to have bonded with her foster mother. “It’s probably the first good relationship she’s had in her life,” Taylor said.

Ultimately, her recovery will take years. Hagar plans to help her through school, ensuring she catches up to others her age.

Taylor estimates that she’s at least two or three years behind an average child of her age. When she’s ready, she could be placed with a permanent foster family.

In the meantime, a court investigation continues into the three people arrested when police took her from her brutal existence. The three remain in pretrial detention, said Am Sam Ath, a technical superviser with rights group Licadho who has been following the case.

For now, those working with the girl are taking her recovery day by day; small signs are all reasons for hope.

The first one came weeks ago: She started playing with other kids.

“I don’t think she’s really learned to communicate as a child,” Taylor said. “It’s a lot about recovering your childhood, really, and allowing her to be a little girl again. It’s just being able to play with other children, play games and communicate. Do normal things, like girls do.”


Cambodia confronts UN panel

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:04 Sebastian Strangio

Free speech, land rights high on list of Western concerns.

LAND rights and freedom of expression dominated discussions as Cambodia came before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for its formal rights review on Tuesday.

During a three-hour session, the Council’s 47 members questioned Cambodia on rights-related issues after the presentation of a government report by Sun Suon, Cambodia’s ambassador to the UN.

“Cambodia fully shares the view that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent,” Sun Suon told the Council, adding that rights promotion should take into account the “historical, political, economic, social and cultural reality of the country and its particularities”.

But in their questions to the Cambodian delegation, several Western nations highlighted the issue of freedom of expression, brought into question after a string of lawsuits against critics of the government.

“We note a number of concerns with regard to the use of justice in order to limit freedom of expression and political freedom,” said John Von Kaufman, representing Canada.

The German delegation pointed to reports of “the intimidation of human rights defenders, NGOs, the media and even in some cases, the lifting of the immunity of parliamentarians”.

“Germany would like to know how the government reconciles such restrictive approaches … with its obligations it entered into when it ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” said German delegate Michael Klepsch.

Lina Van Der Weyden, representing Sweden, also expressed concern about increased reports of forced evictions resulting from “legally doubtful land concessions”, calling for a moratorium on evictions until the necessary “safeguards” are in place.

Other delegations, however, diverged sharply from the criticisms of Western governments. The Indian delegation, led by Gopinathan Achamkulangare, acknowledged the “challenges and constraints” faced by nations after decades of conflict, and said it “appreciates the prioritising of poverty reduction by the government in its efforts to promote human rights through the National Strategic Development Plan”.

Kyam Myo Htut from Myanmar said he was “delighted to hear of the major achievements which came in the implementation of [government development] strategies”.

When asked whether the presence of known rights abusers – including Myanmar, Russia, China and Vietnam – on the council marred the universal periodic review process, rights defenders said its composition gave little measure of its credibility and performance.

“The most important thing is its own mandate, which is comprehensive and far reaching,” Surya Subedi, the UN special rapporteur on human rights to Cambodia, said by email.

“The UPR is a relatively new mechanism, but it already has delivered some positive results for people around the globe.”

Christophe Peschoux, director of the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, said improvements in the rights situation are largely contingent on the government’s actions.

“It’s not just a one-off exercise – the UPR is one moment in a process,” he said. “But what matters more is the extent to which the government takes the [council’s] recommendations into account.”

The results from Tuesday’s session will go towards shaping an outcome document that is set to be adopted by the council today.

KRT prosecutor appointed

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:04 Robbie Corey Boulet

THE Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday announced the appointment of veteran war crimes lawyer Andrew Cayley as international co-prosecutor, filling a position that was left vacant by the departure of Robert Petit in September.

A tribunal press release noted Cayley’s extensive experience in international criminal cases, including more than 10 years at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and two years as senior prosecuting counsel at the International Criminal Court, where he led the investigation of crimes committed in Sudan’s Darfur region. His most recent work has been as a private defence attorney for former Liberian president Charles Taylor and Croatian military leader Ivan Cermak.

William Smith, who has filled in as international prosecutor on an interim basis since Petit left, and who worked with Cayley at the ICTY for a total of five years, praised his “high moral character and integrity” in an email Wednesday, adding that he had “a wealth of experience” in cases similar to those before the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“His other cases, whether acting as a prosecutor or defence attorney, contain consistent allegations that the Accused held high-level positions in which they have abused their power by participating in widespread crimes in various ways,” including by relying on “subordinates and others to carry them out”, he wrote.

Cayley’s was one of two names forwarded by the UN secretary general’s office to the Cambodian government after Petit’s departure. The final appointment was made by the Supreme Council of the Magistracy. Nicholas Koumjian, the other candidate, was appointed reserve co-prosecutor.

UN court spokesman Lars Olsen said Wednesday that Cayley was due to arrive in Cambodia “within a few weeks”.

Important decisions coming
By some accounts, the departure of Petit midway through the trial of Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, detracted from the prosecution’s performance.

A report released last week by the Asian International Justice Initiative, for example, referred to a “noticeable lack of coordination between the different prosecutors assigned to different stages of the proceedings”, among other perceived flaws.

AIJI Deputy Director Michelle Staggs Kelsall said Wednesday that Cayley’s experience would be a boon to the prosecution during the tribunal’s second case, which is set to try the four other regime leaders currently in custody.

“For the complexities of that case, with multiple accused and with the various issues that will be confronting the prosecution in bringing that to trial, you need somebody with extensive expertise in complex investigations, and Mr Cayley obviously fits the bill,” she said.

Heather Ryan, a trial monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, noted that Cayley might soon be called on to make “a lot of important decisions” as the investigation wraps up, such as whether to submit additional investigative requests. Judges have said they would try to complete the investigation by the end of the year.

“Whoever is going to be the prosecutor to take that case all the way to trial should be the one to make those decisions, because they will impact the trial,” Ryan said, adding that other unresolved issues include the potential application of joint criminal enterprise and genocide charges.

Kraya eviction put off for another two days

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A villager sits at his home in Kraya commune, Kampong Thom, last week. Kraya residents are facing eviction.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:04 May Titthara

PLANS to forcibly evict residents from Kraya commune in Kampong Thom’s Santuk district have been put on hold for a further 48 hours.

Santuk district Governor Pich Sophea met with 20 commune representatives on Wednesday, who asked for more time to relay messages back to the commune. “If, in two days, they still refuse to move from the village, we will stop negotiating and evict them,” Pich Sophea said.

On November 16, villagers burned several vehicles owned by Vietnamese rubber firm Tin Bien, which was granted the 8,000-hectare area in an economic land concession in 2007.

The same plot has been home to hundreds of disabled veterans and their families since 2004. Their right to live on the land was acknowledged by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2007, shortly before the land was sold, villagers say.

Pou Kin, one of the representatives, said the reprieve was unlikely to end peacefully. “I think violence will not be avoided because both sides are still clinging to their own policy,” he said. “The authorities have asked us to move to a new location, but I need to take this news to my villagers – most of whom have already said they will not move.”

Mother visits alleged spy a second time

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:04 James O’toole and Cheang Sokha

THE mother of a Thai national detained on spying charges arrived in Phnom Penh on Wednesday to visit him in prison for the second time, this time with help from the Thai opposition.

Simarak na Nakhonphanom met with Noppadon Pattama, legal adviser to fugitive Thai former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and officials from the Puea Thai Party in Thailand before departing for Phnom Penh. Puea Thai is associated with the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), also known as the Red Shirts, and with Thaksin. Simarak’s son, 31-year-old Sivarak Chutipong, was arrested November 12 for leaking Thaksin’s flight schedule to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh during the onetime telecom mogul’s visit to the Kingdom last month.

UDD international spokesman Sean Boonpracong said Sivarak’s mother’s choice to seek help from the Thai opposition was natural given the recent rancour between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

“His mother came to our party because she thought that since we have some influence with Hun Sen, it would be advantageous,” Sean said, adding that in the diplomatic row between the two countries, Abhisit “overreacted from the beginning and created unnecessary tension”.

Noppadon coordinated the visit of Sivarak’s family to Cambodia and covered their expenses, the Thai News Agency quoted Puea Thai spokesman Prompong Nopaparit as saying.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said the Thai government is not put off by the opposition’s involvement in the case.

“It’s understandable that any mother would try to do her best for her child,” Thani said. “As far as the government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are concerned, we’ll continue to do our best to help Khun Sivarak.”

Mong Kim Heng, director of Prey Sar prison, said Sivarak met with his mother and brother, Pongsuree Chutipong, for about an hour on Wednesday morning.

Sivarak has a bail hearing at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday, and his trial is scheduled for December 8. If convicted of threatening national security under Article 19 of the 2005 Law on Archives, he could receive up to 15 years in prison. His family visited him at Prey Sar for the first time last week.

Govt celebrates Solidarity Front

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Women dance with flags during a performance to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Solidarity Front for Development of the Cambodian Motherland at Chaktomuk Theatre on Tuesday.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)
Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:03 Khouth Sophakchakrya

SENIOR officials were on hand Wednesday to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Solidarity Front for the Development of the Cambodian Motherland, a Khmer Rouge-era forerunner to the current CPP government.

During a ceremony at Chaktomuk Theatre, National Assembly and Solidarity Front President Heng Samrin reminded attendees of the role the nascent group played in overthrowing Pol Pot’s regime.

“During the Khmer Rouge regime, the Cambodian country was turned into a killing field, whose tears remain in the minds of the people,” he told the audience. The Solidarity Front was established on December 2, 1978, in Chheung Chhlou village, in a liberated region in Kratie province’s Snuol district, as an advance guard for the Vietnamese offensive that toppled the Pol Pot regime.

Villagers questioned in Chi Kraeng dispute

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:03 Rann Reuy

Siem Reap Province

THREE men from Chi Kraeng commune were questioned in Siem Reap Provincial Court for two hours Wednesday in connection with their involvement in a November 2008 altercation with two men from neighbouring Anlong Samnor commune. Judges said they would issue a verdict on December 7.

The three men – Chan Leap, 39, Sim Leap, 59, and Cheng Savoeun, 30 – are charged with illegal detention, as are two other men who are being tried in absentia. The two complainants in the case say they were forcibly detained by the group for seven hours on November 29 last year after they tried to plant rice on part of a 475-hectare plot of disputed land.

The case is just one aspect of a land dispute between the two communes that spilled over into violence in March when about 100 armed police officiers opened fire on 80 Chi Kraeng villagers caught harvesting crops on the land, which has been officially designated part of Anlong Samnor.

A total of 11 Chi Kraeng villagers are currently in prison on charges related to the dispute.

Path to hearing blocked
Rights group workers and Chi Kraeng residents said district police blocked a group of 25 villagers from attending Wednesday’s hearing.

Chap Voeun, the wife of Chan Leap, said the group woke up before 4am to drive to the court but were stopped en route by the police officers. She and the wives of the two other men were allowed to attend the hearing after staffers from the rights group Licadho intervened, she said, but the rest of the villagers were not.

Touch Sakal, Chi Kraeng district police chief, said his officials intercepted the villagers after hearing that they were planning to try to “disturb the court”.

“They tried to get through by saying that they were on their way to work in Thailand,” he said. “Maybe if they had told us the truth, we would have let them go. But we let the wives of the defendants go after Licadho requested.”

Court calls doctors to testify

Photo by: Irwin Loy
Ly Kok Meng, whose 23-year-old wife died last month at the Cambodian-Russian Friendship Hospital.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Chrann Chamroeun

MEDICAL staffers at a prominent Phnom Penh hospital could face questions about accusations of carelessness following the death of a woman during childbirth last month, court officials confirmed Wednesday.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has “invited” several doctors and a midwife from the Cambodian-Russian Friendship Hospital to testify next week, Court Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun said.

“I summoned several involved doctors last week following a complaint from the victim’s family,” said Sok Roeun, who would not elaborate on the case nor specify how many medical staffers he planned to interview.

“The first step will be to hear their testimony about the facts,” he said.

Ban Rany, 23, died early last month after her husband rushed her to the hospital.

Nine months pregnant, Ban Rany was to have given birth imminently. Instead, said her husband Ly Kok Meng, she burst into convulsions after being injected with a serum meant to boost her energy. She died minutes later, along with her unborn child.

The woman’s family immediately accused the medical staff of negligence; the hospital insisted Ban Rany died following an unpreventable allergic reaction to the serum.

A month after losing his wife, Ly Kok Meng said his views have not changed.

“I am still unhappy with those doctors,” he said. “My wife will still not be alive if I forgive them, but I just want to find justice for her.”

Ly Kok Meng said he has no plans to seek monetary compensation for his wife’s death through a civil complaint.

“What I want most is the court to find justice for her,” he said. “I always dream about what happened in that hospital room the day she died.”

However, the criminal justice system may not have the tools to resolve such cases, one observer said.

The criminal code lacks basic malpractice laws, making allegations of negligence difficult to fit within the current system, said Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project.

“It is really difficult to charge [someone accused of malpractice] according to our law,” Sok Sam Oeun said.

“In such cases, the doctor has no intention to kill. The intention is to help,” said Sok Sam Oeun, who suggested that complainants with similar allegations settle their disputes through a civil system of monetary compensation.

The director of the hospital, Dr Say Sengly, declined to comment Wednesday, saying he was busy in a meeting.

Speaking last month after the original allegations were aired, however, Say Sengly denied any wrongdoing in the case.

“We were not careless. We tried to help his wife,” he said.


Govt OKs trafficking agreement with VN

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:03 Tep Nimol and Chhay Channyda

CAMBODIAN and Vietnamese officials plan to sign an agreement today that will formalise and streamline the policies law enforcement agencies must follow when returning victims of trafficking to their respective countries, officials said Wednesday.

John McGeoghan, project coordinator of the Phnom Penh office at the International Organisation on Migration, which is involved in the programme, said the signing would allow for the implementation of a 2005 agreement calling for the repatriation of trafficking victims to be sped up.

At a press briefing attended by Ith Sam Heng, minister of social affairs, veterans and youth rehabilitation, and Le The Tiem, the vice chair of Vietnam’s National Standing Committee on Anti-Trafficking, officials also reported 11-month totals for migrants who had been repatriated:

Though only 11 Vietnamese had been repatriated, a total of 773 Cambodians had been returned from Vietnam. That figure is up from 298 in 2008.

Not all of those were victims of trafficking, McGeoghan noted.

“The actual number is basically poor families in Svay Rieng who cross the border to do day labour. Some of them go to panhandle in Ho Chi Minh,” he said.

Kong Chhan, technical deputy director general at the Social Affairs Ministry, said during the press briefing that human trafficking is still an issue for both countries.

“Many of these victims are cheated by promises that they will get jobs with a good salary,” he said.

City Hall to speed up firehouse construction

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Fire trucks battle the blaze at Russey Keo last month. After the fire destoyed more than 200 homes, authorities have sped up the construction of a new fire station in the district.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:03 Khuon Leakhana and Chhay Channyda

AUTHORITIES have accelerated the construction of a fire station in Russey Keo district after a fire in Chraing Chamres II commune destroyed more than 200 homes and left nearly 2,000 people homeless last month, an official said Wednesday.

“The new station will ease the work of our firefighters. It will help them put out a fire quickly when there is a blaze nearby,” said Neth Vantha, director of the Phnom Penh Fire Department.

He said the station’s construction began last year but that last month’s fire had motivated authorities to hasten its completion. The new station will measure 30 metres wide and 100 metres in length.

“Right now, there are 15 fire trucks [in Phnom Penh], but only 10 fire trucks are working. Half of them will be sent to the new station. Another 10 trucks will arrive,” he added.

Russey Keo district Deputy Governor Ly Rosamy said she does not know when the new station will be complete, but that it should guard against future conflagrations.

“The station will encourage people living in the area to be cautious of fire,” she said.

Those residents affected by last month’s blaze are currently living in makeshift tents on their land and are calling for additional support from authorities.

“We are cold because we live in tents,” said resident Seng Matt Ly.

He added that officials have started measuring roads in the commune to ensure that new roads will be 4 metres wide so that the fire department can have easy access.

Last month’s blaze spread quickly partly because authorities were unable to access the area easily via its tight roads. “Some alleyways will need to be widened a half-metre or one meter,” he said.

City blocks request for rights day parade

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:03 Meas Sokchea

CITY Hall has rejected an application from a coalition of NGOs requesting permission to parade through central Phnom Penh to mark Human Rights Day next Thursday, Suon Sareth, executive secretary of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), said on Wednesday.

Suon Sareth said the group submitted a letter of permission for the march to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema on November 5. On Wednesday, he said, CHRAC received a letter from Kep Chuktema rejecting the proposal to hold the parade.

He vowed that the groups involved would defy the governor’s refusal – made in accordance with the new Law on Demonstrations – and march next week. “We will not use the parade to oppose any political party or cause any damage to property,” he said. “We just want to celebrate human rights.”

Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Villagers decry govt order to destroy reservoirs for farms

Photo by: Photo Supplied
Villagers survey the ruins of a home in Kampong Thom that was destroyed by Typhoon Ketsana when it hit Cambodia at the end of September. The storm killed 43 people.

Our people don’t have enough food to support their families.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 03 December 2009 15:03 Khouth Sophakchakrya

STILL reeling from Typhoon Ketsana, farmers in Kampong Thom province say a government order to destroy 16 manmade reservoirs will put even more pressure on villagers still struggling to feed themselves.

The farmers have been digging the large reservoirs every year in a flooded forest area. During the wet season, the banks of the Tonle Sap river swell and douse the land, creating the flooded forests. When dry season comes, however, the farmers dig reservoirs in low-lying areas of the forest to retain a stock of water meant to feed their parched rice fields.

“We will have no food to eat, and we will starve to death if the government does not allow us to plant rice crops this dry season,” said Kim Sokhen, a representative of the farmers in Kampong Thom’s Baray district.

The government ordered the reservoirs destroyed last month after a Ministry of Water Resources report suggested that they were impacting natural fish habitats.

District and provincial governors are backing the farmers.

“Our people don’t have enough food to support their families because of the flooding caused by Ketsana,” said Kampong Thom Governor Chhun Chhorn. “The typhoon devastated their rice crops.”

He urged the government to delay destroying the reservoirs until next year, giving the farmers time to harvest their rice this dry season.

However, officials with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the farmers’ unsanctioned moves have wrecked swathes of the flooded forest and could have “serious impacts” on the fisheries sector.

“We do not want the rice crops to destroy our fisheries resources,” said Khem Chenda, director of the Department of Administrative Affairs at the ministry.

“We can’t delay destroying these illegal reservoirs because we need to open the channels for the fish to spawn in the flooded forest.”