Saturday, June 14, 2008

Jailed Cambodian publisher appeals for release on bail

By Puy Kea
The jailed publisher of a Cambodian opposition newspaper has appealed for release on bail, saying his detention is not according to law, a journalists' group said Friday. Club of Cambodian Journalists said a five-member delegation made a visit Friday to Dam Sith in Prey Sar Prison, where he has been detained since Sunday after being charged with ''disinformation, defamation and insult'' by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong. ''Through the Club of Cambodian Journalists, Mr. Dam Sith has appealed to Phnom Penh Municipal Court to expedite legal procedures so he can be released soon,'' the Club said in a statement.
In a separate statement released just hours after Dam Sith's arrest Sunday, the CCJ said that according to the press law a lawsuit shall not be filed against a newspaper whenever the newspaper quotes ''politicians, lawmakers or senators.'' Dam Sith, 39, is the publisher of Moneaksekar Khmer and was charged for running an article quoting Sam Rainsy, leader of his self-named opposition party, that allegedly accused Hor Namhong of having been a Khmer Rouge official. Hor Namhong has denied any involvement with the regime during his time as a prisoner at the Boeung Trabek camp in Phnom Penh .
He has successfully sued people in the past after they accused him of Khmer Rouge links. Dam Sith, is also standing as an opposition candidate in next month's parliamentary election. In the wake of his arrest, local and international human rights advocacy groups, in addition to media groups, have expressed concern over the press freedom ahead of Cambodia 's general election set for July 27 and called for his release.
They said the arrest betrays the Cambodian judiciary's ''continued disregard for the civil provisions of the 1995 Press Law.'' The Southeast Asian Press Alliance, a coalition of press advocacy groups from the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, joined the Cambodian groups in calling for Dam Sith's release and urged the government to allow free expression and press freedom.
KyodoJune 13, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WFP extends breakfast program for poor Cambodian students

The U.N. food agency said Tuesday that a popular breakfast program for poor Cambodian children which was suspended last month due to a budget shortfall has resumed.

Thomas Keusters, country director of the World Food Program in Cambodia , told Kyodo News that the WFP headquarters in Rome extended the program by infusing $5.4 million, allowing the program to feed children until July 5, the end of their 2007-2008 school year.

His agency decided to suspend the program on May 1 due to the soaring cost of rice.
Keusters along with many teachers across the country had expressed concern that the suspension would affect some 450,000 schoolchildren across the country.

The program was considered to play an important role in attracting children to school and helping them pay attention in class.

The WFP earlier explained that the program was suspended because of a budget shortfall in the wake of the price of rice shooting up to about $630 per ton in March this year compared to $265 per ton in March last year.

The breakfast consists of 100 grams of rice supplemented by 25 grams of yellow split peas from the United States , 20 grams of canned fish from Japan or Thailand , 10 grams of vegetable oil and 3 grams of salt. The ration, which the WFP launched in 1999, was delivered to 1,344 out of some 6,500 elementary schools across the country.

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the region, with some 35 percent of its 14 million people earning less than $1 a day.
KyodoJune 10, 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

Cambodia on Tier 2 in 2008 human trafficking: U.S. report

By Puy Kea
PHNOM PENH , June 5 KYODO -- The United States released its annual report Thursday on 2008 trafficking in persons and placed Cambodia on the Tier 2 Watch List. The report, released by the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh , said Cambodia had made some improvements and increased engagement in combating the continued, serious problem of trafficking in persons.
The report recommends Cambodia continue implementation of anti-trafficking legislation and improve the number of prosecutions and convictions among others. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said he welcomed the report and hoped Cambodia will not fall back in its classification to Tier 3 or Tier 4, instead, he said Cambodia will catch Tier 1 in the future.
In a separate 2008 TIP Report, released by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington on Wednesday, it said Cambodia is a source and destination country for trafficked persons. ''Women and girls are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to Thailand and Malaysia . Some Cambodian women who migrated to Taiwan as the result of brokered international marriages were subsequently trafficked for prostitution,'' it said.
''Sex trafficking of women and girls, including ethnic Vietnamese, occurs within the country, from rural areas to the urban areas of Phnom Penh , Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville,'' the report added. '' Cambodia is a destination for Vietnamese women and girls trafficked for prostitution. Cambodia is also a destination country for foreign child sex tourists, with increasing reports of Asian men traveling to Cambodia in order to have sex with underage virgin girls,'' it said.
Countries determined to have a significant number of trafficking victims are assigned to one of three tiers. Countries assessed as meeting the ''minimum standards for the elimination of severe forms of trafficking'' are classified as Tier 1.
And countries assessed as not fully complying with the minimum standards, but making significant efforts to meet those minimum standards, are classified as Tier 2, whereas countries assessed as neither complying with the minimum standards nor making significant efforts to do so are classified as Tier 3.
KyodoJune 05, 2008

Khieu Samphan released hospital, returns to court detention


After a two-week stay in hospital, ailing former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan was sent back to U.N.-Cambodia tribunal facilities, a tribunal official told Kyodo News on Thursday. Helen Jarvis, chief of public affairs of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts in Cambodia , said he returned to the ECCC detention center at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
''His health condition allows him to return to the ECCC,'' she quoted doctors as saying. Khieu Maly, his daughter, confirmed her father was taken back to the ECCC on Thursday afternoon while she was together with her mother at the hospital.
On Wednesday, a senior doctor who is in charge of Khieu Samphan's health at Calmette Hospital told Kyodo News that Khieu Samphan's health has improved ''step by step.'' The 76-year-old was hospitalized after suffering high blood pressure on May 21. Khieu Samphan was nominal head of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia in the late 1970s and has been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes by the ECCC.
He is one of the Khmer Rouge's five prime suspects who have been charged and detained at the ECCC. The other four are: Nuon Chea, better known as the Khmer Rouge's Brother No. 2; Kaing Khek Ieu, alias Duch, head of the Tuol Sleng torture center in Phnom Penh ; Ieng Sary, deputy prime minister and foreign minister, and his wife Ieng Thirith, education and social affairs minister. The Khmer Rouge is blamed for the deaths of at least 1.7 million Cambodians during their rule from 1975 to 1979.
KyodoJune 05, 2008