Saturday, 23 January 2010

A ceremony was held on Friday to mark the sixth death anniversary of Chea Vichea,


Police officers watch as a boy walks past during a march held to mark the death anniversary of Chea Vichea, former president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of Cambodia, in Phnom Penh January 22, 2010. Vichea was shot dead at a news stand in central Phnom Penh in January 2004. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)


People carry a portrait of Chea Vichea, former president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of Cambodia, and flowers in Phnom Penh January 22, 2010. A ceremony was held on Friday to mark the sixth death anniversary of Vichea, who was shot dead at a news stand in central Phnom Penh in January 2004. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)


A Cambodian boy looks at incense in front of a portrait of Chea Vichea, former president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of Cambodia, in Phnom Penh January 22, 2010. A ceremony was held on Friday to mark the sixth death anniversary of Vichea, who was shot dead at a news stand in central Phnom Penh in January 2004. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)


Cambodians burns incense while praying in front of a portrait of Chea Vichea, former president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of Cambodia, in Phnom Penh January 22, 2010. A ceremony was held on Friday to mark the sixth death anniversary of Vichea, who was shot dead at a news stand in central Phnom Penh in January 2004. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)

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Disaster-prone Southeast Asia comes up with landmark pact



A villager walks past houses damaged by Typhoon Ketsana in Cambodia's Kampong Thom province 168km (104 miles) north of the capital, Phnom Penh in this photo taken September 30, 2009. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

via CAAI News Med
22 Jan 2010
Written by: Thin Lei Win

BANGKOK (AlertNet) - Name a natural disaster, any disaster. Be it a typhoon, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide or tsunami -- all 10 countries that make up Southeast Asian bloc ASEAN have experienced them all.

The region suffered 152 natural disasters in 2008 according to ASEAN, with the biggest being Cyclone Nargis which tore through Myanmar killing nearly 140,000 people.

More recently, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia in October, around the same time successive typhoons battered Philippines and flooded Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

The region is so vulnerable to the force of nature that many in the aid community call it 'the supermarket for disasters'.

It's this constant exposure that has spurred ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to agree a legally binding pact to establish national and regional structures to deal with disasters -- the first of its kind.

"This is the Kyoto Protocol of disaster management. It's a watershed for all of us," Jerry Velasquez, senior regional coordinator for U.N. disaster agency UNISDR told AlertNet.

ASEAN hopes the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) will improve the region's ability to coordinate a response and boost its resilience to future disasters by making sure that early warning and preparedness are in place.

Experts have welcomed the pact as an encouraging move in the disaster-prone region, but enforcing it will be a big challenge for the bloc which is often criticised as a toothless organisation.

CHALLENGES

Under the agreement, which came into force on Dec. 24, 2009, governments of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are required to draw up national plans on managing disasters -- ranging from early warning and preparedness to rehabilitation and scientific research.

"AADMER will help the countries look at the same picture because they will actually have to do things step-by-step," Velasquez said. "In the past, some did the strategic national plans, some didn't. It's the same for standard operating procedures. But now because of the binding nature, all (member countries) will have to do this."

Importantly, the agreement has provisions for simplifying customs and immigration procedures in times of disasters, to avoid the kind of confusion and delays aid workers experienced in the aftermath of Nargis.

However, there is no system of sanction for countries that fail to live up to their obligations which means there is no stick to shake at member states that refuse to request aid in the aftermath of a major disaster or share scientific research.

Other concerns include the lack of sufficient numbers of staff in the ASEAN secretariat to coordinate the implementation of such a wide-ranging agreement; and funding.

Although the pact has been ratified by ASEAN, it could take years for member countries to pass the necessary changes in legislation to reflect the new agreement.

For ASEAN though, the agreement itself is a major achievement.

"Disasters occur every year and they have affected millions of people in the region," Dhannan Sunoto, head of ASEAN's disaster management & humanitarian assistance division, said. "So disaster management is something ASEAN needs to have in order to reduce the number of victims."

For a Q+A on the agreement, please click here

Reuters AlertNet is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Viettel’s Metfone tests 3G network


via CAAI News Media
Friday, 22 January 2010

Vietnamese military-owned telecoms operator Viettel, which operates in Cambodia under the Metfone banner, has begun testing its third-generation mobile network with a view to launching later this year, local daily Phnom Penh Post reports. According to Metfone’s managing director, Nguyen Duy Tho, the company hopes to install 1,500 3G base stations in the first quarter of 2010 and plans to eventually expand coverage to all districts. A further 3,000 2G cell sites and 13,000km of fibre-optic cable will also be rolled out during 1Q10. Without giving further details, Nguyen Duy Tho added that the company had met its Cambodia revenue target for 2009, although Vietnamese press have reported that Viettel generated turnover of USD70 million from its operations in Cambodia and Laos in 2009. This year Metfone aims to capture 40% of the mobile market, as well as 80% of the wireline and broadband internet sectors. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Metfone was established by Viettel in June 2007, after the company secured a GSM licence from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) in December 2006. Following investment of over USD100 million in the deployment of a 2G network, commercial services were launched in February 2009; by that date the company claimed it had garnered a subscriber base of 500,000 after just over three months of pilot operations.

Thaksin ends third Cambodia visit


By Deutsche Presse Agentur
via CAAI News Media

Phnom Penh - Thailand's fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra left Cambodia for Dubai Thursday afternoon following an overnight visit, Cambodian government spokesman Prak Sokhon said.

The visit was Thaksin's third to the Cambodian capital since being named an economic adviser to the government there in October, a move that put further strains on the already tense relationship between Thailand and Cambodia.

Prak Sokhon said he did not know whether Thaksin had met members of Puea Thai, the opposition political party in Thailand with which he is linked, during his stay.

On previous visits to Cambodia Thaksin met his political supporters from Thailand, who have vowed to escalate anti-government protests there.

Describing Thaksin's stay in Cambodia as "a stopover" en route to Dubai, Prak Sokhon said the former premier had not discussed the economy with government officials or with Prime Minister Hun Sen, with whom he dined Wednesday evening.

"When politicians meet politicians, they talk about politics," he said.

The visit was unlikely to improve ties between Thailand and Cambodia, which remain at their lowest level in years.

Cambodia appointed Thaksin, who has a two-year jail sentence still to serve in Thailand for abuse of power, as an economic adviser to the government and to Hun Sen.

Those appointments and Phnom Penh's refusal to extradite Thaksin outraged Bangkok and saw both countries withdraw their ambassadors and senior embassy staff. The ambassadors have yet to return.

This month, the Cambodian government rejected a demand by Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya that Phnom Penh dismiss Thaksin as an adviser before relations between the two countries could improve.

Bangkok considers the appointment of Thaksin, the de facto opposition leader, as interference in its internal politics.

Thaksin was prime minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006 before being toppled in a bloodless coup. He fled the country and has lived in self-imposed exile, mostly in Dubai, since August 2008.

The relationship between the two neighbours has been tense for more than a year with a number of clashes reported between their troops over a disputed piece of land near the 11th-century Preah Vihear border temple in northern Cambodia.

THE KILLING FIELDS - ACTOR'S FAMILY CALL FOR DEATH INVESTIGATION TO BE REOPENED


Oscar winner HAING NGOR's family and friends are urging Los Angeles police to re-open their investigation into the death of THE KILLING FIELDS star - because they believe his slaying was related to his role in the film.

via CAAI News Media

The Cambodian was shot and killed in 1996 in Los Angeles and his death was ruled a gang-related murder.

Police officials closed the investigation after arresting three members of an Asian-American gang and charging them with the murder.

But, 14 years after the tragedy, Ngor's family want the case re-opened because they believe a leading member of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge had ordered a hit on the actor, who was an outspoken critic of dictator Pol Pot.

The Los Angeles Police Department launched an international investigation regarding the theory, but ruled Ngor was killed during a random street robbery.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the testimony of a former Khmer Rouge prison chief last year (09) sparked requests for a reinvestigation into the murder.

Kang Kek Ieu told a United Nations tribunal in Phnom Penh that Pol Pot and his supporters were behind the incident, explaining, "Haing Ngor was killed because he appeared in the film The Killing Fields."

The slain actor's cousin, Thommy Nou, tells the Times, "I believe this 100 per cent. This was a homicide set up by the communists or possibly the Khmer Rouge. That’s what I had thought all along."

But police officials who worked the case insist they found no links to tie the murder to the Khmer Rouge and maintain Ngor was killed by teenage members of the Oriental Lazy Boyz.

During the 1998 trial, prosecutor Craig Hum argued the trio robbed Ngor for money to buy cocaine and shot him after he refused to part with a locket because it held the photo of his dead wife.

Speaking to the Times, Hum admits he's skeptical about the international hit theory: "I’m sure that people in the regime weren’t sorry to see him go, but I’m not sure if that equates to having a prominent critic murdered in the U.S."

22 January 2010

During the 6th Anniversary of Mr. Chea Vichea’s Killing, Trade Unions Can March with Flowers, but the Authorities Ban Making Political Statements – Friday, 22.1.2010

http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/


Posted on 22 January 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 648
via CAAI News Media

“Phnom Penh: 22 January 2010 is the 6th anniversary since the head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers was murdered in 2004 at a newsstand next to Wat Langka in Phnom Penh.

“To commemorate Mr. Chea Vichea, considered by workers as a hero for demanding rights and freedoms for them, trade union leaders, his family, and relatives, and his friends prepare to march with flowers on Friday 22 January 2010 at 8:30 a.m. from the trade union headquarters at House 16A, Street 360, Boeng Keng Kang III, Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh. 300 officials and members of the trade union and will join the event.

“The head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, the younger brother of Mr. Chea Vichea, Mr. Chea Mony, said that the trade union, like in previous years, will go to place flowers at the newsstand next to Wat Langaka, where Mr. Chea Vichea was shot dead.

“Mr. Chea Mony added that to place flowers to commemorate Mr. Chea Vichea in the morning of 22 January 2010 is a message to convey to the Cambodian government that six years have passed, but the real murderers who shot dead this trade union leader, who supported the opposition party, have not been prosecuted.

“It should be noted that the Phnom Penh authorities do not oppose this march to present flowers to commemorate Mr. Chea Vichea in the morning of 22 January 2010. But according to a decision that the Minister of Interior, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, has just signed to give the permission, the authorities warned that the trade union must not take the opportunity of the commemoration day to do anythings else. That means the authorities forbid the trade union from raising banners or calling out slogans. Especially, the trade union should not use the forum to make political statements. The ceremony on 22 January 2010 is just to place flowers and to light incese sticks at the newsstand. In addition, those who will participate in the event will not be allowed to march in front of the residence of Prime Minister Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen near the Independence Monument, 200 to 300 meters from the newsstand next to Wat Langka.

“However, Mr. Chea Mony called on the authorities of the government again to take action to arrest the real murderers and punish them. His trade union sets one year from now on as a deadline for the authorities of the government to identify and arrest the real murderers to be convicted – otherwise the trade union will appeal to workers countrywide to strike, not going to work.

“Regarding the appeal for the arrest of the murderers to convict them, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, General Khieu Sopheak, said that the authorities do not stay still, but are seeking to arrest the murderers, and the police has not yet closed this sensitive case.

“General Khieu Sopheak added that those appealing for the arrest of the murderers can just say so, but they do not give any testimony or evidence to guide the authorities.

“It should be remembered that after Mr. Chea Vichea was murdered on 22 January 2004, one week later, on 28 January 2004, Cambodian police arrested two men: Boun Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, and sent them to court for questioning. Later on, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced them to jail to serve 20 years in prison. However, both Boun Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun denied that they killed Mr. Chea Vichea. Local and international human rights organizations and Mr. Chea Vichea’s family all considered Boun Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun as set up to hide the real murderers.

“At last, on 31 December 2008, the Supreme Court issued a decision to release the accused Boun Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun temporarily. Also, the Supreme Court sent the murder case of Mr. Chea Vichea back to the Appeals Court to re-open the investigations again.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5106, 22.1.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 22 January 2010

China Played No Role in Khmer Rouge Politics: Ambassador


By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
22 January 2010
via CAAI News Media

China’s ambassador to Cambodia told a group Friday that the Chinese had not aided the Khmer Rouge but had sought to keep Cambodians from suffering under the regime.

“The Chinese government never took part in or intervened into the politics of Democratic Kampuchea,” the ambassador, Zhang Jin Feng, told the opening class at Khong Cheu Institute.

The Chinese did not support the wrongful policies of the regime, but instead tried to provide assistance through food, hoes and scythes, Zhang said.

“If there were no food [assistance], the Cambodian people would have suffered more famine,” she said.

The comments come as the Khmer Rouge tribunal prepares for its second trial, of five high-ranking members of the regime.

However, a leading documentarian of the regime said the Chinese may want to revise that statement, given all the evidence that points to their involvement with the Khmer Rouge.

“According to documents, China intervened in all domains from the top to lower level: security, including the export of natural resources from Cambodia, like rice, bile of tigers, bears and animal skins to exchange for agriculture instruments,” said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia.

“In the domain of security, Chinese advisers trained units to catch the enemy, and some of the trainers went to inspect the outcome of the training at the local level,” he said.

China maintained close diplomatic ties with the Khmer Rouge after they came to power. It was one of only nine communist countries to keep an embassy in the country after April 1975.

Rights Violations Worsened in 2009: Group

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
22 January 2010
via CAAI News Media

The human rights situation in Cambodia has deteriorated in the past year, Human Rights Watch said on Friday, citing numerous examples of apparent government failure to protect basic freedoms.

“Cambodia’s respect for basic rights dramatically deteriorated in 2009 as the government misused the judiciary to silence government critics, attacked human rights defenders, tightened restrictions on press freedom and abandoned its international obligations to protect refugees,” the group said in a statement, issued in the midst of a two-week visit by the UN’s special envoy for rights.

The statement coincided with the release of Human Rights Watch’s 2010 world report.

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yiep said the statement was not a fair representation of Cambodia’s rights situation. Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers called it baseless and lacking in integrity.

Human Rights Watch also cited ongoing evictions, land thefts and the arrests of community protesters and activists, along with silenced expression in the National Assembly and court trials against opposition members as evidence of the slide.

The group noted more than 60 community activists arrested or awaiting trial and at least 10 government critics, including four journalists and several opposition party members, who were sued for criminal defamation or disinformation.

The government was sharply criticized for allowing the deportation of 22 Muslim Uighurs back to China in December after they had reached Cambodia in search of refuge.

“Cambodia’s deportation of the Uighurs was a glaring example of the government’s failure to respect human rights,” Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said. “The Cambodian government showed its profound disregard for minimum standards of due process, refugee protection and international cooperation.”

Meanwhile, Khmer Kampuchea Krom seeking refuge from Vietnam or simply migrating faced obstacles in Cambodia finding places to live or getting citizenship, “despite pronouncements by the Cambodian government that it considers Khmer Krom who move to Cambodia to be Cambodian citizens,” the report said.

The rights report came as Surya Prasad Subedi, the UN special rapporteur on human rights, is in Cambodia to evaluate the rights situation.

Doctor Discusses Coronary Artery Disease

By Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Washington
22 January 2010
via CAAI News Media

Coronary artery disease is becoming one of the leading problems in the West, but it can also affect Cambodians, a doctor said Thursday.

“The most common causes of [coronary artery disease] are chest discomfort or pain, uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest that can be mild or strong,” said Dr. Taing Tek Hong, a physician in Florida, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “This discomfort or pain lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.”

The disease results from a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart and is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Western societies and has cause one out of every five deaths in the US since 2002.

Coronary artery disease is caused by build-up of fatty materiel called plaque on the wall of the arteries, he said. This causes them to get narrow, leading to the slowdown or stopping of blood flow to the heart muscle. This can cause chest pain or a heart.

Factors that increase the risk include tobacco use, alcohol abuse, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, age (in men over 40), excess body fat around the waist and lack of exercise.

Defence Ministry to hold a meeting on Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Reform


via CAAI News Media

January 22, 2010 The Cambodian minister of national defence is scheduled to hold meeting on 5-year term “2005-2009” working sum-up and planning next 5-year term “2010-2014” of reforming Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) from 27-28 January at the defence ministry.

Under Royal government’ s strategic policies and Prime Minister HUN SEN’ s high direction with wisdom, defence ministry of the kingdom of Cambodia is planning to reform RCAF for next 5-year term “2010-2014” to become modernization forces with full capacities.

The reform is aimed at increasing and building up RCAF’ s capacities in responding to the need of defence in the country, particularly the current situation along Thai-Cambodian disputed border areas near ancient temple Preah Vihear.

Confucius Institute opens Chinese-language class in Cambodia


via CAAI News Media
January 21, 2010

The Confucius Institute of the Royal Academy of Cambodia held a ceremony Thursday to celebrate the opening of its first Chinese-language class and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Zhang Jinfeng gave the first lecture titled "the History of Chinese and Cambodian Relationship."

The first class has 50 students from various ministries of the government, including the Council of Ministers, ministries of interior, defense, education and information, as well as some universities in the country.

Dr. Khlot Thyda, rector of the Royal Academy of Cambodia and the Confucius Institute, said that "the opening of its first Chinese-language class is of great significance for both sides, especially the big chance for our government officials to study and understand Chinese culture, as well as to promote the exchange of culture between the two countries."

The Confucius Institute in Cambodia, established on Dec. 22, 2009, was jointly run by the Royal Academy of Cambodia and China's Jiujiang University in Jiangxi Province.

On Dec. 22, 2009, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping unveiled the first Confucius Institute in Cambodia during his visit in Phnom Penh.

Zhang Jinfeng said that China and Cambodia have over 2,000 years of history of friendly exchanges. Since ancient times, China and Cambodia have learn from each other, and have made important contributions to the development and prosperity of oriental culture.

She also recalled the history that in 1955, Premier Zhou Enlai met with Norodom Sihanouk at the Bandung Conference that opened a new chapter in Sino-Cambodian relations.

In her nearly two-hour long lecture, Zhang said that at present, China and Cambodia have established comprehensive cooperative partnership and the two countries have a high degree of political trust and mutually beneficial economic cooperation in various fields, which she said, will be sure to achieve fruitful results, bringing the two peoples tangible benefits.

"I'm very glad to be a student of the first class of the Confucius Institute and listened the lecture given by the Ambassador Zhang," Long Chan Davy told Xinhua with exciting, adding that "I hope to learn more about China to promote the exchange of the culture of the two countries." She also expressed her hope that more and more Cambodians could come here to study Chinese culture.

Sok Chankrissna, student from a university, said that he wants to learn Chinese language "because Chinese language has become the one of the most vital languages in the world. So, more and more people want to grasp it."

"Cambodia and China have long history of friendship, and our Royal Government always pays a great attention to strengthen and develop the traditionally relations between our two countries," said Mam Chheang, student from government sector, adding "as a government official, I think it is very necessary to learn Chinese language to contribute to promoting and deepening the Cambodia and China friendship relations," he added.

The institute, which is the first in Cambodia, will offer a series of Chinese language programs to Cambodian learners and also offer training programs to Chinese language teachers here in the future, according to Wang Xianmiao, rector of the institute for the Chinese side.

Source: Xinhua

A Cambodian labor union worker, left, holds burned incense sticks above a portrait photo of Chea Vichea, Cambodia's former free trade union president, at a newsstand during the sixth anniversary of his death in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, Jan. 22, 2010. (AP)


via CAAI News Media
January 22, 2010

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia's largest labor union warned Friday that it would launch a nationwide strike unless authorities arrests those responsible for the slaying of their prominent leader six years ago.

Chea Vichea, 36, founder and president of Free Trade Union of Workers, was fatally shot in front of a newsstand in Phnom Penh on Jan. 22, 2004. He was known for his outspoken efforts to organize garment workers and improve working conditions in Cambodia.

Two men were convicted in the deaths and sentenced to 20-year prison terms, but many people believed they were framed for the crime and the country's Supreme Court has ordered a retrial.

Chea Mony, the slain leader's brother and current leader of the union, marked the sixth anniversary of the killing by leading a march of nearly 100 workers and a dozen opposition legislators to the spot where the shooting took place. The march was held under heavy security but was peaceful and no one was arrested.

"Today, I wish to send a message to the government that it is time to arrest the real murderers," Chea Mony said. "If the government continues to ignore our appeals, then we will hold a one-week, nationwide strike," he said, adding that the strike would come some time this year.

In December 2008, Cambodia's highest court provisionally released the two men convicted in the Chea Vichea slaying — Born Samnang, 24, and Sok Sam Oeun, 36 — and ordered further investigation in preparation for their retrial.

The court did not give a reason, but the decision came after widespread protests over the convictions.

Cambodia largest labour union demands "real killers" be arrested in leader's slaying


via CAAI News Media
Fri Jan 22, 3:06 AM
By The Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Cambodia's largest labour union warned Friday that it would launch a nationwide strike unless authorities arrests those responsible for the slaying of their prominent leader six years ago.

Chea Vichea, 36, founder and president of Free Trade Union of Workers, was fatally shot in front of a newsstand in Phnom Penh on Jan. 22, 2004. He was known for his outspoken efforts to organize garment workers and improve working conditions in Cambodia.

Two men were convicted in the deaths and sentenced to 20-year prison terms, but many people believed they were framed for the crime and the country's Supreme Court has ordered a retrial.

Chea Mony, the slain leader's brother and current leader of the union, marked the sixth anniversary of the killing by leading a march of nearly 100 workers and a dozen opposition legislators to the spot where the shooting took place. The march was held under heavy security but was peaceful and no one was arrested.

"Today, I wish to send a message to the government that it is time to arrest the real murderers," Chea Mony said. "If the government continues to ignore our appeals, then we will hold a one-week, nationwide strike," he said, adding that the strike would come some time this year.

In December 2008, Cambodia's highest court provisionally released the two men convicted in the Chea Vichea slaying - Born Samnang, 24, and Sok Sam Oeun, 36 - and ordered further investigation in preparation for their retrial.

The court did not give a reason, but the decision came after widespread protests over the convictions.

Former Thai PM leaves Cambodia


via CAAI News Media
January 22, 2010

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra left Cambodia on Thursday after a day stop here, a government official said.

Prak Sokhon, minister attached to Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thaksin arrived in Cambodia on Wednesday afternoon.

He said Thaksin had dinner with Prime Minister Hun Sen Wednesday in Phnom Penh.

The visit was the third by Thaksin since he was appointed as an advisor to Royal Government of Cambodia and a personal advisor to Hun Sen on economic affairs in October last year.

Thaksin's visit to Cambodia this time was only for a "transit purpose", Sokhon said, but declined to elaborate.

Other sources said Thaksin was on his way from Papua New Guinea and made a stop in Cambodia before flying to Dubai.

Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile abroad since he was toppled in 2006.

Relations between the two neighboring countries were further strained after Thaksin's appointment. Thailand recalled its ambassador on Nov. 5 last year and Cambodia made the same move shortly after.

Source: Xinhua

nnual human rights report condemns Cambodia, says donors must act


via CAAI News Media
Jan 22, 2010

Phnom Penh - A prominent human rights organization warned Friday that respect for human rights in Cambodia 'dramatically deteriorated' last year and called on donors to exert pressure on the government to reverse the trend.

The report by the US-based Human Rights Watch singled out Phnom Penh's forced return to China in December of 20 asylum seekers belonging to the Uighur ethnic minority as a particular low point.

'Cambodia's deportation of the Uighurs was a glaring example of the government's failure to respect human rights,' said Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The report was released while the UN's special rapporteur on human rights, Surya Subedi, was visiting Cambodia. Subedi is in-country for two weeks to assess the country's institutions and how well they serve ordinary Cambodians.

Among the institutions Subedi was examining is the judiciary, a body Human Rights Watch said was being misused by the government to silence its critics in politics, the media and civil society.

'As the political space shrinks for human rights and advocacy groups to defend themselves, there are valid concerns that a pending law to increase restrictions on non-governmental organizations will be used to shut down groups critical of the government,' Adams said.

Spokesmen for the Cambodian government were not immediately available to comment on the report.

Human Rights Watch complained that Cambodians who tried to defend their homes, jobs and human rights faced 'threats, jail and physical attacks.'

It called on donors, who last year contributed about 1 billion US dollars to the impoverished South-East Asian nation, to pressure the government to respect human rights.

Other subjects covered in the report were the ongoing problem of forced evictions and the use of armed police and soldiers to evict people as well as poor prison conditions and allegations of torture by police.

Human Rights Watch also condemned new legislation that limits freedom of assembly to fewer than 200 people, for which permission must be gained in advance, and said freedom of association remained under pressure.

The expulsion from Phnom Penh of the 20 Uighurs, who fled China after deadly unrest in the far-western province on Xinjiang in July, preceded a visit to Phnom Penh by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, during which China signed economic assistance deals worth 1.2 billion dollars.

A torrent of international criticism saw the government hit back at its critics with one government minister deriding the UN refugee agency in Phnom Penh as 'the laziest office' in the country for failing for weeks to begin processing the Uighurs' claims.

Cambodia labor union marks killing of leader


via CAAI News Media
AP - Friday, January 22

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodia's largest labor union warned Friday that it would launch a nationwide strike unless authorities arrests those responsible for the slaying of their prominent leader six years ago.

Chea Vichea, 36, founder and president of Free Trade Union of Workers, was fatally shot in front of a newsstand in Phnom Penh on Jan. 22, 2004. He was known for his outspoken efforts to organize garment workers and improve working conditions in Cambodia.

Two men were convicted in the deaths and sentenced to 20-year prison terms, but many people believed they were framed for the crime and the country's Supreme Court has ordered a retrial.

Chea Mony, the slain leader's brother and current leader of the union, marked the sixth anniversary of the killing by leading a march of nearly 100 workers and a dozen opposition legislators to the spot where the shooting took place. The march was held under heavy security but was peaceful and no one was arrested.

"Today, I wish to send a message to the government that it is time to arrest the real murderers," Chea Mony said. "If the government continues to ignore our appeals, then we will hold a one-week, nationwide strike," he said, adding that the strike would come some time this year.

In December 2008, Cambodia's highest court provisionally released the two men convicted in the Chea Vichea slaying _ Born Samnang, 24, and Sok Sam Oeun, 36 _ and ordered further investigation in preparation for their retrial.

The court did not give a reason, but the decision came after widespread protests over the convictions.

Expect more attacks



Mr Abhisit said officers were investigating the incident that took place in central Bangkok on January 15, although he did not confirm the specific target or the type of weapon used. -- PHOTO: AP

via CAAI News Media
Jan 21, 2010

BANGKOK - PRIME Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Thursday confirmed that Thailand's army headquarters had been attacked last week and warned that more attacks could be expected on government buildings.

Mr Abhisit said officers were investigating the incident that took place in central Bangkok on January 15, although he did not confirm the specific target or the type of weapon used.

The Thai press has widely reported that an M79 grenade was fired at the office of powerful army chief General Anupong Paojinda in the attack. 'I have discussed the incident with Anupong,' Mr Abhisit told reporters, adding that it 'seemed designed to grab media attention. 'Given the timing and place of the attack, it was not aimed at killing anyone,' he said.

'The army has to look at their security precautions and have every agency concerned on alert. I have already told them that this kind of incident would be more frequent from now on, in order to stir up unrest,' he said.

Analysts expect street violence in Thailand to intensify ahead of a court ruling next month on the assets of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which were seized after he was deposed in a coup in 2006.

Leaders of the Thaksin-loyalist 'Red Shirts,' named after the colour of their tops, say they expect up to one million protesters to join a demonstration in Bangkok ahead of the court's verdict in late February. -- AFP

Europcar announces April hire car launch for Cambodia

via CAAI News Media
by Elizabeth Cole January 22nd, 2010

Europcar, who joined forced with Enterprise Rent-A-Car in 2008 to form the world’s largest hire car network, has announced this week that as of April 2010 they will be operating in the Southeast Asian country of Cambodia.

After reaching an agreement in 2009 with the RM Asia Group (RMA) it is this operator who will oversee the running of the Cambodian network. RMA Cambodia group country manager Rami Sharaf, whose outfit presently distributed Ford vehicles across Britain, called the new move a welcome one for Cambodia where the standard and availability of decent rental vehicles has been for long practically non-existent. The launch will be the first international standard operation for the country.

RM Asia Group (RMA) will therefore operate a division of the vehicle hire car business later in 2010 after it had previously agreed to operate the Europcar franchise late last year. According to Sharaf, around 50 vehicles would be on the initial portfolio which would be available for either long or short term hire. The initial results of the launch will determine if further services will be offered in the future. RMA has only recently decided to move into the rental car industry following what they see as an increasing demand for hire transport. The Cambodian franchise, while not expecting a huge rush from private car owners, anticipates popularity among private companies, embassies, tourists and governmental organisations. Sharaf further claimed that RMA will be working closely with the hotel industry in a bid to attract numbers.

The French owned company Europcar, owned by investment giant Eurazeo, is the leading provider of utility and passenger vehicles across Europe in addition to its intercontinental operations. In 2008 over ten million hire contracts were signed by the group.

Phnom Penh rejects human rights report as "insulting" (Roundup)

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Jan 22, 2010

Phnom Penh - The Cambodian government Friday rejected the annual report of a prominent human rights organization that warned respect for rights in the country had 'dramatically deteriorated' last year.

In its assessment, also released Friday, Human Rights Watch called on donors to exert pressure on the government to reverse the trend.

But government spokesman Phay Siphan hit back, saying the report was unprofessional, lacked balance and was insulting. He said HRW had ignored the role of Cambodian institutions, and stressed that reform had to come 'little by little.'

'We understand that any government has its flaws - so we are not sleeping on the problem,' Phay Siphan said. 'Criticism is information, and we would have to consider that, but insulting is not [useful] information.'

The report by the US-based organization singled out Phnom Penh's forced return to China in December of 20 asylum seekers belonging to the Uighur ethnic minority as a particular low point.

'Cambodia's deportation of the Uighurs was a glaring example of the government's failure to respect human rights,' said Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director.

The HRW report was released while the UN's special rapporteur on human rights, Surya Subedi, was visiting Cambodia. Subedi is in-country for two weeks to assess national institutions and how well they serve ordinary Cambodians.

Among the institutions Subedi will examine is the judiciary, a body Human Rights Watch said was being misused by the government to silence its critics in politics, the media and civil society.

'As the political space shrinks for human rights and advocacy groups to defend themselves, there are valid concerns that a pending law to increase restrictions on non-governmental organizations will be used to shut down groups critical of the government,' Adams said.

Human Rights Watch complained that Cambodians who tried to defend their homes, jobs and human rights faced 'threats, jail and physical attacks.'

It called on donors, who last year contributed about 1 billion US dollars to the impoverished South-East Asian nation, to pressure the government to respect human rights.

Other subjects covered in the report were the ongoing problem of forced evictions and the use of armed police and soldiers to evict people, as well as poor prison conditions and allegations of torture by police.

Human Rights Watch also condemned new legislation that limits freedom of assembly to fewer than 200 people, for which permission must be gained in advance, and said freedom of association remained under pressure.

The expulsion from Phnom Penh of the 20 Uighurs, who fled China after deadly unrest in the far-western province of Xinjiang in July, preceded a visit to Phnom Penh by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, during which China signed economic assistance deals worth 1.2 billion dollars.

A torrent of international criticism saw Cambodia hit back at its critics with one government minister deriding the UN refugee agency in Phnom Penh as 'the laziest office' in the country for failing for weeks to begin processing the Uighurs' claims.

UN Agency To Prioritise Development Areas In Cambodia


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PHNOM PENH, Jan 22 (Bernama) -- The Cambodian government has said that its development partner, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is planning to prioritise five areas for development projects in the country from 2011 to 2015, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

A statement released by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) on Friday, said government officials from various institutions had held a meeting with their development partner UNDP to review the implementation of projects assisted by the UNDP in 2009 and the ongoing projects for years ahead.

The statement said the meeting was chaired by Keat Chhon, deputy prime minister and minister of the economy and finance, and also the first vice chairman of the CDC.

From 2006 through 2010, the UNDP were focusing on governance; promotion of human rights protection, agriculture and poverty in rural area; capacity building and human resource development; and national development plan.

UNDP has assisted Cambodia between 80 million and US$120 million a year.

Cambodian garment workers threaten week-long strike

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Published: 22 Jan 2010
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PHNOM PENH, Jan 22 - Two of Cambodia's biggest workers' unions on Friday threatened to hold a nationwide garmet-industry strike to protest over low pay and the unsolved murder of the country's most respected union leader.

Two unions said thousands of garment factory workers would halt production for a week to press the government to arrest the killers of top unionist Chea Vichea, as hundreds marched in Phnom Penh to mark the sixth anniversary of his killing.

A workers' strike would represent a rare test for the government of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has used a parliament dominated by his Cambodia People's Party (CPP) to push through tough laws to stifle dissent.

It comes at a tricky time for Cambodia as it tries to recover from a sharp economic decline that followed an unprecedented four-year boom before the global financial crisis took its toll.

Garment factories employ 330,000 workers in Cambodia and are vital to the impoverished country's nascent economy. Garments are Cambodia's third-biggest earner behind agriculture and tourism.

It exported $1.95 billion worth of garments in 2008 to its biggest market, the United States, up from $1.27 billion in 2004, according to the Commerce Ministry. Last year's figures are not yet available.

The workers are supporters of Chea Vichea, a vocal critic of Cambodia's business and political elite who was shot dead in January 2004. Two men were sentenced to 20 years in prison for his murder.

'GRAVE INJUSTICE'

The United Nations said their conviction was a "grave injustice" and rights groups said the pair were framed.

The Supreme Court in December 2008 ordered their release on bail pending a review of the case. There have since been no new arrests.

The two unions threatening action were the Free Trade Union (FTU), which represents 78,000 garment workers and the Cambodian Labour Federation (CLF) with 50,000 members from the same sector.

"We send this message to the government that it's time to find the killers, for the family, to make us calm," said Chea Mony, brother of Chea Vichea and president of the FTA.

CLF president Ath Thon said the outspoken Chea Vihea was a "hero" among garment workers because he fought for an increase in their minimum monthly wage from $30 to $45 during the 1990s.

He said workers were having difficulty making ends meet and they would also use the strike to demand a pay increase.

"Our workers don't have enough to spend, their health is getting weaker, they eat less, live in bad places and work hard," Ath Thon added. The unions did not say whether they would stage a protest alongside the strike. Cambodia's parliament approved a law in October banning demonstrations of more than 200 people and requiring five days notice for smaller protests.

That, and a tightening of defamation laws, sparked criticism from opposition lawmakers and rights groups, which said the government was trying to intimidate its critics and crack down on freedom of expression.

Cambodian national police spokesman Kirth Chantharith declined to comment on Chea Vichea's murder investigation but said there would be no attempt to block the strike as long as workers sought permission from the authorities.

"We have laws on demonstrations and police are ready to respect them," he said.

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap


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Cambodia’s Rights Defenders Under Fire, Donors Should Speak Up to Protect Civil Society

Friday, 22 January 2010 10:42 DAP-NEWS/ Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 22, 2010- Cambodia's respect for basic rights dramatically deteriorated last year as the government misused the judiciary to silence government critics, attacked human rights defenders, tightened restrictions on press freedom and abandoned its international obligations to protect refugees, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Friday in its new World Report 2010.

But a government’s spokesman denied the reports as “groundless”.

“It is not a quality report. They just represent their own voices and concerns which do not represent the facts,” Phay Siphan told DAP by phone.

“This is a baseless and not scientific report,” said Siphan.

However, the 612-page World Report 2010, the organization’s 20th annual review of human rights practices around the globe—summarizes major human rights trends in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide including Cambodia—said “Cambodian human rights defenders were threatened, arbitrarily arrested, and physically attacked,” it said of the last year’s situation.

“Victims included staff and volunteers of human rights organizations, as well as community-based activists working on land rights, natural resource exploitation, and forced evictions.”

“Cambodians who speak out to defend their homes, their jobs, and their rights face threats, jail, and physical attacks,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The only way that the Cambodian government will end its assault on civil society is if influential governments and donors demand real change and put the pressure on.”

Violations often occurred during mass evictions when police and soldiers frequently used unnecessary or excessive force, said Human Rights Watch.

The group provided few prime examples about the government used “heavily armed soldiers firing teargas and water cannons as they forcibly evicted hundreds of families from the Dey Krahom community last year.

Also, in March, police opened fire on unarmed farmers protesting confiscation of their land in Siem Reap province, seriously wounding four villagers.

More than 60 community activists were imprisoned or awaited trial during 2009—often on spurious charges—for helping to organize and represent fellow community members facing eviction or illegal confiscation of their land.

Urban poor evicted from their homes were often dumped in squalid relocation sites far from the city that lack water, social services and access to jobs.

At least 10 government critics—including four journalists and several opposition party members—were sued for criminal defamation and disinformation by government and military officials, the report says.

“As the political space shrinks for human rights and advocacy groups to defend themselves, there are valid concerns that a pending law to increase restrictions on non-governmental organizations will be used to shut down groups critical of the government,” Adams said in the release.

The report details other key issues including political violence, the lack of accountability by government officials involved in abuses, arbitrary detention and abuse of sex workers, and substandard prison conditions.

Over 2,000 people who use drugs were arbitrarily detained in 11 government-run drug detention centers, where arduous physical exercises and forced labor are the mainstays of their “treatment,” and torture is common. Even if an assessment concludes that an individual is not dependent on drugs, the centers continue to hold some detainees arbitrarily.

One of the year’s low points was the government’s forcible deportation of 20 Uighur asylum seekers from Cambodia to China on December 19, without an examination of their refugee claims.

“This action was a clear violation of Cambodia’s obligations” as a state that has ratified 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, it said.

“Cambodia’s deportation of the Uighurs was a glaring example of the government's failure to respect human rights,” Adams said. “The Cambodian government showed its profound disregard for minimum standards of due process, refugee protection, and international cooperation.”

Khmer Krom (ethnic Khmer from southern Vietnam) asylum seekers and migrants faced obstacles to obtaining safe places to live and full citizenship rights in Cambodia, despite pronouncements by the Cambodian government that it considers Khmer Krom who move to Cambodia to be Cambodian citizens.

Thirty years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, justice for the crimes of that era remained as elusive as ever, Human Rights Watch said.

The US$100 million Khmer Rouge tribunal continued to face political interference and made little headway in addressing credible reports of corruption that have plagued the court and undermined its credibility.

Human Rights Watch expressed concerns about the training and material support donors are providing for Cambodian military, police, and counterterrorism units with track records of serious human rights violations.

Donors should conduct more thorough vetting of individuals and their units participating in such programs to ensure that none have been involved in rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said.

“While donors may have policy reasons to work with the Cambodian security forces on issues such as terrorism and peacekeeping, they should work just as hard on holding abusers accountable and ending the culture of impunity that exists for high-ranking members of the security forces and those close to Prime Minister Hun Sen,” Adams said.

Phay Siphan said donors have been working with Cambodia as partnership not as a whipping-boy.

“We can not get things done overnight and no one can oblige us to do this or that,” said Siphan.

Letter of U.S Statement on the Possible U.S. Statement on Territorial Integrity of Cambodia

Friday, 22 January 2010 10:19 DAP-NEWS

For over a year the United States has confronted the issue of whether to make a declaration affirming U.S. respect and/or recognition for the territorial integrity of Cambodia within itspresent borders. During most of this period the issue has been considered in the context of a
possible resumption of diplomatic relations. In the last week the issue has come up in the additional context of the Bowles mission. Ambassador Bowles himself has asked what flexibility he might have on a statement if this became a significant element in his discussions. At the first meeting in Phnom Penh on January 9, Prime Minister Son Sann made a general reference to the matter in saying "A primary consideration of Cambodia's foreign policy concerns the recognition of Cambodian borders." In a subsequent meeting, he or Prince Sihanouk might bring the border question directly into the conversation and ask what kind of declaration the United States would be prepared to make as part of whatever arrangement we might work out concerning ICC operations and VC/NVA use of Cambodian territory. We should be in a position to respond promptly if this occurs. Ambassador Bowles' initial instructions were understandably reserved on the issue of a border statement, but we believe the United States enjoys considerable flexibility about this whenever it may become useful to engage in discussion of the subject with Cambodia. In essence, a U.S. declaration would state that the United States respects the sovereignty, independence, neutrality and territorial integrity of Cambodia within its present frontiers and recognizes the inviolability of these frontiers. Such a statement says two things. First, it says that we respect the territorial integrity of Cambodia within its present frontiers--without defining what those frontiers are or committing ourselves to the precise borders claimed by Cambodia. A declaration in the form outlined above would not commit the United States to any position on the precise location of boundary lines where those lines may be subject to dispute. It would commit the United States to oppose any large-scale irredentist claims. Some claims of this nature were advanced by the Diem regime a number of years ago and were reciprocated by equally flimsy claims on the part of Cambodia.

Second, such a declaration would say that we recognize Cambodia's lawful frontiers, whatever
they may be, to be inviolable. This would certainly be construed as an undertaking not to change Cambodia's frontiers by force. This is the sense in which Sihanouk and declaring governments have used the term "inviolable". Recognition of inviolability of frontiers could also be asserted to mean that incursions across these frontiers into Cambodian territory would not be made unless there was a legitimate basis for doing so under the United Nations Charter. One such basis, recognized by Article 51 of the Charter, is the inherent right of individual or collective selfdefense.

Prince Sihanouk's recent statements regarding possible U.S. incursions into Cambodia

to pursue NVN/VC forces operating illegally there seem to recognize this self-defense exception to the inviolability of Cambodia's borders. In making any statement that included the concept of inviolability, we would want it made clear to all--Sihanouk included--that inviolability does not, of course, imply an obligation not to cross a border temporarily when there is a legitimate reason--such as self-defense--for doing so. In summary, a declaration respecting Cambodia's territorial integrity and recognizing the inviolability of its frontiers would commit us to no more than is already in the United Nations Charter.

Some arguments have been advanced against a U.S. declaration on Cambodia's territorial integrity. First, that Australia's experience with such a declaration was unsatisfactory. If Sihanouk should try to interpret a U.S. declaration as supporting his claims as to the precise location of boundaries, we could, of course, do what Australia did and make it plain that we support the territorial integrity of all countries in the area. Indeed, if any U.S. declaration were to
grow out of the Bowles mission, we could let the Cambodians know very clearly what our interpretation of the statement was. We might wish to preface the declaration with an explanatory clause designed to show that it constituted one particular application of a general principle. For example, we could include in our declaration the statement that it was being made "in accordance with the Principles of the United Nations set forth in Article 2 of the Charter".

The suggestion has also been made that a U.S. declaration would offend Thai and South Vietnamese sensitivities on the issue of borders. In the case of Thailand, this seems particularly
unlikely. Foreign Minister Thanat has said that Thailand has no border disputes with Cambodia-apart from the question of the Temple of Preah Vihear, as to which he made a reservation to the 1962 decision of the International Court of Justice that has no effect. In the case of South Viet Nam, it may be noted that there has been no reaction from Saigon to the various statements made by other governments concerning Cambodia's territorial integrity. Such statements have been made by France, Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Federal Republic of Germany. The Japanese have now told us that they will probably make such a statement within the next few days. Moreover, there might be the following disadvantage in refusing to make a statement on Cambodia's territorial integrity if the issue should be pressed by the Cambodians: our refusal could be taken as implying that the statements made by a number of other countries do endorse Cambodia's claims as to the precise location of its boundaries in areas where there are disputes--

principally the boundary with South Viet Nam.

Letter of U.S Statement on the Possible U.S. Statement on Territorial Integrity of Cambodia  Friday, 22 January 2010 10:19 DAP-NEWS .For over a year the United States has confronted the issue of whether to make a declaration affirming U.S. respect and/or recognition for the territorial integrity of Cambodia within its present borders. During most of this period the issue has been considered in the context of a possible resumption of diplomatic relations. In the last week the issue has come up in the additional context of the Bowles mission. Ambassador Bowles himself has asked what flexibility he might have on a statement if this became a significant element in his discussions. At the first meeting in Phnom Penh on January 9, Prime Minister Son Sann made a general reference to the matter in saying "A primary consideration of Cambodia's foreign policy concerns the recognition of Cambodian borders." In a subsequent meeting, he or Prince Sihanouk might bring the border question directly into the conversation and ask what kind of declaration the United States would be prepared to make as part of whatever arrangement we might work out concerning ICC operations and VC/NVA use of Cambodian territory. We should be in a position to respond promptly if this occurs. Ambassador Bowles' initial instructions were understandably reserved on the issue of a border statement, but we believe the United States enjoys considerable flexibility about this whenever it may become useful to engage in discussion of the subject with Cambodia.

In essence, a U.S. declaration would state that the United States respects the sovereignty, independence, neutrality and territorial integrity of Cambodia within its present frontiers and recognizes the inviolability of these frontiers. Such a statement says two things.

First, it says that we respect the territorial integrity of Cambodia within its present frontiers--without defining what those frontiers are or committing ourselves to the precise borders claimed by Cambodia. A declaration in the form outlined above would not commit the United States to any position on the precise location of boundary lines where those lines may be subject to dispute. It would commit the United States to oppose any large-scale irredentist claims. Some claims of this nature were advanced by the Diem regime a number of years ago and were reciprocated by equally flimsy claims on the part of Cambodia.

Second, such a declaration would say that we recognize Cambodia's lawful frontiers, whatever
they may be, to be inviolable. This would certainly be construed as an undertaking not to change Cambodia's frontiers by force. This is the sense in which Sihanouk and declaring governments have used the term "inviolable". Recognition of inviolability of frontiers could also be asserted to mean that incursions across these frontiers into Cambodian territory would not be made unless there was a legitimate basis for doing so under the United Nations Charter. One such basis, recognized by Article 51 of the Charter, is the inherent right of individual or collective selfdefense.

Prince Sihanouk's recent statements regarding possible U.S. incursions into Cambodia to pursue NVN/VC forces operating illegally there seem to recognize this self-defense exception to the inviolability of Cambodia's borders. In making any statement that included the concept of inviolability, we would want it made clear to all--Sihanouk included--that inviolability does not, of course, imply an obligation not to cross a border temporarily when there is a legitimate reason--such as self-defense--for doing so. In summary, a declaration respecting Cambodia's territorial integrity and recognizing the inviolability of its frontiers would commit us to no more than is already in the United Nations Charter.

Some arguments have been advanced against a U.S. declaration on Cambodia's territorial integrity. First, that Australia's experience with such a declaration was unsatisfactory. If Sihanouk should try to interpret a U.S. declaration as supporting his claims as to the precise location of boundaries, we could, of course, do what Australia did and make it plain that we support the territorial integrity of all countries in the area. Indeed, if any U.S. declaration were to grow out of the Bowles mission, we could let the Cambodians know very clearly what our interpretation of the statement was. We might wish to preface the declaration with an explanatory clause designed to show that it constituted one particular application of a general principle. For example, we could include in our declaration the statement that it was being made "in accordance with the Principles of the United Nations set forth in Article 2 of the Charter".

The suggestion has also been made that a U.S. declaration would offend Thai and South Vietnamese sensitivities on the issue of borders. In the case of Thailand, this seems particularly unlikely. Foreign Minister Thanat has said that Thailand has no border disputes with Cambodia apart from the question of the Temple of Preah Vihear, as to which he made a reservation to the 1962 decision of the International Court of Justice that has no effect. In the case of South Viet Nam, it may be noted that there has been no reaction from Saigon to the various statements made by other governments concerning Cambodia's territorial integrity. Such statements have been made by France, Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Federal Republic of Germany. The Japanese have now told us that they will probably make such a statement within the next few days.

Moreover, there might be the following disadvantage in refusing to make a statement on Cambodia's territorial integrity if the issue should be pressed by the Cambodians: our refusal could be taken as implying that the statements made by a number of other countries do endorseCambodia's claims as to the precise location of its boundaries in areas where there are disputes-- principally the boundary with South Viet Nam.

Nigerian Swin- Dler Nabbed

Friday, 22 January 2010 05:49 DAP-NEWS

A Nigerian swindler has been arrested by Phnom Penh military police, according to a local source on Thursday.

The Nigerian was staying in a rented house in Stung Meanchey commune, in the Mean Chey district of Phnom Penh.

Police found business cards, documents, ink, two packages of narcotics and other items.

Michael Okeke Obumneneme involved in internet scams, the police source added.

Michael told a local victim, Bopha, that he would transfer money to her, but she must first send him US$1,500.

The defendant has been sent to court or trial.

Cambodia: Rights Defenders Under Fire



via CAAI News Media
22 Jan 2010

Source: Human Rights Watch

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

(New York) - Cambodia's respect for basic rights dramatically deteriorated in 2009 as the government misused the judiciary to silence government critics, attacked human rights defenders, tightened restrictions on press freedom, and abandoned its international obligations to protect refugees, Human Rights Watch said today in its new World Report 2010.

The 612-page World Report 2010, the organization's 20th annual review of human rights practices around the globe, summarizes major human rights trends in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide. Cambodian human rights defenders were threatened, arbitrarily arrested, and physically attacked during 2009, Human Rights Watch said. Victims included staff and volunteers of human rights organizations, as well as community-based activists working on land rights, natural resource exploitation, and forced evictions.

"Cambodians who speak out to defend their homes, their jobs, and their rights face threats, jail, and physical attacks," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The only way that the Cambodian government will end its assault on civil society is if influential governments and donors demand real change and put the pressure on."

Violations often occurred during mass evictions when police and soldiers frequently used unnecessary or excessive force. For example, on January 24, the streets of central Phnom Penh were filled with heavily armed soldiers firing teargas and water cannons as they forcibly evicted hundreds of families from the Dey Krahom community. In March, police opened fire on unarmed farmers protesting confiscation of their land in Siem Reap province, seriously wounding four villagers.

More than 60 community activists were imprisoned or awaited trial - often on spurious charges - for helping to organize and represent fellow community members facing eviction or illegal confiscation of their land.

Urban poor evicted from their homes were often dumped in squalid relocation sites far from the city that lack water, social services, and access to jobs.

At least 10 government critics - including four journalists and several opposition party members - were sued for criminal defamation and disinformation by government and military officials, the report says.

"As the political space shrinks for human rights and advocacy groups to defend themselves, there are valid concerns that a pending law to increase restrictions on nongovernmental organizations will be used to shut down groups critical of the government," Adams said.

The report details other key issues including political violence, the lack of accountability by government officials involved in abuses, arbitrary detention and abuse of sex workers, and substandard prison conditions.

Over 2,000 people who use drugs were arbitrarily detained in 11 government-run drug detention centers, where arduous physical exercises and forced labor are the mainstays of their "treatment," and torture is common. Even if an assessment concludes that an individual is not dependent on drugs, the centers continue to hold some detainees arbitrarily.

One of the year's low points was the government's forcible deportation of 20 Uighur asylum seekers from Cambodia to China on December 19, without an examination of their refugee claims. This action was a clear violation of Cambodia's obligations as a state that has ratified the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

"Cambodia's deportation of the Uighurs was a glaring example of the government's failure to respect human rights," Adams said. "The Cambodian government showed its profound disregard for minimum standards of due process, refugee protection, and international cooperation."

Khmer Krom (ethnic Khmer from southern Vietnam) asylum seekers and migrants faced obstacles to obtaining safe places to live and full citizenship rights in Cambodia, despite pronouncements by the Cambodian government that it considers Khmer Krom who move to Cambodia to be Cambodian citizens.

Thirty years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, justice for the crimes of that era remained as elusive as ever, Human Rights Watch said. The US$100 million Khmer Rouge tribunal continued to face political interference and made little headway in addressing credible reports of corruption that have plagued the court and undermined its credibility.

Human Rights Watch expressed concerns about the training and material support donors are providing for Cambodian military, police, and counterterrorism units with track records of serious human rights violations. Donors should conduct more thorough vetting of individuals and their units participating in such programs to ensure that none have been involved in rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said.

"While donors may have policy reasons to work with the Cambodian security forces on issues such as terrorism and peacekeeping, they should work just as hard on holding abusers accountable and ending the culture of impunity that exists for high-ranking members of the security forces and those close to Prime Minister Hun Sen,"Â Adams said.