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Alcohol ban? Cheers to that Monday, 04 June 2012 Joseph Freeman and Mom Kunthear

People drink beer on the eve of commune elections on Saturday in Kampong Cham town despite a government ban on the sale of alcohol. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

On Saturday night, cans of Cambodia beer stood next to Styrofoam plates of chicken skewers on a table outside the riverside hotel where Ngoun Theang, 26, and his friends were hanging out. The scene would not have been out of a place any other night, but in the wake of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s two-day alcohol ban ahead of the elections, the shared brews could have spelled trouble. Not that Ngoun Thean was concerned. “I support and agree with the banning from the government … but I think for us to drink in a small setting like this, it’s okay.” He added that he planned to vote the following morning and that knocking back a few would help him get a good night’s sleep. That attitude seemed prevalent across Kampong Cham town, where the good times kept rolling at bars and markets. The prime minister banned the sale and consumption of alcohol over June 2 and 3 to


prevent unrest during the commune elections. According to a copy of the directive, the two days of enforced sobriety applied to both Cambodians and foreigners. But neither group seemed to have gotten the message. “Almost 100 per cent of my guests are foreigners, and they drink a little, but [not enough to] cause them to get drunk or crazy,” Tang Kimsa, manager of a riverside restaurant said. Chaem Pichet, the Kampong Cham provincial deputy military police chief, acknowledged that fully enforcing the ban was difficult. “There are some drinking in quiet places or hiding from the authorities,” he said, adding that the authorities could not look everywhere. On Saturday, though, police only had to look at the night market here, which sits directly next to the headquarters of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Music boomed from speakers while groups of young men ate dinner and washed their meals down with cans of Angkor. A 24-year-old cassava farmer, Soeung Sopheak, was sitting with friends. They had not seen each other in a while and wanted to have a good time, he said. But he insisted he would not get too tipsy – he did not want to forget to vote. To contact the reporters on this story: Joseph Freeman at joseph.freeman@phnompenhpost.com Mom Kunthear at mom.kunthear@phnompenhpost.com Reporting from Kampong Cham town


Charges of election irregularities abound Monday, 04 June 2012 Post Staff

Voters search for their names on lists posted outside a polling station in Prey Veng province yesterday. Photograph: Derek Stout/Phnom Penh Post

Allegations of intimidation, ghost voting and electoral-roll sabotage marred yesterday’s commune election as citizens flocked to schools, pagodas and tent-filled streets to cast their vote. It wasn’t yet 9am when SRP legislator Son Chhay, preparing to vote at the capital’s Neakavoan Pagoda, claimed voters across Phnom Penh had arrived at polling stations to find their names missing from the electoral roll. “I think their names have been deleted,” he said. “At each station, you’re talking about 40 or 50 people. “[Some] have just walked back [home] – they just don’t bother. It is a concern that a lot of people cannot display their political decision.” The SRP was also looking into allegations of vote-buying and intimidation in the capital, Son Chhay said. Allegations of crookedness, however, weren’t confined to Phnom Penh.


In Battambang town, SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua and 25-year-old O’Char commune candidate Sin Chan Pov Rozeth accused Cambodian People’s Party officials of intimidation, accepting improper identification documents and planning to use ghost voters. “CPP party agents are checking to see that all their voters have voted,” she said, adding she had seen a party operative at the polling station tallying CPP votes. “If some don’t [vote], they bring in ghost voters.” According to Sin Chan Pov Rozeth, the CPP had pushed back hard as she attempted to unseat long-time CPP incumbent Kem Chhorng. She accused CPP commune council member Meun Vibol of intimidating residents on the eve of the election by patrolling with police chief In Ratha while wearing military fatigues and carrying an AK-47. “A commune council member doesn’t wear a uniform like that,” she said. “It looks threatening to the people.” Both In Ratha and Meun Vibol denied the incident. “If the SRP found me doing that, then they have to show proof,” Meun Vibol said. Mu Sochua posted a photograph on her website yesterday that shows a man she claims is Meun Vibol in fatigues. Sok Khen, Battambang secretary for the election-monitoring group Comfrel, received reports of the secretary of a polling station in Tuol Ta Ek district failing to distribute instructional leaflets, then throwing out votes on the grounds the thumbprints were unclear. She added that if Meun Vibol had indeed been wearing military garb on election eve as described, it would be a violation of campaign laws. Chhorm Anupheap, a National Election Committee monitor at the O’Char polling station, said the only complaints he had received were about the long queue leading to the polls. Comfrel, which observed 800 polling stations, said some “minor” irregularities had surfaced – involving both the CPP and the SRP, which had violated election rules by campaigning in a number of provinces on Saturday, board member Thun Saray said. “They spoke on loudspeakers, gave out money and gifts and displayed party banners,” he said. Other “irregularities” included political officials loitering near voting centres, a lack of “welltrained” voting officials and observers being denied access to polling places. Thun Saray also said the ink used to identify a person who had voted was removable. “We are worried about this, because we tested the ink and saw that it could be removed,” he said.


NEC chairman Im Suosdey said some voters were unaware of what identification they had needed to show, while others had turned up too late to vote. Tep Nytha, secretariat-general of NEC, and government officials could not be reached to respond to the SRP’s claims. Reporting by Stuart White, Kim Yuthana, Phak Seangly, Shane Worrell, Kristin Lynch, Vong Sokheng and Khouth Sophak Chakrya in Battambang and Phnom Penh


Civil parties seek action Monday, 04 June 2012 Bridget Di Certo

While new international co-investigating judges have yet to be appointed, Khmer Rouge tribunal civil party lawyers are questioning whether their eventual arrival will be enough to address the endemic issues that have stymied the progress of government-opposed cases 003 and 004. Civil party lawyers in the two cases Prime Minister Hun Sen has said are “not allowed” will today issue a request to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers to conduct an inquiry at the tribunal. “The Civil Party Lawyers call for urgent investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur into the conduct by various elements of the ECCC that threaten the independence of the judiciary as well as the right of the Khmer Rouge victims to participate in the criminal proceedings in cases 003 and 004,” the lawyers said in a joint statement. Lyma Nguyen, a lawyer representing a number of Case 003 civil parties, including New Zealand victims’ advocate Rob Hamill, told the Post there is a risk that delay in appointing new UN judges could also hinder the work of resigned judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet. Kasper-Ansermet pushed forward Case 003 with judicial acts such as reopening investigations, informing the suspects in the case of their rights and granting civil party lawyers access to the case file. However, these acts were not recognised by the Cambodian side at the tribunal, who insist the Swiss national was not properly appointed. “There are clearly underlying issues which need to be resolved if the investigations in cases 003 and 004 are to be completed in accordance with international standards of due process – that is, without political interference and with complete judicial independence,” Lyma Nguyen, a Case 003 civil party lawyer said yesterday. Silke Studinsky, another civil party lawyer in Case 003, told the Post that she and her Cambodian counterpart are still not able to access the case file in 003, despite KasperAnsermet’s specific order allowing them access. UN Special Expert David Scheffer told the Post late last week that the process to appoint two international judges at the tribunal is “well under way”. “As the need arises, positions will continue to be advertised and candidates considered in the office of the international co-investigating judge,” Scheffer said. To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at bridget.dicerto@phnompenhpost.com


‘Outsiders’ denied right to vote Monday, 04 June 2012 May Titthara and David Boyle

Houy Lai Hin (centre), the mother of Heng Chantha, who was shot dead by security forces last month in Kratie province, speaks to the Post yesterday. Photograph: David Boyle/Phnom Penh Post

Just under three weeks ago, residents in Pro Ma village were running for their lives as security forces opened fire on them with automatic weapons, killing a 14-year-old girl. About 1,000 police, military police and soldiers stormed their village, fired at them indiscriminately, evicted hundreds of families and have maintained a significant presence ever since. As the most recent victims in a series of violent crackdowns against communities protesting against land encroachments in Kratie province, their vote in yesterday’s commune elections could have been telling. But about 180 families in Pro Ma village, which lies inside Chhlong district’s Kampong Damrei commune in an area that has been deforested as far as the eye can see, are not even considered residents and thus do not have the right to vote. Duch Kunthear, 60, who came to Pro Ma in 2006 from Takeo province during a wave of migration to the remote village, said yesterday he had been waiting ever since for the acting village chief to formally recognise him as a resident.


“I don’t want anybody looking down on us any more, because we have lived here since a long time ago. They should allow us to vote,” he said. The migrants to Pro Ma established three sub-villages: Chrak Dambang point, Andong Chrov and Sre Chin Phoeng. None of these villages have been officially recognised, stoking anxiety that they will be brutally evicted, just as about 200 other families, deemed “newcomers”, were on May 16. The operation was conducted on the pretext of foiling a secessionist plot, but villagers and rights groups alleged it was a forced eviction ordered by the government on behalf of the logging and agro-business firm Casotim. Military police have maintained a heavy presence in the area since the operation and many, such as 19-year-old Moeun Rin, are nervous that having migrated, they still have no formal recognition as voting citizens. “I’ve lived here since I was 12, but my commune chief did not recognise me. The reason I want to vote is because I want to show other people I am safe and I will not be forcibly evicted from my village as [others were] the previous time,” he said. Chheng Chhat, the deputy chief of Kampong Damrei commune, said there were 264 families registered in Pro Ma village and 180 who had yet to be recognised. “I have requested for those families to the provincial governor already, and I hope that next election they can vote,” he said. Im Many, Kratie observer for the election monitoring group Comfrel, said about 40 per cent of registered voters in the province had forfeited their right, largely because they were migrants who had no identity card, were confused about voting or simply had no will to. In Pro Ma, the only people who were allowed to vote were the families that originally settled there after the Khmer Rouge in what is known as Old Pro Ma village, which was not attacked during the May 16 crackdown. Lai Hit comes from one of those families. Like everyone else in the area, he had no intention of revealing which party he voted for, but said he was well equipped to make a good choice. “If they do not do what they promised – they said they would reduce corruption – I will not support them any more, because it is my right,” Lai Hit said. Unofficial results yesterday suggested the ruling Cambodian People’s Party had won all 46 positions as commune chief in Kratie province. Cambodia’s main opposition, the Sam Raisy Party, picked up 70 council seats, while the royalist Norodom Ranariddh Party won just two.


To contact the reporters on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com David Boyle at david.boyle@phnompenhpost.com


Protecting the Central Cardamom Forest Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Emmeline Johansen

Conservation International has focused more than 10 years of our work in the Cardamom Mountains. In 2002, we were extremely pleased that the government set aside 402,000 hectares for the Central Cardamoms Protected Forest (CCPF). The CCPF has extremely high biodiversity and watershed value. It is home to about onethird of all endangered and rare species in the country’s Forestry Law and almost 50 species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as threatened. It is also the source of some of the country’s largest rivers and safeguards a vital watershed. Protection of CCPF is particularly exemplary given the larger in-country context of intense economic land concessions and other pressures impacting on forests. CI played a critical role in protecting the CCPF, helping to declare it as a protected forest, conducting research, and generating information about the natural bounty and importance of the CCPF and it resources. We also developed conservation agreements with communities living in and around the CCPF to help communities protect natural resources and explore alternative livelihoods. And we sub-granted funds to the Forestry Administration to bolster their patrolling and other enforcement efforts. Through protection of the CCPF, a wealth of ecosystem services are provided to the 2,000 people living inside its borders and the thousands more living around it. These include forest for sediment control and water-flow regulation; water for fisheries in the Tonle Sap via the Pursat River; and water for hydro-power production south of the CCPF. The potential for forest carbon investments is also being explored, given the Cambodian government’s interest in these projects as part of its national green growth strategy. Ultimately, CI aims to build national capacity to protect forested ecosystems, develop a trust fund for CCPF, and align partners to protect the zone buffering the CCPF. We aim for a future where forests, watershed and other resources are protected so that biodiversity and the Cambodian people benefit, both now and in the future. Emmeline Johansen is the regional communications manager, Asia Pacific Field Division, for Conservation International


Ruling party wins big Monday, 04 June 2012 Post Staff

A woman casts her vote yesterday in Kampong Cham province during nationwide commune elections. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Preliminary results in Cambodia’s third commune elections yesterday point to another overwhelming victory for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. According to preliminary polls for 14 provinces released by the party itself last night, the CPP had won control in every commune in nine of the provinces, including in Phnom Penh and had only lost one commune in three others. The National Election Committee was broadcasting results one commune at a time throughout the night on state television. At a press conference early yesterday evening, NEC president Im Suosdey said there had been information delays in gathering the results. “We wait for the result from the provinces; we cannot release the result as fast as we wanted, it needs to take some time,” he said. At the time of printing, results for Kampong Thom and Kampot showed CPP domination. Pailin province, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold, proved itself a CPP stronghold as well


with the ruling party taking 73 per cent of the vote, up from 59 per cent of the vote in 2007, the director of the provincial information office there told the Post. SRP spokesman Yim Sovann last night said preliminary results indicated there had been some improvement for his party, which won 28 commune chief seats in 2007. With counting still ongoing, the SRP claimed it had already won 22 commune chief seats in six provinces. However, Yim Sovann was quick to say the party did not accept the results. “We reject the results and we want a re-election. There have been too many irregularities,” Yim Sovann said, adding that the opposition party had evidence of voter names being deliberately deleted off lists, of commune chiefs distributing fake identification to minors and rampant vote-buying. Despite claiming at least 21 commune chief seats, Human Rights Party spokesman Pol Ham was a a bit deflated about his party’s performance in its first commune election. “We aren’t really happy with the result, we had expected more than that,” he said. “A lot of our supporters are the poor who have difficult coming in to vote,” Pol Ham said. He said he believed the party had also been thwarted by CPP vote-buying and negative opposition party propaganda calling the HRP a puppet of the CPP. Funcinpec spokesman Tom Sambol said the party was ready to officially declare victory in only one seat in Banteay Meanchey, but was awaiting more results. NRP spokesman Muth Channtha said he had no information about election results. Earlier in the day, SRP MP Son Chhay told the Post the opposition party was hoping to boost the number of commune council chiefs from 28 to 150 with yesterday’s vote. He highlighted the near doubling of success for the party between the 2002 and 2007 elections, when they secured 23 per cent of the vote. Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who cast his vote yesterday morning in Phnom Penh’s Tonle Basaac commune, said the announcement of the re-integration of the royalist parties had buoyed support for his party.


He emphasised that his eponymous Norodom Ranariddh Party had implemented a central policy aimed at working closely with the ruling CPP. “Funcinpec was . . . a very long partner working with the Cambodian People’s Party. And I have also co-operated well and worked with Samdech Hun Sen to resolve problems in our country,” he said. The prince also called on the NEC, provincial and commune election committees to perform their duties well, as they had a reputation for not being independent. NEC’s Im Suosdey said about 60 per cent of the roughly 9.2 million registered voters had cast their vote in choosing councils to administer Cambodia’s 1,633 communes and urban sub-districts, known as sangkats. But the election monitoring group Comfrel reported that voting rates at observed sites had decreased from 71 per cent in 2007 to 61 per cent this year. “A possible reason for the decrease is because the people get tired of voting and not seeing any change,” board member Thun Saray said. Post reporters on the ground in Kampong Cham and Prey Veng reported particularly low turnout in the communes visited in those provinces. In Prey Veng, some polling officials estimated there was only a 50 per cent turnout yesterday, down from more than 70 per cent in previous elections. In Kampong Cham, early unofficial head counts from Comfrel stood at an average 63 per cent voter turnout, down roughly 20 per cent on 2007, Comfrel monitor Nhek Sophy said. He said reasons for the significant decrease in turnout include an uninterested populace, voters lacking proper documents at polling stations and the expense of travelling to voting sites. Neang Sovath, an Adhoc co-ordinator, said that while the elections were more peaceful than those in 2007, some villagers were not interested in voting because they could not see what change candidates will bring. Predictions of victory for the CPP came early and often in Kampong Cham town, where the provincial governor, Hun Neng, is Prime Minister Hun Sen’s older brother and where National Assembly president Heng Samrin goes to vote. “I can say the CPP will win, but I don’t know by how much we will win,” Heng Samrin told the Post. According to preliminary CPP polls last night, the long-standing ruling party had won 161 out of a total 173 communes in the province. In Kandal, Hun Sen was already in a celebratory mood as he cast his vote near his residence in Takhmao district.


All smiles as he entered the polling station, he held his folded voting slip to his lips and kissed it before slipping it into the ballot box. In response to reporters’ shouted questions, he jokingly said the law forbade him from commenting. “I am sorry, in accordance with the laws [on elections], they [NEC] do not allow me to make a statement in the surroundings of the polling station,” he said to laughter. Kandal province, long a CPP stronghold, provided good reason for the prime minister’s happy mood, if the reactions of voters were anything to go by. Chheang Ratanak, 59, who cast his ballot at the same polling station as Hun Sen, declined to say which party he supported but said he believed the CPP would win. “I speculate that the CPP is going to win this election, because my CPP commune chief has built road and drainage infrastructure according to the promise,” he said. Reporting by Buth Reaksmey Kongkea, Khouth Sophak Chakrya, Kim Yuthana, Meas Sokchea, Mom Kunthear, Vong Sokheng, Bridget Di Certo, Joseph Freeman, Derek Stout, Stuart White and Cassandra Yeap in Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kandal, Phnom Penh and Prey Veng


Stations put kibosh on poll news Monday, 04 June 2012 Shane Worrell

Hosts of a radio show scheduled to broadcast commune election news yesterday were forced to play music instead after pressure from the government, its spokesman told the Post. Pa Nguon Teang, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, said Voice of Democracy, an independent media outlet, had planned to broadcast election news on Sarika FM 106.5 in Phnom Penh and Angkor Ratha FM 95.5 in Siem Reap. Management of both stat-ions, however, intervened to stop the content being aired. “The ministry said all broad-casts of the election were not allowed. They said it was a National Election Committee regulation for two days,” he said, adding that the Phnom Penh station had aired music, while the Siem Reap station closed for the day. A spokesman from Angkor Ratha said the station’s transmitter had been damaged. Information Minister Khieu Kanharith and Sarika executives could not be reached. To contact the reporter on this story: Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com


Top officials eyed in KRT probe: report Monday, 04 June 2012 Bridget Di Certo

Cambodian People’s Party top leader Heng Samrin (r) Chea Sim (l) Photograph: Phnom Penh Post

Cambodian People‟s Party heavyweights Chea Sim and Heng Samrin are named along with Cambodian Army chief Pol Sareoun and another senator as “persons of interest” in an investigation into government opposed Case 003 at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, Australian newspaper The Age reported yesterday. International reserve co-investigating judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet named the four as potentially having information about “atrocities committed against ethnic Vietnamese civilians living on the border with Cambodia”, the paper reported. Additionally, documents obtained by the Post over the weekend show that Brother No 2 Nuon Chea‟s defence team has filed a motion for public disclosure of the “forwarding order” by the now-resigned Swiss judge. “In a forwarding order issued shortly before his departure (the „Forwarding Order‟), Judge Kasper-Ansermet made it known to the [Office of the Co-Prosecutors] that – in his considered judicial opinion – Heng Samrin, Chea Sim, Ouk Bunchhoeun and Pol Sareoun may fall within the ECCC‟s personal jurisdiction,” the request, filed on Friday, reads. Under court rules, a “forwarding order” is issued by investigating judges to prosecutors when the judges have found new information that was not included in the original


prosecutorial submissions. Prosecutors then must decide whether to file additional submissions directing investigations into these new facts. According to The Age, “new facts” discovered by Kasper-Ansermet include “a premeditated attack on an undefended civilian Vietnamese village and a supposition that other similar attacks occurred, along with evidence of repeated incursions into Vietnamese territory”. The confidential court document alleges the four are likely to have crucial information due to their positions of authority in the areas where the attacks, termed “brutal and illegal”, occurred, the paper reported. If prosecutors decide to include the “new facts” in the investigations into Case 003 against air commander Sou Met and navy commander Meas Mut, it would mean more victims of the regime are entitled to apply for civil party status. However, tribunal pre-trial chamber judges have previously taken a narrow approach to public information pertaining to cases 003 and 004. When international co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley last year attempted to give information to the public about the crime sites in Case 003, he was slapped with a gagging order by judges. Cambodian co-prosecutor Chea Leang has registered her disagreement over even the prospect of a Case 003 and said she is of the view that the ECCC “will fulfil its mandate” with Case 002, which is now being heard at the tribunal. Additionally, even if the prosecutors, together or acting independently, decide to extend the parameters of Case 003 to include the “new facts” and consequently require investigations including investigations into the four named CPP officials, there is no guarantee this will actually occur. Kasper-Ansermet‟s Cambodian counterpart You Bunleng yesterday again affirmed that he did not recognise the legality of any of the Swiss national‟s acts. “As I already stated, I did not do any joint investigation with LKA, because he is not a legal international investigating judge. I only work with legal investigating judge,” said You Bunleng, who himself was on the committee that refused to endorse the UN‟s appointment of Kasper-Ansermet. You Bunleng said he is not conducting any investigative acts “as there is no international co-investigating judge, which means I am not allowed to do any investigation”. Heng Samrin, Chea Sim and senator Ouk Buncchoeun were summonsed by the tribunal in September 2009 to give evidence during the investigation stage of Case 002 but did not comply with the order. The Post reported that shortly after these senior politicians were summonsed, Minister of


Information Khieu Kanharith said that while politicians “could appear in court voluntarily, the government‟s position was that they should not give testimony”. He said that “foreign officials involved in the court” could “pack their clothes and return home” if they were not satisfied with the decision. When contacted yesterday, Khieu Kanharith said he would not answer questions relating to the tribunal because he was busy monitoring the commune elections. Cheam Yeap, spokesman for the CPP, and Pol Sareoun could not be reached for comment. To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at bridget.dicerto@phnompenhpost.com


Alcohol fuels post-election attack Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Lieng Sarith

A Sam Rainsy Party member attacked a member of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party with a knife on Sunday during a drinking session immediately following the commune election in Kampong Cham province, Prey Chhor district police said yesterday. “The case was not politically motivated, but was caused by rancour,” said district police chief Keo Seng Hoan. He added that the victim, 40-year-old So Phoeun, and the alleged attacker, Mach Chhai, 30, are relatives and frequently quarrel with each other. Keo Seng Hoan said the dispute flared up less than an hour after the election, when So Phoeun had been drinking with neighbours at a restaurant near the election office. Mach Chhai soon joined the group and, after becoming involved in an argument, allegedly cut So Phoeun’s right wrist before fleeing the scene. The attack took place during the two-day alcohol ban issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. The victim was hospitalised and the suspect was still on the run yesterday. To contact the reporter on this story: Lieng Sarith at sarith.lieng@phnompenhpost.com


‘Arbitrary decision’ decried by silenced outlets Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Joseph Freeman and Vong Sokheng

The two US-backed media outlets and a local NGO’s news service whose broadcasts in Khmer were yanked off the airwaves by government officials before Sunday’s elections aren’t staying silent about the effect of such a move, with one calling it a giant step backward for the country. The absence of stories from the field stemmed from a decision by the Ministry of Information to force multiple FM radio stations not to broadcast election coverage from Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. Pa Nguon Teang, director of the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, said the centre’s news service, Voice of Democracy, was cut off as well. “This is a lawless ban and signifies growing danger for media and freedom of expression in Cambodia,” he said VOA Khmer service manager Chris Decherd said the ban cut off hundreds of thousands of listeners, and that was a conservative estimate. Because of the ban, “we lost more than half our audience on one of the biggest news days of the year”, he said, adding that VOA programming was back on the air yesterday morning. Buth Bovuth with the Ministry of Information confirmed media reports that the order was sent to several stations. When contacted by the Post, he would not explain why pulling the curtain on VOA and RFA election coverage was necessary, saying the election was over and calling the incidents “old news”. Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said the country’s election law mandates a “cool down” period during the election in which political commentary is barred. “The foreign [media] has to respect the Cambodian law, and this was not the first time of banning. We did the same in a previous election.” Radio Free Asia expressed disappointment in a statement yesterday: “This arbitrary decision is especially troubling as it was made during the final days of the commune election campaign, a time when the free flow of election information is critical.” To contact the reporters on this story: Joseph Freeman at joseph.freeman@phnompenhpost.com Vong Sokheng at sokheng.vong@phnompenhpost.com


Boeung Kak disgrace prompts renewed lobbying of World Bank Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Cambodian and international NGOs, unions and community groups

Children protest the jailing of the their mothers outside the Justice Ministry last week. Thirteen of 15 women were arrested during a protest over a long-running land dispute. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Following the imprisonment of 15 land activists, more than 100 Cambodian and international NGOs, unions and community groups have cautioned the World Bank that any resumption in new lending to the Cambodian government would send a dangerous signal. Their letter to its president, Robert Zoellick, and its president-elect, Kim Yong-jim, is reprinted in its entirety below. It has recently come to our attention that the World Bank is considering ending its suspension of new loans to the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and preparing an Interim Strategy Note to facilitate new lending. We, the undersigned organisations, write to express our deeply held view that, despite some positive developments regarding the Boeung Kak Lake case, now is the wrong time to end the suspension. Doing so would not only risk undoing gains made, but would also send a dangerous message to the RGC in light of the spate of recent killings and unwarranted jailing of activists, including Boeung Kak community leaders. We believe that these appalling events call not for reward and the injection of more funds, but rather a coordinated and public condemnation by the international community, including the World Bank.


The past month has seen a series of shocking and inexcusable events in Cambodia. On April 26, Chut Wutty, a tireless environmental activist was shot dead by armed forces after taking two journalists to a logging area in Koh Kong province. On May 16, Heng Chantha, a 14-year-old girl was killed by a soldier during a brutal forced eviction of a village in Kratie province. On May 22 female residents of Boeung Kak staged a peaceful demonstration on the sand dunes that cover what was once a village on the shores of the lake. The demonstration followed thwarted efforts by one family to demarcate the boundary of their home, which had been submerged in sand during the filling of the lake. While singing about their plight, the protesters were surrounded by a mixed force of military police, anti-riot police and district guards, who used violence to break up the demonstration and then arrested 13 women, including a 72-year-old. A video clip of these events is available at this link: www.licadhocambodia.org On May 24th the women were convicted by the Phnom Penh court on baseless charges of inciting others to take land illegally and obtaining land illegally. Seven of the women were sentenced to two years and six months in prison, five were sentenced to two years and the 72-year-old woman, Nget Khun, was sentenced to a term of one year. During the trial, the police arrested two more Boeung Kak community representatives who were prepared to testify as witnesses for the 13 women on trial. We respectfully appeal to you not to authorise re-engagement by the bank with the RGC under these circumstances and to continue the suspension until a more strategic and judicious moment for engagement arises.

We regard the issuance of land titles to 631 Boeung Kak families earlier this year following the Prime Minister’s sub decree granting the remaining residents 12.44 hectares of land around the former lake as a significant human-rights victory. We understand that the principled stand taken by the World Bank following the Inspection Panel’s findings of noncompliance with operational policies during the design and implementation of the Land


Management and Administration Project played an integral part in achieving this outcome. We applaud the bold leadership of the president in this situation and consider this wise decision-making to have contributed in no small part to the legal security and piece of mind that these 631 Cambodian families now enjoy. Yet, we remain deeply concerned about the 3,500 Boeung Kak families, who had already reluctantly accepted the inadequate compensation package and left their lakeside homes under extreme duress, and who now suffer severe hardship trying to make ends meet each day. We are also concerned about the 94 families that have been excluded from the benefits of the Prime Minister’s sub decree and remain under the threat of forced eviction. Together these families represent an estimated 85 percent of all Boeung Kak residents who submitted the Request to the World Bank Inspection Panel. We are aware that there may be some entry points for UN-HABITAT to support these displaced and excluded families. We urge the World Bank to take all possible action to facilitate this support, including through high-level dialogue with relevant agencies and provision of financing for remedial action. We also note that there may be other organisations in a position to operationalise aspects of the Bank Management’s January 2011 Action Plan, including financing measures that respond to the needs of tenure insecure and resettled communities from the Boeung Kak area. The bank should not passively accept the lack of progress in supporting displaced and excluded groups to date as a fait accompli. Rather, it should proactively work to identify possible interlocutors to remedy harm done, and as bank Management itself commits to do, “make every effort to implement the Action Plan”. If necessary, this should entail the provision of unilateral Bank support to displaced families through a trust fund and administered through an NGO or other agency. The community itself has appealed to president Zoellick to ensure a fair resolution for the displaced and excluded families before the bank provides any further financing to the RGC. The public statements made by bank representatives in August 2011 have led the community to believe that this would be the case. We note that country director Annette Dixon stated at the time: “Until an agreement is reached with the residents of Boeung Kak Lake, we do not expect to provide any new lending to Cambodia.” The World Bank lending freeze provided a powerful boost to the community’s five-year struggle, which has become an inspiration to marginalised communities throughout Cambodia facing dislocation from their homes, land and the natural resources that they depend upon for survival. We believe that re-engaging now, particularly following the unlawful arrest and imprisonment of Boeung Kak community leaders, would send a dangerous message of approval to the RGC and undermine the community’s hope that they will not be left alone in their stand against the powerful forces of injustice. Commitments made by the World Bank, either privately or publicly, should not be reneged upon, or else the credibility of the bank and its commitment to its safeguard policies and contractual requirements on borrowers to respect them will be seriously undermined. Conversely, we believe that if the bank maintains the freeze until a comprehensive agreement is reached with the requesters, and the brave human rights defenders of Boeung Kak Lake are released from prison, it will


contribute immeasurably to the twin long-term goals of a more just and equitable Cambodian society and a more accountable World Bank. <div>Please enable JavaScript to post a new comment</div>


Boeung Kak women visited by MPs Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Shane Worrell and Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Thirteen Boeung Kak women locked in Prey Sar prison after a three-hour trial on May 24 are threatening to go on a hunger strike in protest, an opposition Sam Rainsy lawmaker said yesterday. A team of SRP MPs, including Mu Sochua, was granted access to the prison yesterday to check on the health and well-being of the 13 and another Boeung Kak woman, Ly Chanary, who was arrested outside the women’s trial. “They told us their health is OK and none of them are being tortured, but they miss their families,” lawmaker Keth Khy said, adding that the MPs had been the first visitors the women had been allowed to see. “The women told us they want to hunger strike. We asked them not to do this and accepted their request for us to approach the King to ask for their release,” he said. Mu Sochua left for the US after the visit, where she will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Keth Ky said. “Mu Sochua has promised to ask her to intervene,” he said. Mu Sochua called for Clinton to take action immediately after the women’s three-hour trial and sentencing. “I’m calling on the international community to suspend aid,” she told the Post on May 24, adding that financial contributions from overseas should no longer be given directly to the government, but to NGOs. Families, friends and supporters of the Boeung Kak 15, which also includes Sao Sareoun, a man, visited Prey Sar on May 26, but were not allowed in. When the Post visited last Wednesday, guards prevented members of rights group Licadho and reporters from getting close to the fence the women were being kept behind. The 13 women were arrested at Boeung Kak lake on May 22. They were charged two days later with disputing authority and illegally occupying land owned by Shukaku, CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin’s firm. Ly Chanary and Sao Sareoun were later charged with the same offences. To contact the reporters on this story: Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phonmpenhpost.com Khouth Sophak Chakrya at sophakchakrya.khouth@phnompenhpost.com


Children are not tourist attractions’ Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Calvin Yang

The campaign against orphanage tourism extends from advertising on tuk-tuks to social media, including Twitter and Facebook, where many orphanages post photos of children to woo tourist dollars. Photograph: supplied

The number of orphanages has almost doubled over the last five years, but many are mere businesses set up to ride the tourism boom, leaving children vulnerable to exploitation. On International Children‟s Day last Friday, Friends International, a social enterprise that works to improve the lives of marginalised children and youths, reiterated its call on tourists to rethink visiting or volunteering at orphanages, saying this was ultimately detrimental to children in Cambodia. “Children are not tourist attractions,” said James Sutherland, international communications coordinator with the NGO. “Please stop and think about that, and help us to end this practice by sharing our campaign message.” The campaign to end orphanage tourism, established by Friends International and the ChildSafe Network, is concerned that some orphanages are thinly-disguised businesses that are exploiting children. In recent years, orphanage tourism, has become a thriving industry in Cambodia, as the popularity of visiting orphanages continues to rise.


Such visits include day tours, dance routines and performances by the children, accompanied with a request for a token donation to assist with the cost of running the orphanage. “More tourists are coming to Cambodia and orphanage visits have become part of the Cambodian travel experience,” said Sutherland, who has been with Friends International for the past three years. This surge in numbers has created a market for fraudulent orphanages and a demand for more orphans. Earlier this year, the United Nations Children‟s Fund (UNICEF) reported that the number of orphanages has jumped from 153 to 269 over the past five years. Surprisingly, most orphanage operators do not tell their visitors that of the 12,000 children residing in these orphanages accross Cambodia, 72 per cent of them still have at least one living parent. “Not every orphanage is trying to earn the tourist dollar, but there are many that are making use of this opportunity to make a fast buck and the children end up being the victims,” Sutherland said. “These children need to be protected, not exploited.” Since its launch in October last year, the campaign, strongly backed by international child rights groups and the Cambodian government, has been an active force in educating residents and travellers about the need to stop promoting orphanage tourism. “People need to know the causes that they are supporting and the effects of their actions,” said Heidi Bain, corporate liaison and social awareness manager at Friends International. “What we are trying to do here is to help people understand that their actions may be bringing more harm than good.” To date, at least 3,500 restaurant owners, hotels and guesthouses operators, motodops and tuk-tuk drivers, and other individuals who have direct contact with tourists have been roped in to help. These ChildSafe Network members are trained to protect children from potentially abusive situations. Since its launch, the campaign‟s posters, flyers and advertisements have been placed in tourist hotspots throughout the Kingdom, and awareness has been raised overseas through partners such as travel agents and airlines. The campaign also has a robust social-media presence, especially on Twitter and Facebook. “It takes a long time for an initiative like this to be sustainable,” Sutherland added. “But we have received a lot of support over the past few months and it has been encouraging.” Currently, Friends International is working on a long-term solution to support vulnerable children and their families. It is eight times more expensive to house a child in an orphanage than it is to house them with their families at home due to the general costs of operating the institution, Friends says.


As part of the campaign, it has formed alliances with several organisations to promote vocational training and community-based initiatives, where income goes to the family and the provision of social support. Some of the projects aimed to generate income for the family include the Friends „n‟ Stuff shop, where visitors can purchase products made by beneficiaries, and Friends the Restaurant, which runs training programs for young people. “Rather than visiting and volunteering at the orphanages directly for a short amount of time, it would make more sense to support family or community-based options which would help keep children with their family,” Bain said. “Children need to be with their family and the orphanage is often the last resort,” Bain added. “Even then, orphanages are homes for the children and people should not be going to children‟s home as and when they like,” Bain said. For more information on the risks of orphanage tourism and tips on ensuring children‟s safety visit www.thinkchildsafe.org.


CPP still rules Boeung Kak, Borei Keila Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Shane Worrell

Former Borei Keila residents were bussed to a polling station in Phnom Penh on Sunday. The bus was reportedly arranged by supporters of the Cambodian People’s Party. Photograph: Nicolas Axelrod/Phnom Penh Post

Critism of the Cambodian People’s Party has been overt in recent months as those from Boeung Kak lake and Borei Keila have taken to the streets to vent their frustration and anger at their housing situations. But an equivalent backlash at the polls was nowhere to be found on Sunday, and both communities – like most other parts of the country – remain under CPP control after the nation’s commune elections. Despite this, some residents in Boeung Kak and Borei Keila are still expecting change – because the government has promised it, Boeung Kak lake resident Doung Kea told the Post yesterday. “We are waiting for authorities to give us a resolution about our land dispute, because they claimed they would after . . . commune elections,” he said. Doung Kea, like others, is still waiting for a land title at Boeung Kak and expects the government to demarcate the 12.44 hectares of land it promised residents in August.


“Through the CPP’s policy, it has proclaimed that if their party won, they would make an effort to resolve all these people’s issues.” It might not be so straightforward, though, according to Keo Sakal, the commune chief who presides over Borei Keila in Prampi Makara district’s Veal Vong commune. After winning on Sunday, she asked the CPP’s secretariat-general Say Chhum to urge Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema and Suy Sophan, the owner of development firm Phan Imex, to provide solutions for those who have slept under stairwells and near rubbish since their eviction on January 3, she said yesterday. “But the Borei Keila issue is not my jurisdiction, so I am afraid of giving a solution for them,” she said. Am Sam Ath, senior technical adviser for Licadho, said yesterday many residents from Boeung Kak and Borei Keila were expecting authorities to find solutions. “I hope [the government] will resolve the . . . land dispute problems. If not, it could affect voters in the national election next year,” he said. Chhay Thirith, chief of Srah Chak commune, where Boeung Kak is situated, declined to comment yesterday. To contact the reporters on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at sophakchakrya.khouth@phnompenhpost.com Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com


French to aid rural bankers Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Rann Reuy

Staff at state-owned Rural Development Bank will gain technical assistance training from the French aid agency AFD, insiders said. Bank president Son Kunthor said he will meet AFD officials on a trip to France to discuss technical assistance after he finishes a trip in China to seek US$200 million in loans for developing Cambodia’s rice sector. “This provision is for strengthening the rice sector in areas such as management and inspectation,” Son Kunthor said yesterday. To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at reuy.rann@phnompenhpost.com


Governance – a key challenge for NGOs Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Ernst Jürgensen

There is a huge need for many NGOs to find ways of addressing their own poor governance. Widespread corruption and very limited accountability and transparency at higher levels are key characteristics of the Cambodia society. A patron-client culture favouring families and friends has a ripple effect at all levels of society, including non-governmental organisations. It is, therefore, not surprising that poor governance can also be found among some NGOs in Cambodia. “When I need them they can come”, was the answer of an executive director of an NGO when asked how the relationship should be between him and the NGO’s board in the future. The executive director added: “I relate with them [the board] when I need them.” These statements express, in a nutshell, one of the key challenges with respect to governance of NGOs here. The executive director demonstrated little understanding of the role that the board is supposed to play, and, at the same time, saw it as a kind of service provider (a servant) to him. Ideally, the role of a board of governors should be to provide oversight of the organisation, hire and dismiss the executive director, assess his or her performance, provide strategic direction, assess progress of programs and the organisation, approve budgets and reports, etc. In reality, many NGO boards play a limited role within their organisations; consequently, a number of governance-related decisions, for instance approval of budgets, are made by executive directors rather than the board. In addition, the performance of the executive director is rarely assessed and he or she can remain in the position despite a poor record. What is the reason for the limited role of boards? As already pointed out, executive directors sometimes have an incomplete and wrong understanding of their own role within the organisation; and additionally, they do not properly understand the role of the board. Another factor is the quality of governance that boards provide. Many board members have no or very little experience with governance. One of the reasons for this is that they sometimes are not selected based on their qualifications and/or experience in relevant fields, but are picked because they are a friend or acquaintance of existing board members and/or the executive director. An example of this is an NGO that appointed a very close friend of the executive director as the board treasurer, although this person had very limited financial background and experience. This person was supposed to ensure financial oversight on behalf of the board, but, as could be expected, this did not happen. A further aspect is the gap between the bylaws (constitution) of an organisation and their implementation. Many NGOs have bylaws, which clearly outline the role of the board and the board members, but when it comes to following the bylaws, many boards fail.


For instance, boards are often supposed to approve budgets and reports, but frequently this does not happen. Some NGOs also state in their bylaws that they should have an Annual General Meeting at which the board and management report on the progress of the programs and the organisation, but these meetings rarely take place. Additionally, many boards have short meetings, sometimes over lunch or dinner. This happens a few times a year, giving them far from enough time to deal with important board matters. In short, the performance of boards is often poor and needs considerable improvement if they are to provide proper oversight of their organisations. One reason that boards are frequently unwilling or unable to hold the executive director accountable and assess his or her performance is that several board members may belong to the executive director’s network. These people feel afraid of and uncomfortable criticising the executive director; consequently, poor performance by the executive director remains unchallenged. Sometimes the consequence is that the board becomes a tool for the executive director, as noted in the beginning. Another factor is that board members do not live up to their responsibilities: they attend meetings infrequently, they are inactive during meetings, they resign with short notice, etc. A further aspect is that some board members do not know about the exact purpose of the board. A foreign board member was once asked about this; the person did not know whether the board was an advisory board, governance board, managing board, etc. If one is not aware of the purpose of the board, it becomes hard, almost impossible, to function effectively as member. As a result of the limited knowledge and sense of responsibility of some board members, the executive director has to assume a bigger role within the organisation. The lack of functionality of the board can, therefore, lead the executive director into temptations, and if this is coupled with irregular performance assessment of the executive director, the board may put the organisation at risk. Another essential challenge is the issue of accountability. To whom is the board meant to be accountable? It is supposed to be accountable to the stakeholders of the NGO; the beneficiaries, partners, staff, management and donors. The boards of many NGOs are, however, seldom accountable to anyone. They do not meet the beneficiaries, staff or donors, and they do not report to anyone. As a consequence, they are not held accountable for their decisions and performance. They can continue to perform poorly without being replaced. Unfortunately, when boards are occasionally accountable, it is either to the executive director – as some of the Board members might belong to the network of the executive director – or it is upwards, to the donors. Boards are rarely accountable to their primary stakeholders, the beneficiaries. Transparency is another problem. Many boards are not transparent about the activities and decisions they make; thus, the stakeholders hardly ever receive information from them. Some of the stakeholders might know that a board exists, but they do not have a clue about its role: what it does – or is supposed to do.


A further challenge is the constituency of the board. It rarely happens that the board is composed of representatives of the stakeholders, to whom the board is supposed to be accountable. More often, boards are comprised of people who do not represent the stakeholders, and, as a result, the stakeholders may have limited influence in holding an NGO to account. One of the stakeholders that is in a position to hold the Board accountable is the donor(s). However, this seldom occurs. When donors visit NGOs they infrequently, if ever, meet with board members, leaving them with an incomplete understanding of the state of governance or none at all. The donors are mainly interested in meeting the executive director and seeing program activities. Once in a while donors assess or ask a consultancy company to evaluate the governance of the organisation. The quality of these assessments is, however, sometimes very superficial. An example is an NGO that was assessed to have good governance â&#x20AC;&#x201C; based on conversations with the executive director only. A few months later this NGO faced severe governance issues. Another instance is a donor that commissioned an evaluation of the governance of their partners. The donor asked whether the partners in question had bylaws, but did not ask whether the bylaws were actually applied. Some of the reasons for this state of governance among NGOs are: the governance of NGOs mirrors to a large extent the reality of governance that is seen at the highest level of the society. It is often the case that the quality of performance at the top level trickles down to and affects the lower levels; as pointed out in a report on civil society in Asia, many NGOs in Cambodia have been established by international organisations rather than internally grown and they lack links to grassroots levels; finally, governance is a foreign concept that was introduced by international NGOs during the past two decades. In Cambodia NGOs, for very good reasons, criticise the government for poor governance, but as shown there is a huge need for many NGOs, at the same time, to find ways of addressing their own poor governance record. A first crucial step for NGOs could be to consider to what extent they live up to the ideals of governance, as described above, and compare them with the reality within their organisations. Based on this, a concrete plan for improvements can be developed. Improved governance of NGOs will greatly help to raise their credibility among stakeholders and in the wider society. And that is needed.


HRP chief floats union with opposition party Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Stuart White

HRP president Kem Sokha speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Khouth Sophak Chakrya/Phnom Penh Post

Human Rights Party president Kem Sokha announced yesterday his party’s willingness to merge with the Sam Rainsy Party before next year’s national elections, eliciting calls for increased co-operation between the two parties from the SRP. Monday’s press conference at HRP headquarters was the party’s first mention of its keenness to join forces since SRP officials turned down a potential merger between the two parties in 2008. But this time, the HRP feels it is approaching the subject from a position of parity. “The SRP has looked down on the HRP, because it could not go forward or get much support,” Kem Sokha said. “Those were excuses that [the SRP] used to say it did not want to get together, but now we have similar votes.” In a statement released yesterday, acting SRP president Kong Korm lauded the parties’ newfound closeness and called for co-ordination among SRP and HRP commune council members, but stopped short of endorsing a full-fledged merger.


Self-exiled SRP founder Sam Rainsy echoed the sentiment, calling on the parties “not to unite with words, but with deeds”. However, he didn’t close the door on a potential merger, saying that the year leading up to national elections would serve as a sort of trial period.

“If co-operation between the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party goes well, then it bodes well for a merger, but if you talk about a merger now, it is premature, and it is risky,” he told the Post by phone from Paris. “This is a test. If we can work together, then it will lay the ground for the possibility of a merger in the future.” The talk of uniting the parties raised questions about whose platform would survive the merger, but HRP President Kem Sokha waved off such concerns, saying that both parties stood for land ownership rights, human rights and women’s rights. “Our ideas are the same, because we want to change the current leader and protect Cambodian sovereignty and integrity,” he said. Sok Touch, an independent political analyst and rector at Khemarak University, said that it isn’t just the HRP and SRP who should consider merging, but all opposition parties. According to him, the opposition fared poorly in commune elections because, individually, they lacked resources, and splintered the vote by attacking one another. “If those parties have only one goal for the sake of national prosperity and the people, it’s time that the opposition parties unite,” he said. “Otherwise, those parties are only giving the appearance of democracy in Cambodia.” Cheam Yeap, a CPP lawmaker, pointed to the CPP’s wins in 1,591 of 1,633 communes as evidence that the Cambodian people supported the party’s efforts in social and economic development. “We have built concrete basics, so we are not afraid of any party, even though those parties unite as one and there are only two parties like in USA,” he said. Sam Rainsy, however, took a different view of the results, saying opposition commune council members could form a majority in as many as 100 communes. “The real loser in these elections is the CPP, because when HRP and SRP come together,


there will be opposition to their commune chiefs, because we will be able to block them,” he said. “The balance of power has shifted in favour of the democratic forces.” To contact the reporters on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at sophakchakrya.khouth@phnompenhpost.com Stuart White at stuart.white@phnompenhpost.com


Judge’s investigation likely ended with exit Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Bridget Di Certo

Extended investigations into atrocities allegedly committed during border battles between Cambodia and Vietnam may not proceed, court sources have told the Post. Australian newspaper The Age reported on Sunday that international reserve coinvestigating judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet had issued an order requesting the prosecution include additional criminal acts and crime sites within the scope of governmentopposed Case 003 investigations. National Assembly president Heng Samrin, senate president Chea Sim, the head of Cambodia’s army Pol Sareoun and senator Ouk Buncchoun are specifically named as instrumental witnesses in the extended investigations, which the prosecution has not agreed to, according to a source close to the court. International co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley told the Post yesterday he would not comment about matters relating to the forwarding order. “I cannot publicly address confidential matters and you will recall the PTC’s criticism of me last year in respect of Case 003 where all I was doing was trying to ensure that the civil parties could exercise their legal rights,” Cayley said by email. He added: “That decision now articulates the very narrow legal framework on my rights of public dissemination under the rules.” Until the confidence on the document is lifted, the British prosecutor said he was obliged by law not to publicly talk about the matter. The defence team for Brother No 2 Nuon Chea has filed a request for this confidence to be lifted, as they have long sought the testimony of senior ruling Cambodian People’s Party officials in connection with the case against their client. To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at bridget.dicerto@phnompenhpost.com


Promoting complementary feeding practices Tuesday, 05 June 2012 UNICEF

About 40 per cent of children under the age of five in Cambodia are too small for their age and 28 per cent are underweight. Complementary feeding for infants over six months old is necessary. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post

Globally, malnutrition is the underlying cause of an estimated 35 per cent of deaths of children under five years of age. In Cambodia, malnutrition affects the majority of children under the age of five. It is caused by the inability to afford nutritious food, high rates of infectious disease and inappropriate feeding practices. The consequences of malnutrition are severe: it is one of the top underlying causes of child mortality and morbidity in Cambodia and its lasting repercussions continue into adulthood, impairing both mental and physical development that results in poor performance in school and limited opportunities for work in later life. Malnutritionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s visible impact can be seen across Cambodia. Roughly 40 per cent of children age five and under are too small for their age and another 28 per cent are underweight. A smaller, though troubling, 11 per cent of children are wasted (thin). Cambodian women are equally susceptible to malnutrition, with 19 per cent of women between 15 and 49


considered too thin â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a situation that increases risk for complications during birth and leads to low birth weight of their babies. Although great strides have been made in breastfeeding promotion, recommended levels of complementary feeding practices are extremely low and remain an important contributing factor to the high rates of malnutrition in Cambodia. Proper understanding of what and how to give complementary food to children is very important, particularly for those aged six months to 24 months. Complementary foods are rarely introduced at the correct age of six months. In most cases, mothers start weaning when the baby is four months old, and some mothers wait longer than six months. The complementary foods which are typically provided are lacking in protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Mothers and caretakers play a very critical role in making sure that children receive appropriate complementary feeding (with a focus on a variety of ingredients and thickness of porridge). In order to achieve this, there is a need to develop an effective national communication strategy to promote appropriate complementary feeding practices in Cambodia In April, the National Centre for Health Promotion and the National Maternal and Child Health Centre in close collaboration with the United Nations Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fund (UNICEF) and other development partners launched a communications for behavioural impact campaign to promote complementary feeding in Cambodia. Financially supported by Spain through the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund and USAID, the campaign will contribute to improving the nutritional status of Cambodian children by increasing the rate of appropriate complementary feeding practices of infants and young children age six months to 24 months. Ultimately, implementing infant and young child feeding activities will contribute to the reduction of child malnutrition and will accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals one and four, eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; and reduce child mortality respectively.

What can women do to improve nutrition? It is important for women to realise that the nutritional status of their child largely depends on their own nutrition before, during and after pregnancy; as their nutrition has an impact on their childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nutrition. Once pregnancy is suspected, it is important for women to confirm their pregnancy as quickly as possible. Once confirmed the pregnant woman should eat more, take iron tablets, and start monitoring her weight gain. Deficiencies of iron and zinc are among the top public health concerns in the country, and for some people, iron tablets can cause side effects such as nausea or black coloured stools. However, side effects can be reduced by taking the tablet at night and after a meal. During pregnancy a woman needs around 400 extra calories every day; this is roughly equivalent to one extra meal each day.


Ideally, weight gain should be tailored for the individual. There is no specific rule for weight gain during the first three months because of individual variation, but during the last six months a general rule is that a woman should gain at least one kilo per month. For the whole pregnancy, it is normal to gain eight to12 kilos. After the birth of the child, the mother should start breastfeeding immediately and continue taking micronutrient tablets. Although some mothers believe they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t breastfeed or do not have enough breast milk, this is very rare. If the child is positioned correctly to breastfeed, nearly all mothers have plenty of breast milk. Until six months of age, children only need breast milk for good nutrition. Avoiding giving tea, water, or other drinks and foods also avoids germs that can make a child sick. This is important healthy behaviour for good nutrition of children because it reduces illness and breast milk contains many healthy substances that are not found in infant formula or other milk products. In Cambodia the 2005 Law on Marketing of Products for Infant and Young Child Feeding restricts marketing of infant formula, including prohibiting doctors and nurses from promoting infant formula or giving samples to their patients. The law is not always followed. It is important for mothers to know that breast milk is best and that feeding infant formula puts their child at a higher risk of dying before age five and of developing chronic disease such as diabetes later in life. At six months of age, additional food is needed, but it is recommended for a mother to continue breastfeeding until the child is two years old. When additional food is started at six months, it is important for parents to know that rice is not enough for good nutrition. Different foods, such as fish, eggs, meat, oil, vegetables and fruit, should be added over time to make sure that children get the calories, vitamins and minerals that they need for good nutrition. Many children older than six months get too little or not the right complementary food because parents lack knowledge or cannot afford nutritious food. Hidden hunger in the form of micronutrient deficiency is an added risk to children. Although the majority of children now receive vitamin A supplements an increase from 29 per cent in 2000 to 71 per cent in 2010, those who do not receive the supplement face an increased risk of child mortality or blindness. Meanwhile, 55 per cent of children and almost half of women of reproductive age are anaemic. Good nutrition will help a child to recover quickly from illness. If a child has diarrhoea or other common illnesses it is important to keep breastfeeding and keep giving the child food. This may be difficult because illness affects a childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s appetite, but giving more food and liquid during sickness promotes recovery and maintains good nutrition. After birth, parents should also start monitoring the weight gain of their child. As with a pregnant woman, child weight gain should be individualised because there are differences between girls and boys and all children will gain weight differently, but some general guidance include:


From birth, a childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s weight should almost double after the first three months and double again around two years of age. At one year the child should weigh around 9 kilos. If a child is not gaining weight, parents should seek care from a trained health provider such as a doctor or nurse. Finally, increased attention to sanitation and hygiene, especially regular hand-washing, can help to ensure good nutrition of children. For more information about complementary feeding practices in Cambodia, please contact UNICEF nutrition specialist Joel Conkle at jconkle@unicef.org


Role small, memory cloudy, former KRouge banker tells court Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Kristin Lynch

For six hours yesterday at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, Sar Kimlomouth, who served as deputy director general of the state bank, consistently downplayed both his level of authority within the department and his ability to recall information from so long ago. Throughout the day’s proceedings, lawyers for the prosecution and civil party teams attempted to extract details about the hierarchy within Democratic Kampuchea’s Ministry of Commerce from a former banker within the regime. “I’ve never been chairperson of any meeting … and if there were such a meeting [in which I was chairman], it would’ve been a low-profile meeting,” Sar Kimlomouth said in response to questions about his attendance at a meeting with Korean diplomats. “It’s been 30 years since then, so I can’t recall every detail,” he said during one exchange, in a mantra that would become familiar throughout the day’s proceedings. At times, the former financier seemed to contradict himself when speaking to the extent of his knowledge about “disappearances” within the ministry. In the morning, while being questioned by senior assistant prosecutor Tarik Abdulhak, Sar Kimlomouth said he had been “concerned” and “worried” about his safety because of the sudden disappearance of members within the ministry. However, later, during questioning by civil party lawyers, Sar Kimlomouth backtracked, saying that he did not know about the arrests of his colleagues and his “concern wasn’t about coming to know about [the arrests], it was the general situation that I observed when people didn’t turn up for work”. “I noticed people didn’t turn up to work sometimes, and I wondered what happened to them, but I didn’t know … they were arrested or where they were taken to,” he said. Sar Kimlomouth also downplayed the importance of the bank he helped lead, saying it was mostly “symbolic” and “nominal”. Defence teams for Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan will conduct their crossexaminations of Sar Kimlomouth today. To contact the reporter on this story: Kristin Lynch at kristin.lynch@phnompenhpost.com


SRP, HRP combine for over 30 per cent of vote Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Bridget Di Certo and Vong Sokheng

Votes are tallied at a polling station in Phnom Penh on Sunday following commune elections. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Although the ruling Cambodian People’s Party is touting a landslide win in Sunday’s commune elections, support for it and junior partners Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party actually slipped as a percentage of the popular vote – dropping to 68 per cent this year from 74 per cent in 2007. Support for opposition parties, meanwhile, jumped to 31 per cent in the third mandate from 25 per cent in 2007, according to leaked results from CPP headquarters. The results, assembled by CPP commune chiefs and councillors, show the CPP sweeping to victory with roughly 62 per cent of the popular vote. The SRP picked up 20.8 per cent, while royalist parties Funcinpec and NRP picked up 3.9 and 2.9 per cent, respectively. Newcomer HRP earned 9.8 per cent of the popular vote, performing particularly well in Prey Veng, where it secured 23 per cent of the vote, and Kampong Cham, with 17 per cent.


The SRP performed well in Phnom Penh and Kampong Thom, picking up 29 and 27 per cent of the vote. According to the results, the CPP performed strongly in the coastal regions of Kep, Preah Sihanouk and Koh Kong, with negligible wins for any other parties in those provinces. CPP spokesman Cheam Yeap said the initial polls by the CPP usually matched the final results announced by the NEC, as the political party used the same calculations as the electoral body. “We have a mass winning election in which we [CPP] won 1,592 of the total 1,633 communes nationwide,” Cheam Yeap said. The National Election Committee has said it will not announce official results until June 24, and results may even be delayed beyond that, as provincial election committees are responsible for resolving all election complaints before the numbers become valid. “The commune election committees will take three days for counting the votes and then will send to the Provincial Election Committee, which will need five days to examine the results and must resolve all complaints before sending to the NEC,” Tep Nyth said. “The political party that wins the majority of seats will then appoint the chief of the commune/sangkat, and the political party winning the next highest votes will appoint the first or second commune chief, depending on numbers,” he added. The Cambodian formula, colloquially known as the “the highest-average formula”, means the top vote-getters gain a number of seats greater than their percentage of the vote, while “losers” receive considerably fewer seats than their vote tally might suggest. It’s a formula observers have said leaves little room for political participation by smaller parties. “It is a technical formula that caused lots of controversy in 1998 when they put this formula in the election law. The formula is very much in favour of the winner, and the winner will take more seats,” Koul Panha said. It is due to this “unique” formula, as Koul Panha described it, that in 2007, SRP ended up with just 23.42 per cent of commune seats in the Kingdom despite winning 25.19 per cent of the vote. The discrepancies are accentuated by big wins and losses in particular communes. For example, the NRP garnered 8.11 per cent of the popular vote in 2007, but earned just 3.74 per cent of the seats – a prospect the HRP will face despite storming into the political sphere with 9.8 per cent of the popular vote. “This is why in the National Assembly, the CPP has 58 per cent of the vote but 70 per cent of the seats,” Koul Panha said. “Many people suggest using the formula used during the UNTAC time, because it is fairer for the small opposition parties, and in Thailand, they use a


proportional formula where if you get 60 per cent of the vote, you get 60 per cent of the seats.” In 2007, despite winning only 60.82 per cent of the popular vote, the CPP secured 70.40 per cent of commune seats. The CPP scooped up 62 per cent of the popular vote in Sunday’s elections in which about 64 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot. Monitors reported up to a 20 per cent drop in voter turnout for the commune elections, however, Koul Panha said this should not be attributed to apathy. “People do think the commune elections are important, but maybe not that important that they would sacrifice time and money going to vote,” he said. “The national election is a different thing and more people are interested,” he said, adding it was “very common” to get a lower turnout at the commune level. To contact the reporters on this story: Bridget Di Certo at bridget.dicerto@phnompenhpost.com Vong Sokheng at sokheng.vong@phnompenhpost.com


Boeung Kak royal petition stymied Wednesday, 06 June 2012 Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Demonstrators take part in an event to mark World Environment Day in Phnom Penh yesterday. About 200 villagers from communities in the Prey Lang forest joined the march. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Boeung Kak demonstrators left the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh disappointed yesterday after their petition calling for the release of 15 Boeung Kak lake residents locked in Prey Sar prison was not accepted. About 50 villagers, flanked by supporters, marched to the palace from the National Assembly to deliver the petition, intended for King Norodom Sihanomi. However, police rather than palace officials awaited their arrival and issued them clear instructions to disperse. “I would like to ask [demonstrators] to leave five representatives here to submit the petition and others to break up,” deputy chief of Daun Penh district police Lim Hong said. Yorm Bopha, a Boeung Kak lake resident and spokeswoman, said villagers had been too scared to leave the five representatives, fearing the police would arrest them – like they had the 15 prisoners the demonstrators were trying to free.


“We would like all the villagers who support the submission of the petition to wait [here] and we five will go to present them with the petition,” she said.

When no palace officials came to accept it, the villagers left for their homes. “We really pity all the villagers – they have no choice but to come to ask for intervention from the King, but no palace official came to accept their petition,” Neop Ly, program officer at the Housing Rights Task Force, said. Earlier, the group asked the National Assembly for a response to a request they made last month asking for 12.44 hectares of land at Boeung Kak to be demarcated. They were told they will receive a response today, Yorm Bopha said. The demonstrators were in a group of more than 300, some of whom wore animal masks and held banners for World Environment Day as they urged the government to protect the nation’s forests and resources. Vorn Pov, the president of Independent Democratic Economy Association, one NGO involved, said the government needed to prevent illegal activity in forests. “We plead the government ... to seriously punish officials who are found in collusion with illegal loggers,” he said. Members of the King’s cabinet could not be reached for comment yesterday.


To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at sophakchakrya.khouth@phnompenhpost.com


Conflict's female victims far from forgotten Wednesday, 06 June 2012 Rong Chhorng

Neth Saroeun, 56, who was raped by a Khmer Rouge cadre in Pursat province in 1975, attends a hearing at the ECCC last year. Photograph: Mary Kozlovski/Phnom Penh Post

Dear Editor, I write in response to the letter from Margot Wallström, a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, published in The Phnom Penh Post on May 29 and headed “The forgotten Khmer Rouge victims”, and the reply to Wallstrom’s letter by Andrew Cayley, QC, the International Co-Prosecutor of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The Victims Support Section, in partnership with the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation and the Cambodian Defenders Project, has already embarked on the implementation of the “Promoting Gender Equality and Access to Justice for Female Survivors and Victims of Gender-Based Violence under the Khmer Rouge Regime” project. This project, funded by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, is designed to last from October, 2011 to late September of 2014. Stories of victims of Khmer Rouge sexual violence do not remain hidden. First, on May 31 this year, the Victims Support Section, the Cambodian Defenders Project


and the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation began holding “launching of genderresponsive practice” thematic workshops. These workshops are just a part of activities designed to redress the suffering of female and gender-based violence victims in order to enable them to access justice, mental support, documentation and dissemination of information about gender-based violence under the Khmer Rouge, women’s rights and good practice of gender-sensitive transitional justice measures (such as Cambodian Women Hearing). This activity is within the context and scope of non-judicial measures mandated in the role of the Victims Support Section in compliance with the ECCC’s Internal Rule 12, which states: “The Victims Support Section shall be entrusted with the development and implementation of non-judicial programs and measures addressing the broader interests of victims. . . developed and implemented in collaboration with governmental and nongovernmental organisations external to the ECCC.” Second, in addition to the efforts to promote gender equality and access to justice for female survivors and victims of gender-based violence under the Khmer Rouge regime, the core project of the Victims Support Section, meaningful victims’ participation in the proceedings of the ECCC, has been a backbone for the victims to exercise their rights through judicial proceedings and participate in the justice-seeking process as civil parties in the proceedings of the ECCC. In fact, the majority of the 3,864 civil parties in Case 002 are females. Third, female victims of the Khmer Rouge regime have been assisted in attending hearings and have been provided with legal representation through the victims’ support programs of non-governmental organisations, working in line with the ECCC’s public-affairs section and the Victims Support Section as partners. They have received mental support, legal counselling and outreach advocacy for their rights and their access to justice in the due diligence process of the Khmer Rouge tribunal. The Khmer Rouge’s female victims have not been forgotten in the current work of the ECCC’s Victims Support Section. Rong Chhorng Chief of the Victims Support Section of the ECCC Send letters to: newsroom@phnompenhpost.com The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.


Defence homes in on assumptions of rank Wednesday, 06 June 2012 Kristin Lynch

During the final day of testimony by Sar Kimlomouth at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday, the defence team for co-accused Khieu Samphan sought to weaken the ties between their client and the Ministry of Commerce, within which Sar Kimlomouth, a former banker within Democratic Kampuchea, worked. “At the time of Democratic Kampuchea . . . did you think that . . . Mr Khieu Samphan was your direct superior?” national co-lawyer for Khieu Samphan, Kong Sam Onn, asked. “No, I don’t think so, but it was my own assumption or guess that he could’ve been the person in charge of the upper level, but I wasn’t sure … I don’t know the organisational structure,” Sar Kimlomouth replied, adding later that “there was no communication with Hem [the revolutionary alias for Khieu Samphan]. The bank didn’t report to him, nor did he contact the bank.” Khieu Samphan has played down his role in the regime, but the prosecution has tried to link him directly to the Ministry of Commerce. According to the indictment against the three defendants, nearly 500 Ministry of Commerce staffers were sent to S-21 prison. Khieu Samphan’s defence team also tried to raise doubts about Sar Kimlomouth’s testimony by portraying him as basing his responses on information gathered recently. In one exchange between Kong Sam Onn and Sar Kimlomouth, Khieu Samphan’s lawyer referred to an interview the former banker had with the co-investigating judges in which he said he “assumed” Khieu Samphan was a high-level Ministry of Commerce official. “Can you tell us . . . the basis for your assumption?” Kong Sam Ann asked. “I was presented with a number of documents . . . I made my assumption based on those documents,” he replied. “So . . . you made your assumption relying on the documents, not because of your knowledge in that time period?” Kong Sam Ann said. “That’s correct,” Sar Kimlomouth replied. To contact the reporter on this story: Kristin Lynch at kristin.lynch@phnompenhpost.com


Governance – a key challenge for NGOs Tuesday, 05 June 2012 Ernst Jürgensen

There is a huge need for many NGOs to find ways of addressing their own poor governance. Widespread corruption and very limited accountability and transparency at higher levels are key characteristics of the Cambodia society. A patron-client culture favouring families and friends has a ripple effect at all levels of society, including non-governmental organisations. It is, therefore, not surprising that poor governance can also be found among some NGOs in Cambodia. “When I need them they can come”, was the answer of an executive director of an NGO when asked how the relationship should be between him and the NGO’s board in the future. The executive director added: “I relate with them [the board] when I need them.” These statements express, in a nutshell, one of the key challenges with respect to governance of NGOs here. The executive director demonstrated little understanding of the role that the board is supposed to play, and, at the same time, saw it as a kind of service provider (a servant) to him. Ideally, the role of a board of governors should be to provide oversight of the organisation, hire and dismiss the executive director, assess his or her performance, provide strategic direction, assess progress of programs and the organisation, approve budgets and reports, etc. In reality, many NGO boards play a limited role within their organisations; consequently, a number of governance-related decisions, for instance approval of budgets, are made by executive directors rather than the board. In addition, the performance of the executive director is rarely assessed and he or she can remain in the position despite a poor record. What is the reason for the limited role of boards? As already pointed out, executive directors sometimes have an incomplete and wrong understanding of their own role within the organisation; and additionally, they do not properly understand the role of the board. Another factor is the quality of governance that boards provide. Many board members have no or very little experience with governance. One of the reasons for this is that they sometimes are not selected based on their qualifications and/or experience in relevant fields, but are picked because they are a friend or acquaintance of existing board members and/or the executive director. An example of this is an NGO that appointed a very close friend of the executive director as the board treasurer, although this person had very limited financial background and experience. This person was supposed to ensure financial oversight on behalf of the board, but, as could be expected, this did not happen. A further aspect is the gap between the bylaws (constitution) of an organisation and their implementation. Many NGOs have bylaws, which clearly outline the role of the board and the board members, but when it comes to following the bylaws, many boards fail.


For instance, boards are often supposed to approve budgets and reports, but frequently this does not happen. Some NGOs also state in their bylaws that they should have an Annual General Meeting at which the board and management report on the progress of the programs and the organisation, but these meetings rarely take place. Additionally, many boards have short meetings, sometimes over lunch or dinner. This happens a few times a year, giving them far from enough time to deal with important board matters. In short, the performance of boards is often poor and needs considerable improvement if they are to provide proper oversight of their organisations. One reason that boards are frequently unwilling or unable to hold the executive director accountable and assess his or her performance is that several board members may belong to the executive director’s network. These people feel afraid of and uncomfortable criticising the executive director; consequently, poor performance by the executive director remains unchallenged. Sometimes the consequence is that the board becomes a tool for the executive director, as noted in the beginning. Another factor is that board members do not live up to their responsibilities: they attend meetings infrequently, they are inactive during meetings, they resign with short notice, etc. A further aspect is that some board members do not know about the exact purpose of the board. A foreign board member was once asked about this; the person did not know whether the board was an advisory board, governance board, managing board, etc. If one is not aware of the purpose of the board, it becomes hard, almost impossible, to function effectively as member. As a result of the limited knowledge and sense of responsibility of some board members, the executive director has to assume a bigger role within the organisation. The lack of functionality of the board can, therefore, lead the executive director into temptations, and if this is coupled with irregular performance assessment of the executive director, the board may put the organisation at risk. Another essential challenge is the issue of accountability. To whom is the board meant to be accountable? It is supposed to be accountable to the stakeholders of the NGO; the beneficiaries, partners, staff, management and donors. The boards of many NGOs are, however, seldom accountable to anyone. They do not meet the beneficiaries, staff or donors, and they do not report to anyone. As a consequence, they are not held accountable for their decisions and performance. They can continue to perform poorly without being replaced. Unfortunately, when boards are occasionally accountable, it is either to the executive director – as some of the Board members might belong to the network of the executive director – or it is upwards, to the donors. Boards are rarely accountable to their primary stakeholders, the beneficiaries. Transparency is another problem. Many boards are not transparent about the activities and decisions they make; thus, the stakeholders hardly ever receive information from them. Some of the stakeholders might know that a board exists, but they do not have a clue about its role: what it does – or is supposed to do.


A further challenge is the constituency of the board. It rarely happens that the board is composed of representatives of the stakeholders, to whom the board is supposed to be accountable. More often, boards are comprised of people who do not represent the stakeholders, and, as a result, the stakeholders may have limited influence in holding an NGO to account. One of the stakeholders that is in a position to hold the Board accountable is the donor(s). However, this seldom occurs. When donors visit NGOs they infrequently, if ever, meet with board members, leaving them with an incomplete understanding of the state of governance or none at all. The donors are mainly interested in meeting the executive director and seeing program activities. Once in a while donors assess or ask a consultancy company to evaluate the governance of the organisation. The quality of these assessments is, however, sometimes very superficial. An example is an NGO that was assessed to have good governance â&#x20AC;&#x201C; based on conversations with the executive director only. A few months later this NGO faced severe governance issues. Another instance is a donor that commissioned an evaluation of the governance of their partners. The donor asked whether the partners in question had bylaws, but did not ask whether the bylaws were actually applied. Some of the reasons for this state of governance among NGOs are: the governance of NGOs mirrors to a large extent the reality of governance that is seen at the highest level of the society. It is often the case that the quality of performance at the top level trickles down to and affects the lower levels; as pointed out in a report on civil society in Asia, many NGOs in Cambodia have been established by international organisations rather than internally grown and they lack links to grassroots levels; finally, governance is a foreign concept that was introduced by international NGOs during the past two decades. In Cambodia NGOs, for very good reasons, criticise the government for poor governance, but as shown there is a huge need for many NGOs, at the same time, to find ways of addressing their own poor governance record. A first crucial step for NGOs could be to consider to what extent they live up to the ideals of governance, as described above, and compare them with the reality within their organisations. Based on this, a concrete plan for improvements can be developed. Improved governance of NGOs will greatly help to raise their credibility among stakeholders and in the wider society. And that is needed.


Judges stand by Khmer Rouge court's efforts Wednesday, 06 June 2012 Bridget Di Certo and Joseph Freeman

Preap Phin, who was a witness to rape during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, testifies last year at a mock hearing organised by the Cambodia Defenders Project in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Nina Loacker/Phnom Penh Post

In an uncharacteristic public statement, judges of the Khmer Rouge tribunal‟s Trial Chamber yesterday spoke out in response to an opinion piece by Margot Wallstrom, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. In the piece, which ran in numerous publications, including on Post on May 29, Wallstrom said that unless the tribunal found a way to address crimes of sexual violence, “it will be perceived as implicitly reinforcing the silence . . . and not providing a counterbalance to the impunity that has prevailed.” The Trial Chamber judges, who typically do not respond to media reports, replied yesterday that the ECCC had “implemented measures to afford appropriate protection and support to victims of sexual violence, honour their courage in coming forward, and acknowledge the significance of their contribution to the ECCC‟s work”. “Special Representative Wallstrom expresses regret that aside from the issue of forced marriage, crimes of sexual violence have only been marginally taken up by the ECCC, and


recommends that „the scope of what can be prosecuted … be revisited‟,” the judges wrote. “This possibility is excluded by the ECCC‟s legal framework.” “[All] international tribunals, including the ECCC, can only ever hope to bring to justice a small percentage of perpetrators of all crimes committed,” the statement reads. The judges, like Wallstrom, highlighted the importance of extra-judicial measures like the Cambodian Women‟s Hearing held in December in empowering victims of sexual violence and educating the public. The reality of the tribunal‟s mandate is that victims of sexual violence will receive little – if any – reparation. Victims in the tribunal‟s landmark case against Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, had their names placed in the final judgment and received a compilation of his statements of apology. Victims of sexual violence in the second case against three ageing former regime leaders do not even know when they will have their day in court, let alone what type of reparations they will receive. The Trial Chamber split Case 002 into a series of shorter trials. Forced marriage is not included in the first trial segment, and the judges have not yet scheduled the content of the second or subsequent trial segments. At the recent launch of a book compiling testimonies from victims of sex crimes who spoke at last year‟s Cambodian Women‟s Hearing, the compilation‟s author said there were still grievous cultural barriers to discussing the issue of sexual violence under the Khmer Rouge. “I understand that we sometimes have the culture of hiding: hiding things, hiding information, hiding all those negative things,” Duong Savorn, author of The Mystery of Sexual Violence Under the Khmer Rouge Regime, said. “The question is whether we should hide this information, continue to not disclose this information, or reveal something for the people of the next generation.” In a survey by the Cambodian Defenders Project, 30 per cent of respondents said they had witnessed a rape during the Khmer Rouge regime. To contact the reporters on this story: Bridget Di Certo at bridget.dicerto@phnompenhpost.com Joseph Freeman at joseph.freeman@phnompenhpost.com


Khmer Rouge court judge’s request dead Wednesday, 06 June 2012 Bridget Di Certo

Extended investigations requested by former UN investigating judge Laurent KasperAnsermet would not proceed at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, co-prosecutors said yesterday. The investigations, relating to alleged Democratic Kampuchea incursions into Vietnam, “were already investigated as part of Case 002” and “bear no relation to the crime sites in Case 003”, Chea Leang and Andrew Cayley said. “Accordingly, the Co-Prosecutors have respectfully declined to seise the Co-Investigating Judges of these alleged new facts,” they said, adding that they had considered the gravity of the crimes, the scope of the current investigation and “the importance of prioritising the efficient completion of ongoing investigations and trial proceedings before the ECCC”. On his final day in office, Kasper-Ansermet issued a “forwarding order” saying he had discovered “new facts” in Case 003 that, in his view, required investigation. According to a report in the Australian newspaper The Age, these “new facts” concerned atrocities committed against Vietnamese villages and civilians. According to the report, National Assembly president Heng Samrin and Senate president Chea Sim were named as key witnesses in the forwarding order. Cambodian Army chief Pol Sareoun and senator Ouk Bunchhoun were also listed as persons of interest, according to reports. “Various press reports have incorrectly and misleadingly identified individuals as potential targets of investigation,” the co-prosecutors said, adding that they had sought judicial authorisation to publicly comment on the forwarding order, which was marked confidential. Heng Samrin, Chea Sim and Ouk Bunchhoun were previously summonsed for questioning in relation to investigations into Case 002 but never appeared. The defence team for Brother No 2 Nuon Chea have long sought the testimony of these ruling Cambodian People’s Party officials in connection with the case against their client. Michiel Pestman, defence counsel for Nuon Chea, said the investigations into Case 002 were known to have not been conducted properly. “It cannot have been a proper investigation. The beginning of an investigation, maybe, not more than that. That is also why it is so important that they are heard by the trial chamber, to fill in the gaps left in our judicial investigation,” he told the Post yesterday via email. Documentation Center of Cambodia legal adviser Anne Heindel said the issues about conflict with Vietnam during the Khmer Rouge regime had been raised in a general way in Case 002 investigations.


“If you are talking about an attack on this specific village or that village, the reality is that the court is not able to address specific-fact situations like that,” Heindel said. “Even in Case 002, the reality of the split indictment is that there are so many important crimes sites that are likely not to be addressed [by the court]. “Case 002 is extremely young at this point, and we don’t even know if a second split trial will happen.” Heindel said the scope of the court’s mandate and resources were very real issues limiting the court’s ability to broaden its workload. “The court already has too much on its plate,” she said. Prosecutors identified “the importance of prioritising the efficient completion of ongoing investigations” as key in their considerations to reject expanding Case 003. The UN-backed tribunal itself is in the midst of perhaps the worst funding crisis it has yet faced. When contacted by the Post last week, UN Special Expert for the tribunal David Scheffer said there had been “some progress” in garnering financial assistance for the tribunal’s operations. The international side faces the imminent prospect of having funds run dry. Earlier this year, the Cambodian side went through its own dire financial stretch, with national staff going without salary for months. “Several nations have stepped forward with new funding, but we remain about US$25 million short on the international budget of about $35 million for 2012,” Scheffer said. To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at bridget.dicerto@phnompenhpost.com <div>Please enable JavaScript to post a new comment</div>


Ta An lawyer battles blockage Wednesday, 06 June 2012 Bridget Di Certo

Ta An, 79, former deputy secretary of the Central Zone under the Khmer Rouge, eats rice at his home in Battambang last year. Photograph: Thomas Miller/Phnom Penh Post

The international lawyer for Case 004 suspect Ta An has written to the UN undersecretarygeneral for legal affairs to request that she intervene in what he has called a bad-faith attempt to block his appointment in the government-opposed case. The subject of defence lawyer Richard Rogers’ accusation are a pair of UN staffers he says have used underhanded tactics to prevent him taking on his proper role. “Despite the unequivocal support for Judge Kasper-Ansermet from the UN, the [Deputy Director of the Office of Adminstration] and [Defence Support Services] have used their administrative authority to frustrate his judicial acts with respect to the assignment of the Suspect’s choice of counsel, by blocking my appointment and denying support,” Rogers said in a letter released yesterday. UN employees Knut Rosandhaug, who serves as the deputy director of the office of administration, and Isaac Endeley, chief of the Defence Support Section, are “continuing to flout a court order issued by the former UN-appointed international reserve Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet”, Rogers says in the letter. According to the letter, Kasper-Ansermet on May 3 issued a Lawyer’s Recognition Decision,


but both UN staffers have “refused to respect the Suspect’s choice of counsel or implement the Order”. According to Rogers, the two UN staffers have exploited the UN/Cambodian divide over former judge Kasper-Ansermet’s authority at the tribunal by asking Cambodian judge You Bunleng to “clarify” Kasper-Ansermet’s order, after the Swiss national had already left the court. As per his stated position, You Bunleng said “no suspect in Case File 004 has been placed under judicial investigation” and as such, no lawyer can be appointed. You Bunleng has explicitly said he does not acknowledge any of the judicial acts of the now-resigned Kasper-Ansermet, who began Case 004 investigations and informed the suspects of their rights, including that of counsel, during his time in office. Legal affairs officer Lars Olsen said the Defence Support Services and Office of Administration had “no views on Mr Richard Rogers’ right to be a legal representative of a suspect in Case 004”. “If a lawyer wishes to be paid . . . additional requirements have to be met,” Olsen said by email, adding that the DSS had already decided Rogers did not meet these requirements. In a letter from DSS chief Endeley to Rogers dated May 30, the former cited a conflict of interest and ethical reasons relating to Rogers’ former post as chief of DSS, in explaining his ineligibility to be a court-appointed lawyer for Ta An. Documentation Center of Cambodia legal adviser Anne Heindel said the procedure to appoint Rogers appeared to be inconsistent with the appointment of other defence counsel. “These are international staff who have been accused of obstructing the investigation, and that is a matter for the UN that it can address internally,” she pointed out. Rogers has requested an independent inquiry as part of a UN settlement of the dispute. To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at bridget.dicerto@phnompenhpost.com


Dengue vaccine in sight Thursday, 07 June 2012 Ben Hirschler/Reuters

A child suffering from dengue fever lies on a bed at the Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh. Dengue causes fever, headaches and agonising muscle and joint pains. Photograph: Reuters

One of the grimmest legacies of the war in the Pacific is still being fought 70 years on, but a victory over dengue, the intensely painful “breakbone fever” that conflict helped spread around the world, may be in sight. Paris-based drug company Sanofi hopes for positive results in September from a key trial among children in Thailand that would set it on course to market a shot in 2015 that would prevent an estimated 100 million cases of dengue infection each year. Of the 20,000 who die annually, many are children. For Sanofi, which has invested 350 million euros (about US$438 million) in a new French factory to make the three-dose vaccine, it could mean a billion euros in yearly sales, as half the world is exposed to the disease, notably in tropical cities from Rio and Mexico City to Manila and Phnom Penh. World Health Organization epidemiologist Steven Bjorge told the Post yesterday that a medicinal measure to prevent the spread of dengue would be instrumental in countries like Cambodia. “If the trials prove that it is effective, then it would be a real step forward, because the


control of dengue is very difficult. There is no medical treatment and there is no vaccine, so we have to fall back on mosquito control, which is very imperfect,” Bjorge said. “I’m sure the trial would be run well, but it would be another year before we have usable data. [I] don’t see that there would be any results anytime soon, to ensure safety as well as effectiveness,” he said, adding that the Thailand trial was the furthest progressed of any drug-development trials in the world. It has been long wait. Identified in local outbreaks in Asia, the Americas and Africa since the 18th century – and noted as a serious military hindrance by US generals in their 1898 war against Spain in Cuba and the Philippines – dengue was spread to global pandemic proportions in part due to the mass movements of armies through the Pacific in World War II. In the past 50 years, there has been a 30-fold jump in cases. The World Health Organization officially puts infections at 50 million to 100 million a year, although many experts think this assessment from the 1990s badly under-estimates the disease. Most patients survive, but it is estimated to kill about 20,000 every year, many of them children less able to fight it off. WHO’s Bjorge emphasised the urgency of a vaccine for dengue. “The vaccine’s been needed for 30 to 40 years. We’ve just been waiting and waiting and waiting. The technical problem is that there are four different viruses that produce the same disease,” he said. “It’s been necessary to produce four separate vaccines and make a cocktail. Complicating the problem is that the second or third time you get dengue, you can get complications.” The good news for countries like Cambodia, is that like competitor GlaxoSmithKline, whose new malaria shot has shown promise, Sanofi is preparing for pressure to make its drug accessible to billions too poor to pay the market price. “Everyone is aware of the fact that the vaccine has to be cheap enough for ordinary people to purchase, for the government to vaccinate large numbers,” Bjorge said. “If you don’t vaccinate large numbers, you’re going to have outbreaks and epidemics.” Its estimate of more than a billion euros (about US$1.25 billion) in annual sales assumes that it is added to routine immunisation schedules in Asia and Latin America and is also adopted by travellers from farther afield as well as military medics in the US and Europe. Meeting that sales potential – while getting the vaccine to hundreds of millions who need it across the tropics – will require a careful balancing act on pricing and supply of a product that has yet to be given a commercial brand name. Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the new vaccine is a potential breakthrough, but warned its rollout may not be straightforward.


First, the vaccine needs to be given in three installments over the course of a year in order to counter the threat from four different types of dengue virus, none of which confers immunity for the others. “There are going to be some challenges,” said Levine. “There’s really good economic potential from this vaccine, but I think it may take a ramp-up of three to five years.” In an ideal world, healthcare experts would like a single-dose or, at most, a two-dose vaccine for mass immunisation. A simpler regimen would also be better for travellers, although Pascal Barollier of Sanofi Pasteur, Sanofi’s vaccine arm, says many users will be people making regular trips to see families in Asia or Latin America who have time to plan ahead. The military, too, often has lead time for troop movements. In any case, Sanofi is putting its money where its mouth is by spending 350 million euros on a new dengue vaccine factory near Lyon, which is already in test production. It is a substantial gamble, since Sanofi will only learn whether the vaccine really works when it analyses data from a first study of its efficacy on 4,000 Thai children. Results from that clinical study, in what is known as the Phase IIb of the international standard three-stage process of assessment, are expected in the third quarter – most likely September. They will also be presented for scientific scrutiny at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta in November. If the data is good, Sanofi will file for market approval in countries where dengue is endemic like Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Mexico in 2013, suggesting a regulatory green light in 2014 and commercial launch in early 2015. Early tests have shown a balanced immune response against all four dengue types, and Duane Gubler of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, who has researched dengue for four decades, is optimistic. “Everything they’ve done so far looks very good,” he says. “I think it will be a much better vaccine than [the one created for] malaria.” He expects Sanofi’s vaccine will show an efficacy rate of at least 75 to 80 per cent, well above the 50 per cent or so seen with GSK’s malaria shot, which faces the added technical problem of fighting a complex parasite rather than a virus. In Cambodia, there were 2,579 dengue cases, with 14 deaths, in the first 18 weeks of the year – an increase of 353 per cent when compared to the same period last year. Char Meng Chuor, director of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, pointed out that the similarity of the dengue and CHIKIV viruses and the rise in CHIKIV cases had partly contributed to the fourfold increase in reported dengue numbers.


Former Khmer Rouge secretary describes political policy Thursday, 07 June 2012 Bridget Di Certo

Former district secretary Sao Sarun was the only person of his rank from Sector 105 to escape the Democratic Kampuchea regime without being arrested, killed or “disappeared,” prosecutors told the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday. Witness Sao Sarun provided compelling testimony about the implementation of Khmer Rouge leaders’ efforts to take Cambodia back to “Year Zero”, a policy that entailed communal eating, forced marriage, frequent arrests and “self-criticism” meetings. “After the liberation [of Phnom Penh], I was asked to attend a meeting to understand the political situation,” Sao Sarun said. “They talked about the closing of the market, and that in the future, the markets would be re-opened,” he said, adding that topics including the building of canals and dam irrigation systems, and the prospect of forced marriages, were canvassed. Sao Sarun indicated in his testimony that in his home province of Mondulkiri, the practice of religion was not prohibited, just reduced. He added that Buddhists had already seen all of their pagodas – and most of the houses – levelled by aerial bombardments in the early ’70s. For ethnic animists, practice of religion was tempered as they were instructed to be “economical” about sacrificing animals, because they should concentrate their efforts on farming, the 80-year-old witness said. When questioned on the persecution of ethnic minority groups such as Chams, Sao Sarun was light on detail, but recalled: “I heard people talking about those Vietnamese [who] were loaded into trucks and sent back to their country.” The indictment against co-accused Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary states that in the late 1970s, Sector 105 was extensively purged. Sao Sarun’s narrative of events leading to his promotion to sector secretary at a meeting with Pol Pot, Son Sen and Nuon Chea in late 1978 was populated with tales of executions conducted via beatings or gunshots, as well as suicides. To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at bridget.dicerto@phnompenhpost.com


Khmer Rouge lessons make impact Thursday, 07 June 2012 Joseph Freeman

Students fill out a questionnaire at a high school in Kampong Chhnang province in January. The questionnaire allows students to rate the quality of the History of Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979) course. Photograph: DC-Cam

When Ly Ratanak, a high school teacher in Kampong Chhnang province, taught history to his students, he hardly touched the subject of genocide under the Khmer Rouge. That started to change about five years ago, when the Documentation Center of Cambodia embarked on its landmark project to print textbooks, train teachers and make genocide education a mandatory part of the curriculum. This week, DC-Cam monitors are visiting the last of 200 high schools to take the pulse of their efforts and make recommendations for improvement. The results are a mixture of the good, the bad and the unexpected. But if the reaction of Ly Ratanak is any indication, much progress has been made in a short amount of time. “It is easy to teach my students now, because we have a detailed document to tell and teach students. They will know a lot about the history of the Pol Pot regime. Before, they thought that it wasn’t true.” Starting at the beginning of 2011, field workers affiliated with the centre scheduled two trips


per month to a sampling of schools in all 24 provinces in Cambodia. They observed classes, interviewed teachers and talked to students. DC-Cam head Youk Chhang said difficulties would arise when teachers who suffered at the hands of Khmer Rouge soldiers would find themselves, years later, teaching the soldiers’ children. The kids would then be singled out for unfair treatment, he said. “The...teaching, it’s about forgiveness, it’s about remembrance,” he said. “But I guess you can’t avoid being personal.” Most of the questions revolved around the documentation centre’s main textbook, A History of Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979). About 500,000 copies of the book were printed, along with teacher and student guides, and sent to all the estimated 1,700 high schools in Cambodia. Before its publication, there was little or no information available in textbook form about Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. According to the documentation centre, a textbook from 2000 about Democratic Kampuchea covered the brutal killings in only a couple of paragraphs. Teachers are still struggling to incorporate the full story into lesson plans. At a high school earlier this year in Preah Vihear province, a teacher told students that there was one good thing about the Khmer Rouge era. “Both the rich and the poor had equal rights,” the teacher said, according to the monitors, before telling the students to ask their grandparents if they wanted more information. Am Sophal, a teacher in Prey Veng, said the coursework gives students more options. “Before, the information was from their parents, but now they know it from a textbook. It is the right way to teach the student.” To contact the reporter on this story: Joseph Freeman at joseph.freeman@phnompenhpost.com


Stark images of Boeung Kak’s changing landscape Thursday, 07 June 2012 Sean Gleeson

Jean-Francois Perigois’s photos depict Boeung Kak lake’s lingering residents against a rapidly changing landscape. Photograph: Jean-Francois Perigois

The contentious dispute over the residents displaced from Phnom Penh’s lakeside district has been captured in a photography exhibition now on display at Meta House. French photographer Jean-Francois Perigois, a resident of Cambodia for the past five years, has spent the past 18 months compiling the works, in the process repeatedly raising the ire of police officers stationed to keep the Boeung Kak development site away from prying eyes. Attempts by authorities to prevent documentation of the dramatic changes in the neighbourhood’s landscape are what Perigois has sought to remedy with his latest collection, Boeung Kak Was A Lake. “Of course, it’s a controversial issue,” he says. “But I’m a witness. I’m just providing a picture, and hopefully discussion comes from there. People should be able to talk, to explain and to say why this is happening.” The elegantly framed exhibition highlights the dichotomy between Boeung Kak’s lingering


residents and the machinery of development that has drained the lake and flattened surrounding buildings. In Watchers, two moto drivers with their backs to the lens gaze out from an overpass into the barren gulf of what was once a thriving community, while Death by the Mud depicts a lone man staring balefully into the distance while perched on a drainage pipe being used to clear the lake’s water. In 2007, Shukaku Inc, a development consortium with ties to the Cambodian People’s Party, was granted a 99-year lease for land around the Boeung Kak area. More than 4,000 residents have been moved from the site as a result of subsequent development works. The issue of the remaining families flared up again late last month, with the arrest of 13 Boeung Kak women who were supporting a family trying to build a new home on land they were evicted from two years earlier. The women were sentenced to two-and-a-half-year jail terms. Before their trial, monk and rights activist Loun Savath was briefly detained for leading a protest rally against the arrests. For the photographer, the story of Boeung Kak epitomises the fraught and uncertain path of Cambodia’s recent economic development. “It’s so sad to see the destruction of an area that should be a public space,” Perigois says. “The country has evolved a great deal in the past 10 years, but sometimes in the wrong way. “Even though it has become less poor in that time, the social distortion between rich and poor has in many respects become larger.” Boeung Kak Was A Lake will be on display at Meta House until Sunday, June 24. To contact the reporter on this story: Sean Gleeson at ppp.lifestyle@gmail.com With assistance from Shane Worrell


Boeung Kak tale resonates in Washington Friday, 08 June 2012 David Boyle

In Washington yesterday, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua lobbied US government officials to withhold military funding to the Cambodian government if it does not meet two political demands ahead of her meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday. Mu Sochua said she would strongly urge Clinton to push the Cambodian People’s Partydominated Cambodian government to release the “Boeung Kak 15”, who were jailed for protesting against forced evictions, before the US secretary of state arrives in Phnom Penh next month. “I am confident and I have high hopes that Hillary will find a solution, and I asked that the solution be found, and that is the release of the women and the man before she arrives in July,” she said. Thirteen Boeung Kak women were sentenced to jail terms of up to two and a half years on May 24 for disputing authority and illegally occupying land granted to ruling party Senator Lao Meng Khin’s firm Shukaku in 2007. Two more people were arrested protesting the rushed trial on the same day and charged with the same crimes but have yet to go to trial. US State Department officials and congressional staffers that she met told her they were aware and concerned by the jail sentences, said Mu Sochua, who is also demanding the government drop convictions against self-exiled SRP leader Sam Rainsy. Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers' Quick and Press Reaction Unit, said, as a sovereign nation, Cambodia would not allow any foreign power to interfere with its independent judiciary. “Well, I think that she [Mu Sochua] just has the right to tell anyone [anything], even tell the god to do something,” he said, adding that government balanced the rule of law with the protection of human rights. When the Shukaku housing and commercial real estate development in the 133-hectare area in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district is completed, about 4,000 families will have been forcibly evicted. To contact the reporter on this story: David Boyle at david.boyle@phnompenhpost.com


Witness recounts Khmer Rouge purge in 1978 Friday, 08 June 2012 Bridget Di Certo

On a single day in November, 1978, 140 Khmer Rouge cadres from Mondulkiri province were sent to Phnom Penh’s notorious S-21 prison, witness Sao Sarun told the court yesterday. Prosecutors were attempting to elucidate testimony from the former district secretary about the massive purges from the area in the late 1970s before the Vietnamese swept the regime out of power. Sao Sarun told the court he communicated directly with Case 002 co-accused Brother No 2 Nuon Chea and Pol Pot about the arrest and detention of cadres in the area, and visited the leaders in Phnom Penh on a number of occasions. “We discussed the issue concerning managing the forces and the masses, and had to raise awareness about people about how they could have self-sufficiency and advise forces how to strengthen the defence of border areas,” Sao Sarun said, adding that on one occasion, he discussed “economic matters” with Khieu Samphan. The 80-year-old’s testimony was adjourned midway through the day due to his ill-health, and another witness, former child soldier Khoem Ngoin, took the stand. “I joined the [Khmer Rouge revolution] army with other friends. I didn’t understand much, I simply went along with others,” said Khoem Ngoin, who joined the revolution when he was 15. He spoke of being “terrified” about deserting the movement, fearing that retribution would be meted out against his family. “My mother could not leave the co-operative to visit me, and I could not visit her,” Khoem Ngoin said. “At that time, religious practice was not allowed. We were not allowed to practise any religious ceremonies. Even currency was abolished.” Khoem Ngoin went on to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was led by Ieng Sary at the time. There, his task was to accompany foreign delegations, including those from China. “With guests, we were not allowed to talk to guests about politics and wherever we went we could not simply move around freely,” he said. To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at bridget.dicerto@phnompenhpost.com

4-10 June Phnom Penh Post  

4-10 June Phnom Penh Post