Sunday, 19 September 2010

Justice Goes Beyond Indictment of Khmer Rouge Leaders

via CAAI

By Irwin Loy

PHNOM PENH, Sep 18, 2010 (IPS) - A war crimes tribunal in Cambodia may have reached a major milestone this week by indicting four former leaders of the genocidal Khmer Rouge. But much more needs to be done to ensure that the long-awaited trial is meaningful to the regime’s victims, analysts say.

On Sep. 16, the tribunal announced the indictment of four Khmer Rouge leaders: Nuon Chea, the party’s chief ideologue; Ieng Sary, the foreign minister; Ieng Thirith, the social affairs minister; and Khieu Samphan, the party’s head of state.

They face charges including crimes against humanity, murder and genocide and are accused of being among the architects of a regime that caused the deaths of up to 2.2 million people during the Khmer Rouge rule from 1975 to 1979.

More than three decades after the regime collapsed, the four ageing suspects are also the only senior Khmer Rouge leaders to be charged by the United Nations-backed tribunal.

"I think the case is going to be the most important trial in Cambodian history. It could allow Cambodians to turn to the next page and move on," said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, whose researchers have compiled a vault of evidence archiving the regime’s abuses.

Officials with the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the tribunal’s official name, say they hope a trial will begin during the first half of 2011.

However, some observers say the court will not truly be effective unless it can properly address the crucial issue of how reparations will be given to victims of the regime.

In July, the court convicted former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Khek Eav. Duch, as he is better known, was convicted of overseeing the murders of an estimated 14,000 people judged to have been enemies of the regime. But advocates for victims and their surviving families said the court did not go far enough to address the hugely symbolic issue of reparations.

Part of the court’s mandate is to give a voice to victims. And so it allowed qualified victims and their families to participate directly in the proceedings as civil parties – and at levels that were unprecedented in international justice.

The tribunal is also able to award "collective and moral reparations" to approved victims. Demands from civil parties in the Duch case included free medical care, the creation of staffed education facilities and a curriculum about human rights abuses and genocide, as well as a trust fund that could provide vocational training and small-business loans.

But in the end, the court consented only to having the names of approved civil parties and victims listed in the final written judgment and for transcripts of Duch’s apologies and admissions of responsibility to be posted to the court website. This latter gesture was derided by some as being severely inadequate in a country where few rural residents have access to the Internet.

"It’s not meaningful to victims," said Sok Leang, the interim director and victims outreach manager for the NGO Centre for Justice and Reconciliation. "The names of the victims will be listed in the final verdict and then they will be digitised and posted on websites so everyone can see. This is just ridiculous in light of the technologies that victims living in remote areas have access to."

But in their decision, trial chamber judges noted that they were "constrained" by the rules of the court. It was not within the tribunal’s scope, they said, to award reparations the court had no jurisdiction to enforce – thus ruling out civil party demands to create school curriculums or national memorials.

And while the court’s legal framework stipulated that the accused was to be solely responsible for reparations, there were no measures allowing the ECCC to enforce its rulings if Duch was unwilling or unable to comply. The court was also unable to draw funding for reparations from third parties like donor countries or government.

Sok said the first case was a "test" – one that he said produced very mixed results. "I think it was a lesson for the victims as well as a lesson for the panel of judges," he said of some of the harsh reactions to the decision on reparations.

In the second case involving the four senior Khmer Rouge leaders, then, the tribunal must find more creative and symbolic solutions to the issue of reparations, should the accused be found guilty, Sok said.

"People have to have something to take away and be proud of this court; to be proud of the trial," he said. "If the reparations after this second case are similar to the first case, then most victims will not be satisfied. If the reparations are still the same, I think it will not be successful."

But the tribunal has taken measures that could see the matter handled differently in the second case. A day after the indictments were publicised, the court announced it had approved new rules that will expand its options for reparation during the second case.

The court will now be allowed to award reparations that may be funded by donor contributions. This would mean that potential reparations that would have been excluded under the old rules because the accused lacked the money to pay for them, could now be covered by donors. The rule changes do not affect the reparations rulings for the Duch trial.

"I think we are learning throughout the process what is working and what is not working," said Lars Olsen, a court spokesman. "Remember, this is the first time in international criminal justice that we have victim participation on this scale."

But while reparations have a highly symbolic meaning for victims, Olsen said the focus must remain on the trial’s criminal proceedings. "By the end of the day I believe the most important factor for any victim is to see that justice is being served," he said. "This can mainly be done through criminal proceedings, holding perpetrators responsible for crimes."

Ties with Laos, Cambodia will expand: President

via CAAI

Parvathi Menon

President Pratibha Patil greets Cambodian officers at Phnom Pehn on Saturday before leaving for India. Photo: PTI/Aman Sharma

President Pratibha Patil on Saturday said that the engagement between India, Camodia and Laos is set to substantially expand, and will be taken forward bilaterally and through the platform of ASEAN.

Ms. Patil was speaking on her return to India after a 10-day visit to both countries, on which she was accompanied by a 45-member business delegation with representatives from the CII, ASSOCHAM and FICCI.

In addition to agreements in the economic sphere, the highlights of the President's visit to these countries were her stops at famous historical sites. She spent two days each at Luang Prabang in the Laos PDR and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, both sites where the Indian imprint is evident in history, art and architecture, and in the Angkor Park region, in the heritage conservation efforts that India has made.

In Laos, a Cultural Exchange Agreement for 2011-13 was signed during Ms. Patil's visit, as also an agreement for a new Government of India credit line of $72.55 million to finance two power projects.

The National Assembly of Laos has already approved the India-ASEAN Agreement on Trade in Goods.

In Cambodia, the President signed two agreements, the first between the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India and the National Audit Authority of Cambodia, and the second for a $15-million credit line between EXIM Bank and the Cambodian government for Phase II of the Stung Tassal Water Development Project.

Ms. Patil met the staff and students of the Cambodia India Friendship School and announced a financial grant of $246,000 to upgrade it.

King Norodom Sihamoni accepted the President's invitation to visit India.

Cambodia is currently the country coordinator for India on ASEAN and will hold the ASEAN chair in 2012, when India will host the Commemorative India-ASEAN summit in Delhi.

Ms. Patil was accompanied by Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Kantilal Bhuria, and Members of Parliament Mohan Singh, Peethambara Kurup, and Andanrao Adsul.

World’s least known apes, the crested gibbons of South East Asia, face imminent extinction

via CAAI


Press release from: Fauna & Flora International

A Female Hainan gibbon with her offspring. Credit o Bill Bleisch, FFI

(openPR) - A gathering of the world’s gibbon experts, led by Fauna & Flora International (FFI), has declared a call to action to save the crested gibbons of South East Asia during the XXIII Congress of the International Primatological Society.

“The crested gibbons are the most threatened group of primates and all species require urgent attention to save them from extinction”, said Thomas Geissmann, the world-renowned gibbon expert from Zurich University and FFI gibbon advisor.

All seven species of crested gibbons are highly threatened and some are among the world’s most endangered mammals. They are found east of the Mekong River in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam and China. Several species have declined drastically over the past decade due to hunting and habitat loss caused mainly by rapid economic development.

The plight of crested gibbons is exemplified by the world’s rarest ape, the Hainan gibbon. There are about 20 individuals remaining in two family groups on China’s Hainan Island. The Hainan gibbon’s closest relative is the cao vit gibbon, which survives in a patch of forest on the Vietnam – China border and numbers not much more than 100 individuals.

“Current efforts by FFI appear to be turning round the fortune of the cao vit gibbon at the eleventh hour,“ said Paul Insua-Cao, FFI China-Indochina Primate Programme Manager.

“FFI has been championing conservation of several of the world’s rarest gibbon species for more than a decade. The organization is working with local communities and government authorities across the range states of these gibbons to protect them and their habitat”.

In the past FFI’s surveys have discovered several previously unknown populations of gibbons across the region, which have led to work to securing those populations for the future.

Gibbon conservation attracts much less funding than that of the great apes such as gorillas and orang-utans. Hence, it is vital that projects are focused on those places with utmost importance for the survival of the species. The efforts of FFI and other like-minded organizations will need continuous investment and support for the foreseeable future to ensure the gibbons’ survival.

For further information and high resolution photos, please contact:

Rebecca Foges,
Communications Officer
Fauna & Flora International,
Station Road,
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 579 491

Helen Pitman
Communications Manager
Mob: +44(0)7990555079

About Fauna & Flora International (FFI)
FFI protects threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are sustainable, based on sound science and take account of human needs. Operating in more than 40 countries worldwide – mainly in the developing world – FFI saves species from extinction and habitats from destruction, while improving the livelihoods of local people. Founded in 1903, FFI is the world’s longest established international conservation body and now a registered charity in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia.

Fauna & Flora International
Jupiter House
Station Rd

Garment workers clash with police

via CAAI

Sep 18, 2010

Cambodian workers stand and listen to a speech during a strike outside a garment factory in Phnom Penh. -- PHOTO: AFP

PHNOM PENH - FIVE Cambodian garment workers were injured in a clash with police on Saturday, unions said, as tension between staff and bosses continued despite the end of mass strikes.

Violence erupted when police tried to break up a rally of about 3,000 factory employees who had gathered to protest a ban on 26 activists from returning to work after last week's huge stoppage, Ath Thun told AFP.

'The military police sent to crack down on the strike injured five strikers and the clash lasted for half an hour,' the president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation said.

The incident in Kandal province, south of Phnom Penh, follows a decision to call off a large-scale strike across the country's key garment industry after the government stepped in and arranged talks with manufacturers.

Unions said the four-day stoppage that ended on Thursday attracted up to 210,000 people demanding better pay, although the Garment Manufacturers' Association in Cambodia (GMAC) had a more modest estimate of 30,000.

The mass strike from Monday to Thursday followed a deal between the government and industry that set the minimum wage for garment and footwear staff at S$61 (S$81.50) a month. Unions say the salary is not enough to cover food, housing and travel expenses, and want a base salary of US$93. -- AFP

Huge scope for increasing India-Cambodia trade: President

via CAAI

by Vikas Mohapatra
September 18th 2010
filled under Small and Medium Enterprise (SME)

Indian SMEs can now look forward to greater business opportunities in Cambodia with President Pratibha Devisingh Patil paving the way for cooperation with the latter country to boost economic ties. Speaking at the India-Cambodia Meeting in Phnom Penh recently, the President said that there is huge scope for increasing bilateral trade and investments between the two countries and called for business units in both countries to cash in on the lucrative trade environment.

Significantly, the event, which was attended by Indian industry bodies such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), sought to explore business potential in the two countries.

Two-way trade between India and Cambodia stands approximately at around US$50 million. Incidentally, one of India’s major exports to Cambodia comes from the pharma sector which has significant SME population. In the wake of the recent development, Indian pharma-based SMEs can seek to invest in Cambodia further.

Incidentally, the President identified agriculture and IT/ITeS as sectors that small businesses in both countries can look to explore to enhance bilateral cooperation.

The fact that the President has also urged for more initiatives to increase the bilateral trade basket should encourage Indian SMEs from other sectors to scout for business investment in Cambodia.

Patil back from Laos, Cambodia aimed to boost Look East Policy

via CAAI

Rakesh Mohan Chaturvedi

On Board Special Aircraft, Sep 18 (PTI) President Pratibha Patil today completed her two-nation state visit to Laos and Cambodia in a bid to deepen economic and cultural ties with the two key ASEAN countries as part of an effort to boost India''s Look East Policy.

During the President''s successful ten-day visit, lines of credit were extended to Laos and Cambodia and important business pacts inked.

Talking to reporters on board the special aircraft, Patil underlined that the visit aimed at reinforcing the deep historical and cultural ties along with efforts to build a dynamic economic and developmental relationship with the two nations.

"My visit to these countries was undertaken to reinforce the deep historical and cultural ties which India has with these countries dating back to more than 2000 years, and to build a dynamic economic and developmental partnership on these foundations,� she said.

During her visit to Laos, which began on September 9, India extended a line of credit worth USD 72.55 million to finance two power projects in the country.

A Cultural Exchange Agreement for the years 2011-13 was also signed between the two nations.

Patil said Laos underlined its deep appreciation for India''s continued assistance and support for its developmental efforts through loans and assistance in the field of human resource development, hydropower and irrigation schemes in particular.

"I was informed that the National Assembly of Laos has already approved the India-ASEAN Agreement on Trade in Goods and only some administrative formalities remain prior to its notification," she said.

Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, has also indicated that it looked forward to investments from the Indian private sector.

The Aditya Birla Group and Kirloskar already have a big presence in Laos while the Tata group is exploring possibilities of investment in the mining sector.

A 45-member business delegation, comprising of members of CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM, travelled with the President, and signed MoU with the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Laos.

Patil and President Choummaly Sayasone also participated in a virtual inauguration of the 115 KV Paksong-Jiangxi-Bangyo transmission line project in Champasak province of Laos, where the government of India has provided a line of credit for USD 18 million.

The Indian President and her husband Devisingh Shekhawat were accorded a warm welcome at Phnom Penh when they arrived on September 13 in Cambodia for the second leg of the 10-day tour.

India, Laos, Cambodia unanimous in their fight against terror, drug trafficking: Patil

via CAAI

On board Air India One, Sep.18 : President Pratibha Patil said on Saturday that India, Laos, and Cambodia are unanimous in their perception that there is need to combat terrorism, organized crime, and drug trafficking in South East Asia.

During interaction with reporters on board Air India, when President Patil was asked about her discussions with leadership of the two countries over terrorism and extremism, she said: “We already have the agreement with these countries and there is unanimity in the feeling that we must combat terrorism, the organized crime and trafficking of drugs. The mutual cooperation is there.”

Responding to another question earlier, the President said: “We don’t compare us with others. We want to maintain our relations with all countries and want to increase engagements with other countries. So, our policies are like that both the countries can form relations with each other, mutual trust can increase, friendship will increase, cooperation in economic field will increase and diplomatic relation will increase. That is why what we saw in these countries is, they received it very well, so we want this with all nations that this mutual ties should increase.”

President Patil visited Laos and Cambodia at the invitation of President Choummaly Sayasone of Laos and Norodom Sihamoni, the King of Cambodia.

Her visit to these countries was undertaken to reinforce the deep historical and cultural ties which India has with these countries dating back to more than 2000 years, and to build a dynamic economic and developmental partnership on these foundations.

The last visit of an Indian President to Laos and Cambodia was that of first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad in March, 1959. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

Oil, gas, mineral, exploration potential with Cambodia huge: Patil

 via CAAI


President Pratibha Patil said on Saturday that Cambodia views oil and natural gas, mineral extraction, agriculture and tourism as areas for bilateral cooperation with India in future.

Speaking to reporters on board Air India One, President Patil said: "In Cambodia, I held talks with King Norodam Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Presidents of the Senate and the National Assembly. The Cambodian leaders warmly recalled India's invaluable support for Cambodia during its most difficult times. They appreciated our developmental assistance and discussed new areas of cooperation."

Patil said that the Prime Minister Hun Sen mentioned oil and gas, mineral extraction, agriculture and tourism as future areas for bilateral cooperation. "I invited His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni to visit India, which he accepted. The dates will be worked out through diplomatic channels."

She also informed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation between our Comptroller and Auditor General and the National Audit Authority of Cambodia was signed. A 15 million dollars Credit Line Agreement between EXIM Bank and the Cambodian Government was signed for Phase II of the Stung Tassal Water Development Project.

"I announced a financial grant of 246,000 dollars for upgradation of the Cambodia-India Friendship School. I attended the India- Cambodia Business meeting in Phnom Penh. I also performed the ground breaking and foundation stone laying ceremony of the Asian Traditional Textiles Museum being set up under the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Programme, " Patil said.

She said on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Cambodia has played a vital role as the host and ASEAN Chair in 2002 for the first ASEAN-India Summit. "Cambodia is currently the Coordinator for India-ASEAN interaction and will again hold the ASEAN Chair in 2012 when we will host the Commemorative India-ASEAN summit in India," Patil stated.

"The grandeur and scale of the historical monuments I had visited," Patil said, "has been particularly impressive in both Siem Reap and Luang Prabang. In my meetings with the governors of these provinces, they both mentioned the old links with India. Our shared cultural heritage is very much in evidence in the architecture, the language, the religion, the art and culture and the social customs of our countries."

She added that the Baci ceremony in Laos in which threads are tied, is very reminiscent of our Raksha Bandhan festival. "We are proud of India's contribution to the restoration works in Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm in Cambodia and Wat Phu in Laos," Patil said.

The President was accompanied by Kantilal Bhuria Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and by Members of Parliament Mohan Singh, N. Peethambara Kurup and Anandrao Adsul.

"They actively participated in the various events during the visit. They, like me, were deeply impressed with the commonality of culture and the ancient linkages with Laos and Cambodia, and the commitment of the leaders of the two countries to forge stronger bonds of friendship with India. I believe that greater economic engagement and people-to-people contacts, particularly among the youth and students will be the catalysts for this," said Patil.

A business delegation comprising representatives from Indian companies and the three major business associations-CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM, also accompanied President Patil during her tour.

Patil told reporters that: "As we look at our objective of greater economic engagement with these countries, it will be our companies and business organizations who will explore possibilities, and increase trade and investment levels."

Patil said that she was touched by the exceptional affection and personal warmth extended to her in both Laos and Cambodia from the leadership and the people. "I am convinced that my visit to Laos and Cambodia has served to reinforce our traditional ties and will also help us to forge new links for the future," Patil stated. resident Patil visited Laos and Cambodia at the invitation of President Choummaly Sayasone of Laos and Norodom Sihamoni, the King of Cambodia.

Her visit to these countries was undertaken to reinforce the deep historical and cultural ties which India has with these countries dating back to more than 2000 years, and to build a dynamic economic and developmental partnership on these foundations.

The last visit of an Indian President to Laos and Cambodia was that of first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad in March, 1959. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

A Technology Boom in Cambodia?

via CAAI

Author: Andrew Froehlich

Published: September 18, 2010

I had the opportunity to visit several cities within Cambodia last week. Being a network engineer and interested in technology advancements in emerging countries, I decided to spend some time investigating the current economic and technological environment. I came away fairly optimistic that Cambodia might be the next Asian country to experience a technology boom.

As far as current technology in Cambodia, it's a bit of a mixed bag. The country as whole is still very poor compared to many other SE Asian countries including Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. In fact, the only other country that has a lower per capita GDP is Myanmar (Burma).

In one market, I saw a shop that was gutting and repairing 10 year old tube televisions. This is a trade that I have not seen for at least 15 years. Also, there seem to be frequent power outages throughout the region. The outages did not last long but could prove to be disruptive for prospective businesses looking to invest in the area.

That being said, when I further explored Phnom Penh, the capitol city of Cambodia, I was surprised with the amount singage that promoted Internet technologies. It would seem that in the capitol and other large cities that I visited, high-speed Internet was readily available at many hotels, coffee shops and even gas stations.
In addition, the cellular network within Cambodia is well developed, at least in the locations I visited. A company called Cellcard has built-out a 3G network in Cambodia's "key cities". When outside these cities, 2G Edge service blankets the country in most cases. In this regard, Cambodia is ahead of providing 3G services compared to neighboring Thailand who have been stuck in a political battle for years regarding the licensing of 3G frequencies.

Economically, while the vast majority of Cambodians are very poor, there has been recent investments from neighboring countries including China to develop factories for the manufacturing of electronics. I saw this first hand when looking at a iPhone 4G look-alike for sale at one of the local markets.

The phone's manual was written in Cambodian as opposed to Chinese or Laos. This typically means that the device was designed and made in Cambodia. It was a fairly sophisticated piece of technology so expect to see more and more electronics stamped with "Made in Cambodia" in the coming years.

Another key economic factor that may be in Cambodia's favor is the fact they they rely heavily on the US dollar. While the country has their own currency, the Reil, it very much is tied to the dollar and is actually the preferred currency all over the country. Because the dollar is weak compared to other Asian currencies, investments in Cambodia are becoming highly attractive.

Cambodia still has a long way to go to become a technological powerhouse. The good news is that they have many things going for them both technologically and economically. But don't just take my word for it. Cisco Systems also sees Cambodia as a growth market for technology. Just last month Cisco announced that they will be starting the Cisco Network Academy Program at a Technical University. Clearly, Cisco sees the future need for highly skilled network engineers in the very near future.