Friday, December 26, 2008

More governmental control over non-governmental organizations

Inter Press Service reports that Prime Minister Hun Sen wants stricter laws for local and international NGO:s in Cambodia. He claims the new laws is needed to control terrorists, but critics say this will restrict the democratic space yet more.

Borithy Lun, President for Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, the largest Cambodian umbrella organization for NGO:s, said to IPS that there is no need for stricter laws. Since all organizations need to register at the authorities, the government already knows about their acitivities.

Many observers say that the democratic space in Cambodia has shrinken after last summers election. Reporters without borders and Amnesty International has reported about a harder reality for journalists and human rights activists.

China has recently become one of Cambodia's most important donor countries, and Hun Sen has pointed out that unlike the western aid, the Chinese won't require conditions such as good governance.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Amnesty International: Supreme Court must deliver justice


23 December 2008
AI Index No: ASA 23/044/2008

Cambodia: Supreme Court must deliver justice

The Cambodian Supreme Court must seize the opportunity to deliver justice in the high-profile murder case of union leader Chea Vichea on 31 December 2008, Amnesty International said today.

Amnesty International calls on the Supreme Court to dismiss the case against Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, and ensure that they are released without delay and their names cleared. In view of the human rights violations perpetrated during their detention and trial, including torture or other ill-treatment, unfounded and inadmissible “evidence” and deeply flawed court proceedings, this is the only fair and just outcome for this case, the organization said.

Amnesty International believes that the true perpetrators of the murder remain at large, while Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun have spent almost five years in prison after a seriously flawed criminal investigation and a grossly unfair trial.

Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun had alibis for the time of the shooting on 22 January 2004. Instead of conducting a thorough, impartial investigation, police officers threatened and detained people who would provide these alibis, and intimidated other witnesses. Born Samnang repeatedly stated that police beat, coerced and bribed him into making a confession; despite this the Municipal Court accepted the confession as a central piece of evidence on the basis of which both men were convicted. On 1 August 2005, the Municipal Court sentenced them both to 20 years’ imprisonment for murder; on 6 April 2007, the Appeal Court upheld the decision, despite the prosecutor’s acknowledgment there was insufficient evidence.

Amnesty International repeats its calls to the Cambodian authorities to conduct an impartial and effective investigation into the murder of Chea Vichea so that those responsible for it are brought to justice.

The organisation also urges the authorities to initiate a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the conduct of the case - including allegations of torture or other ill-treatment by police during the initial interrogation of the two men, intimidation of witnesses and political interference with the judicial process.

Chea Vichea, President of Cambodia’s Free Trade Union (FTU), was murdered on 22 January 2004 after receiving a series of death threats. He was shot dead in an assassination style killing at a news-stand in central Phnom Penh. Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were arrested shortly afterwards on suspicion of his murder.

Chea Vichea was a well-known trade union leader who championed workers’ rights in Cambodia’s burgeoning garment industry and a founding member of the main opposition Khmer Nation Party (KNP) in 1995, renamed the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) in 1998. He was elected President of the FTU, one of Cambodia’s largest trade unions, in 1999, when he left all official positions within the SRP.

Since Chea Vichea’s death another two FTU activists have been killed in Phnom Penh. In May 2004, Ros Sovannareth, FTU President at the Trinunggal Komara factory, was murdered. Thach Saveth was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his murder in a one hour trial described by observers as grossly unfair. On 24 February 2007, Hy Vuthy, FTU President at the Suntex factory, was shot dead. No one has been brought to justice for this killing, and by September 2008, a Phnom Penh court official told media that the investigation had been closed for lack of evidence. Moreover, numerous other trade union members have been victims of harassment, intimidation and violence.


Public Document

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New suspects for the tribunal

Phnom Penh Post reports that sources from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal sais the court has identified six more potential candidates for prosecution.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thousands of new species around Mekong

Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reports that 1068 new animal and plant species have been found around the Mekong River during the period 1997-2007. 519 plants, 279 fishes, 88 frogs, 88 spiders, 46 lizzards, 22 snakes, 15 mammals, 4 birds, 4 turtles, 2 salamanders and a toad. Stuart Chapman, Director of WWF’s Greater Mekong programme, sais they thought "discoveries of this scale were confined to the history books". WWF is now desiderating an agreement between the six Mekong countries governments.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

WHO is preparing attack against new resistent malaria

Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reports that WHO will make a huge effort to eradicate the new malaria parasites in Cambodia being resistent against the drug artemisinin before they spread to other countries.

50 years ago the first chloroquine-resistent malaria parasites were discovered in Cambodia. Since then the chloroquine resistance has spread around the world and killed tens of millions of people. Around 20 years later the chinese herb artemisia started to be in use as a malaria treatment. Artemisinin is now gradually taking over chloroquine and the risk that parasites would develop resistance againt artemisinin as well has been a horror scenario according to Svenska Dagbladet. Less then a week ago New England Journal of Medicine reported about the first cases of artemisinin resistent malaria in Cambodia.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Eighth human case of bird flu

(The International Herald Tribune) The Cambodia's Health Ministry has confirmed the eighth human case of virulent bird flu since 2005. There have been 246 confirmed fatal cases of the disease in humans worldwide since 2003 according to the WHO.
However, the eighth Cambodian case, a 19-year-old man does not seem to be a fatal case. He is being treated at Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh and a health ministry expert on bird flu said that "his health is being better day by day".

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Controversial case to be heard by the Supreme Court

Phnom Penh Post reports that the controversial case of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun will be heard by the Supreme Court on December 31.

Five years ago, on January 22, 2004, labour union leader Chea Vichea was murdered. Six days later the two men Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were arrested. In a highly flawed trial in August 2005 they were both convicted for the murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Cambodian authorities has been extensively criticised for the handling of the case, both domestically and internationally. Nevertheless the men's convictions were upheld by the Appeal Court in April 2007.

Chea Mony, the current president of the Free Trade Union and brother of activist Chea Vichea, sais to Phnom Penh Post that the previous courts "acted under pressure from the government" and if the supreme court is independent and investigate the case the men will be freed. The Post reports that human rights organisation Licadho has called the case "the most glaring example of impunity and miscarriage of justice in Cambodia".

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cambodia decrease military budget after criticism from donors

IMF expressed concern about the big increase of the military budget that Cambodia announced in October. Reuters reports that the government now propose a military budget of $160. Cheam Yeap, head of the National Assembly's finance commission told Reuters that "We don't want donors to get nervous about spending in the field so we decided to reduce it".

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Placebo concert for 1200 fans

AFP reports that the Placebo concert was highly appreciated. Around 1200 fans where at the gig at Angkor Wat.

Agreement against corruption among tribunal's staff

AP reports that the Cambodian government and UN have agreed in strengthening measures to prevent corruption among the ECCC staff. The tribunal staff have been accused of corruption twice in the past two years according to AP.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Growing slum on the rooftops of Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Post reports abot the slum communities on the rooftops of Phnom Penh which lack basic sanitation and have growing problems with drugs and crime. According to the Post the Phnom Penh Municipality says there is not enough money to help the situation. Sar Bamnang, deputy director of the Municipal Department of Land Management sais to the Post that the concerns of the residents of the slums are still on the agenda and that they might have the budget to help them at some point in the future. Somethearith Din, a project manager at the UN Human Settlements Program (UN- Habitat) sais that the situation on the rooftops could be vastly improved with the installation of simple sanitation facilities like taps for washing and toilets. But the Post further reports that Somethearith Din is not hopeful that this is something that will me made since there are thousands of slum settlements across Cambodia.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Open letter to Phnom Penh's governor

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) has sent an open letter to the Governor of the Municipality of Phnom Penh regarding the forced eviction of residents of Boeung Kak Lake. In the letter they call on the Municipality "to ensure that the rights of the residents of Boeung Kak lake are respected and protected, and that victims of forced evictions are provided with effective remedies, including restitution of housing, land or property" and request that "arbitrary arrests, intimidation and restrictions of the right to peaceful protest be stopped immediately."
They also request a meeting with the Governor and other officials to discuss "Boeung Kak lake and related matters".

The letter is found here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cambodia ask foreign donors not to withdraw aid

AP reports that Prime Minister Hun Sen ask foreign donors to keep support Cambodia despite the global finincal crisis. Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world. International donors including the World Bank has expressed concern about corruption and inefficiency in Cambodia's administration of aid. At the opening of a two-day meeting to coordinate assistance, Hun Sen tried to assure the donors that the long-delayed anti-corruption law is soon to be adopted.