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NGOs Want New UN Goals to Focus on Rights | The Cambodia Daily

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5/29/2013 11:18 AM


NGOs Want New UN Goals to Focus on Rights | The Cambodia Daily

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5/29/2013 10:48 AM


Govt coming around: Subedi | National | National

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GOVT COMING AROUND: SUBEDI Last Updated on 27 May 2013 By Kevin Ponniah

The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, Surya Subedi, speaks optimistically about Cambodia’s continued development on Saturday in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post United Nations rights envoy Surya Subedi has been on the end of more than one public lambasting during his latest visit to the Kingdom, but as he prepared to depart, he told the Post that behind closed doors, officials had accepted some of his critiques. Speaking Saturday, Subedi said his ninth official trip to Cambodia had put his discussion with the government “back on track” after officials refused to meet with him on his last mission in December. “The relationship with the government has been rocky, up and down. But finally this time, they were forthcoming with information, willing to admit what the deficiencies are, willing to work with me,” he said, adding that a number of his recommendations have either been implemented, are in the process of being so, or are “under active consideration”. This trip may well have been Subedi’s last, as the UN’s two-year extension of the special rapporteur’s mandate, adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2011, expires later this year. Recommendations implemented by the National Election Committee (NEC) ahead of July’s poll include the print and online publication of the voter list and the appointment of two senior retired judges to the committee, Subedi said.

5/31/2013 2:05 PM


Govt coming around: Subedi | National | National

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Although recent studies have claimed the national voter registration list is riddled with irregularities, he added that no one has petitioned him directly to claim their names are missing, and hence he has not taken direct “action”. A longer-term recommendation, to allow Cambodia to meet the “international benchmark” for free and fair elections by making the NEC an autonomous, constitutional body, will not be implemented before the election, he said. Subedi’s week wasn’t an easy one – students, some with alleged links to pro-CPP youth groups, protested at a public lecture he delivered Tuesday evening, calling for his removal, while Cambodian Human Rights Committee president Om Yentieng blasted him as biased a day later. The sentiments expressed on those occasions echoed past government criticisms, but according to Subedi, he remains an “optimistic person”. “I believe that making a small difference is better than making no difference,” he said, adding that dialogue with other parties “keeps me going . . . keeps me encouraged”. Since Tuesday, many Cambodians have expressed their support for his mission, he added. “That sort of protest does not, and will not, distract me or deflect me from the work I am mandated to do in this country by the United Nations.” In an apparent reference to the opposition party, Subedi warned in his pre-departure press conference against the exploitation of “racial sentiments” during the election campaign. UN member states will decide whether to extend the special rapporteur’s mandate after Subedi presents to the Human Rights Council in September. “Removing me from the picture, the position of special rapporteur should be continued,” he said, adding he could remain in the position if asked. “I will certainly consider my options. But given what I have been able to achieve . . . there is still some contribution that can be made. So I would be willing to carry on.”

5/31/2013 2:05 PM


Factories Asked to Voluntarily Assess Safety | The Cambodia Daily

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5/29/2013 1:20 PM


Underage, overworked | National | National

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UNDERAGE, OVERWORKED Last Updated on 29 May 2013 By Shane Worrell and Chhay Channyda

A young worker at Ying Dong Shoes factory walks outside the compound’s walls in the capital’s Kantouk commune on Monday. The factory is facing allegations of underage labour, with claims that girls as young as 13 have been knowingly hired. Editor’s note: subject’s face has been blurred to her protect identity. Photo by Kara Fox Child labour is being used at a footwear factory owned by the same Taiwan-based company as Wing Star Shoes – where two workers were killed in a ceiling collapse this month – numerous employees have told the Post. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a number of workers at Ying Dong Shoes in Phnom Penh told the Post this week that the company was employing 13-year-olds. Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo said yesterday that the factory, Wing Star and New Star Shoes in Preah Sihanouk province, are owned by the same company, while Japan-based footwear company Asics has confirmed that it buys from all three. One worker at Ying Dong said girls as young as 13 were employed at the factory in Por Sen Chey district’s Kantouk commune, despite bosses firing more than 100 underage workers prior to Khmer New Year. “The company removed about 100 workers in March or April because they were too young to work here,” she said. “Some were just 13 or 14, but they had used other people’s names.” Another Ying Dong worker corroborated this, adding that some girls had been fired only to return under fake

5/31/2013 1:56 PM


Underage, overworked | National | National

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names. “If you ask them, they will not tell you the truth – but they are too young to work,” she said. One worker who was happy to reveal her age but not her name told the Post she was 14 and used her sister’s identity to work at Ying Dong. “I don’t have ID, so I couldn’t work here. I [tell them] I’m 19,” she said, adding others were doing the same. A former Ying Dong employee said the issue is not a new one at the factory – in 2010, she worked alongside 13and 14-year-olds. “Ying Dong needed workers, so they didn’t have strict rules to recruit workers. They allowed them to work, even though they didn’t have proper documents,” she said. Under the Cambodian Labour Law, footwear and garment factories can employ anyone as young as 15 but must provide modified duties to those under 18. Many factories – including Ying Dong – claim to employ only those aged 18 or over. Kim Dany, 15, was one of two workers crushed to death when a storage level collapsed at Wing Star in Kampong Speu province on May 16. Her family told the Post she had used a fake name – Sim Srey Touch – and claimed that she was 22 to gain work. Joel Preston, a consultant with Community Legal Education Center, said his organisation had found similar cases of underage labour at the third factory, New Star, in Preah Sihanouk’s Mittapheap district. Workers as young as 13 had been detected and CLEC estimated that more than 1,000 were under 18. “It was really difficult speaking with workers about it . . . people are reluctant to talk about [underage labour],” he said. CLEC’s investigation of New Star had also found that in some cases workers had been fired if they worked overtime – something workers under 18 are not allowed to do. Fake documents GMAC’s Loo said there were certainly problems at Ying Dong and his organisation “in no way supports under-age labour”. “[Ying Dong] have some issues with underage workers. They need to recheck records,” he said. But he wasn’t aware of any issues at New Star. “Most of New Star’s workers have been there for donkey’s years. Turnover is low,” he said. Loo answered “yes” to a question about whether all three factories were in the hands of the same owner in Taiwan,

5/31/2013 1:56 PM


Underage, overworked | National | National

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but said he could not provide more details. All factories willingly using underage labour should be punished, he said, but added that workers often used fake documents to trick factory managers into hiring them. “I think when underage workers are discovered, it’s important to know whether they are impersonating,” Loo said. “There is often no reasonable way to ascertain a worker’s age other than by going to their village.” Ying Dong bosses declined to meet with reporters at the factory to respond to allegations they used child labour. A factory floor supervisor at Ying Dong contacted yesterday refused to give his name or comment on ownership, but denied – at first – that the factory used child labour. “No, we don’t have any underage workers,” he said. “You have to be 18 before you can work, and we stick to the rules.” When asked about workers using fake identification, he changed his tune. “The workers are very troublesome. Sometimes they use fake IDs. Actually, you can’t say that we don’t have underage workers – we might have, but it’s very difficult for us to know for sure.” In response to a statutory rape case that raised questions about child workers in Ying Dong, Lei Shi Ken, an administration official, told the Post in January last year that it only employed workers “that are 18 and above”. Each employee, Shi Ken added, needed a birth certificate and identification card to work there. Dave Welsh, American Center for International Solidarity country manager, said he was aware of issues at Ying Dong, adding that by law, anyone aged 15 to 18 could not carry out “hazardous” work – something he said wasn’t clearly defined. “But with heavy machinery in factories, many jobs could be classified as hazardous,” he said. “Besides, in this factory [Ying Dong], we’re not talking about 15, we’re talking younger than that.” Welsh said Asics had a responsibility to respond to the allegations. “It’s horrendous from a moral point of view – and a PR point of view. Brands can claim that they are not aware, but that means they are either duplicitous or genuinely not aware,” he said, adding that neither looked good for them. Complicated issue A spokeswoman for Asics confirmed yesterday that the company sources from all three factories. “Yes, we do [buy from New Star and Ying Dong],” she said. She added, however, that Asics was aware of no issues with underage workers. “They have done audits [at New Star]. The youngest worker is 18 years old. “They verify age [using] IDs, health certification, and, if the workers look particularly young, they also use police verification.” The spokeswoman added that no child labour issues “that we are aware of” at Ying Dong had come to their attention.

5/31/2013 1:56 PM


Underage, overworked | National | National

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“[We] work on international standards . . . and take allegations of child labour very seriously . . . but there are limitations. [Child labour] is pretty difficult to detect. The fact is there will be people who falsify documents to get a job. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality.” The spokeswoman said Asics regularly assesses its factories in three ways: independently; by using accredited third parties; and through international NGO the Fair Labor Association. Preston, from CLEC, agreed that the issue remained “complicated”. “You want people to be able to work, but they need to be allowed to go to school,” he said. “And you need it to be something that doesn’t affect their health. So you need someone to follow up [on factory conditions].” Although underage labour was not as overt as it used to be, it remained a widespread problem, Welsh said. “It’s certainly unfair to say it is rife in the sense of extreme child labour, but it’s certainly a huge problem with 15- to 18-year-olds working in violation of the Labour Law,” he said. “You would be hard-pressed finding ILO inspections where it has been completely eradicated.” Representatives of New Star and Wing Star could not be reached. Veng Heang, director of the Ministry of Labour’s child labour department, referred questions to another official who could not be reached. Additional reporting by Danson Cheong

5/31/2013 1:56 PM


Woman bails on trial | National | National

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WOMAN BAILS ON TRIAL Last Updated on 29 May 2013 By Sen David

A woman accused of stealing a purse attempted to escapefrom Preah Sihanouk provincial courthouse by jumping out a window during the middle of her trial yesterday. Pon Pha, a clerk at the court, said that Heng Leap, 21, asked that court investigators pause her questioning so she could use the restroom and then jumped out of a first-storey window – not the first instance of a suspect using nature’s call as an excuse to escape. Leap’s getaway attempt was less successful than some others’, however. She landed badly, seriously injuring her hip, and was immediately arrested again and sent to hospital, Pha said. “Police are guarding her in the hospital,” he said. Leap is accused of stealing another woman’s purse containing $50, 400,000 riel ($100) and an ATM card on Monday. Police arrested her after she attempted to withdraw money with the ATM card.

5/31/2013 1:59 PM


Children Less Visible in Sex Industry, Yet Abuse Persists | The Cambodi...

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5/31/2013 10:49 AM


Children Less Visible in Sex Industry, Yet Abuse Persists | The Cambodi...

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5/31/2013 10:49 AM


PM calls for disability reforms | National | National

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PM CALLS FOR DISABILITY REFORMS Last Updated on 30 May 2013 By Vong Sokheng and Justine Drennan

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called on Cambodian television stations to create programming for the deaf so that they could follow the latest news. Speaking to about 800 disabled persons, government officials and civil society representatives at Phnom Penh’s Peace Palace yesterday, Hun Sen committed the government to implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities and related reforms. “We have developed Braille and sign language and included those in the education curriculums, IT and media so that the blind and visually impaired and the deaf can keep themselves updated with latest news,” he said. “Despite the great achievements in terms of the welfare of persons with disabilities, there remain obstacles for them that must be addressed,” he said, appealing for more media outlets to join in the cause. Ngin Saorath, executive director of Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation, said Hun Sen had also called for TV stations to employ sign language for the deaf last year, but so far only two stations – TVK and Bayon – had complied. “The media have to employ the interpreter for sign language to make sure that the deaf persons have the right to information based on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, articles 21 and 29,” he said.

5/31/2013 1:54 PM


Jarai villagers ask UN for help in land fight | National | National

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JARAI VILLAGERS ASK UN FOR HELP IN LAND FIGHT Last Updated on 31 May 2013 By Phak Seangly

More than 300 ethnic Jarai families from Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadav district in longstanding land disputes with two Vietnamese land concessionaires submitted a petition to UN human rights officers yesterday asking for help. The group, from Paknhai commune’s Lom village, have in the past directly confronted workers from firms Company 72 and Day Dong Yoeung, and appealed to local authorities to save what they claim is ancestral community land. Village representative Romas Chvat said locals were participating in an NGO-led workshop on protest laws in Stung Treng province yesterday when they presented UN human rights officers with the petition. “We have no land, no forest and no streams because of Vietnamese firms,” the petition said, adding that protesting villagers were threatened with arrest. Chvat claims to have seen a company map last month that showed plans to clear virtually all 25,000 hectares in the area. However, Lom village chief Sev Hlin disputed the allegations, saying Company 72 was granted only 900 hectares. Although authorities are urging villagers to get their land measured by student volunteers, they do not want private land, Chvat said. “What we want is community land,” he said. A UN human rights officer who declined to give his name confirmed the petition had been received and would be sent to the UN office in Phnom Penh.

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5/31/2013 1:05 PM


Mine safety law on agenda | National | National

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MINE SAFETY LAW ON AGENDA Last Updated on 31 May 2013 By Sen David

Ry Kuok carries a bag of rocks from a gold mine in Mondulkiri province. The government plans to draft a new safety law designed to protect workers after a gold miner went missing when a shaft collapsed in Preah Vihear province last week. Photo by AFP The government plans to draft a law designed to govern safety standards in the Kingdom’s mining industry, an official said yesterday, little more than a week after at least one gold miner went missing when a shaft collapsed in Preah Vihear province. Khieu Muth, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Environment, said mining was a thriving sector in Cambodia, but it lacked regulations that protected workers and held companies accountable for dangerous conditions. “We have many laws in other sectors, but haven’t even completed an environmental impact assessment in the mining sector,” he said. “When we have problems in the mining sector, we do not have laws to arrest or fine those responsible. We must ensure safety by implementing standards.” The ministry plans to complete an environment impact assessment of the mining, oil and gas sectors with the help of experts from NGOs before drafting a law, Muth added. Rescue teams called off a search for missing workers at a mine shaft in Prey Vihear’s Rovieng district last Thursday after it collapsed three days earlier. Only one miner, 18-year-old Thy Nath, was officially listed as missing, but it was believed two or three more may

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5/31/2013 1:02 PM


Mine safety law on agenda | National | National

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have been unaccounted for. Chhay Sarath, Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency executive director, said that on behalf of NGOs monitoring the mining sector, he welcomed plans for a draft law. “We support any law that ensures companies protect the safety of their workers and not just focus on profit,” he said. Nuth Chanty, a miner in Preah Vihear province, said he, too, welcomed better safety standards due to the dangers faced underground. “I’m a miner, but I never received any technical training at school or anything like that. I just learned it all by doing what my manager ordered me to,” he said. “If we do anything wrong underground, it’s unsafe. But it’s my job – I have to do it to support my family.”

5/31/2013 1:02 PM

2013 5 25 31 cam daily pp post  

the weekly news archived of the week May 25-31, 2013 from The Cambodia Daily and The Phnom Penh Post newspaper

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