Thursday, June 16, 2011

Second Global Assembly of the Open Forum for Civil Society Organizations Development Effectiveness

Second Global Assembly of the Open Forum for Civil Society Organizations Development Effectiveness
 Siem Reap, Cambodia, June 28-30th 2011

The passage of the draft law on associations & non governmental organizations (NGOs) would severely impair the effectiveness of civil society and development organizations working in Cambodia. In particular, it would directly undermine at least two of the eight guiding Principles of CSO Development Effectiveness, which advocate, among other things focusing on people’s empowerment, democratic ownership and participation and pursuing equitable partnerships and solidarity.

The most recent draft of the law, released on March 24, 2011, is a clear attempt by the Cambodian government to control civil society and stifle dissent. The government claimed to have taken into account a number of concerns raised by civil society after the release of the first draft of the law in December 2010. However, the most significant concerns were not addressed and any changes were mostly cosmetic. The government has also repeatedly said that passing the law is a top priority. Following national and international outcries, the law is still in draft form, but it is widely expected that the government will try and pass the law before the end of 2011.

The law enforces mandatory registration of associations and NGOs, which is a flagrant violation of freedom of association and other fundamental rights. It also imposes burdensome registration requirements, which would severely restrict the operation of rural grassroots groups, informal networks and associations operating with limited resources. It gives authorities unbounded discretion to approve registration applications, with few guidelines to transparently steer these decisions. There is no appeals process if registration is denied. Many of the provisions in the law are directly contrary to its own Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Cambodia has ratified.

In summary, the law would give the government total control over civil society: arbitrary decision in the registration process would make it easy for the government to prevent certain groups from operating. For international civil society partners, supporting people’s empowerment and democratic ownership in Cambodia should be of primary concern. The law threatens to lead to the dissolution of a number of critical groups unable to meet the registration requirements. These groups, familiar with the Cambodian context, are an important source of information on human rights and development in the country. Without them, international civil society organizations and development partners would likely be operating blindly. This will seriously undermine the effectiveness of their investments.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rights envoy urges reforms

Surya Subedi was appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia in 2009 and carried out his fifth fact-finding mission to the Kingdom last week. He spoke to The Post on Friday.

You mentioned in a statement  today that certain pieces of legislation in Cambodia had narrowed the scope of peoples’ rights. Which pieces of legislation are you referring to?
One example is the ... provision of the penal code on defamation, disinformation and incitement. The powers given to the executive are rather broad. While I welcome the legislation – it’s better to have a penal code than not to have one – it’s a progressive document in so many areas, but not progressive enough in a number of areas. They include mainly the provisions relating to freedom of speech. My position has been all along to decriminalise defamation and disinformation, and the penal code doesn’t do that.

Do you feel that broad powers for the executive are a common problem in Cambodian legislation?
I would not go as far as to generalise it, but generally speaking … parliament’s ability to restrain the executive has been limited. [Parliament] should be the defender and the guarantor of peoples’ human rights. To do so, parliament has to be more assertive, more independent and hold the executive to account.

A former UN World Food Programme employee, Seng Kunnaka, was convicted of incitement last year after sharing printed articles from an antigovernment website with co-workers. Do you believe that he was wrongfully charged?
I don’t want to go into the merit of the case at this stage, but I have concerns about the procedure involved. He was arrested on a Friday and he was convicted by Sunday afternoon – so within a matter of two days [the case went] from arrest to conviction – to me, casting serious doubt about the requirements of a fair trial. A trial of that nature, conducted and completed within two days, gave me cause for concern.

Villagers from Boeung Kak lake said in a letter to you this week that the international community had not done enough to hold the government to account for forced evictions and alleged rights abuses. Have donor countries and the UN done enough to press the Cambodian government for reform?
The international community could certainly do more, but the UN Human Rights Council has already included in its [2009] resolution the need for national guidelines on evictions. These guidelines should include the procedure, the notification, compensation and the relocation.

The [2001 Land] Law itself is a good law, but the proper implementation of that law is a problem in this country – not implementing the law, not waiting for enough information, not waiting for the [parties] to go to courts to settle their disputes and using sometimes disproportionate force to evict people from their sites.

When there is a land dispute between two private individuals or between a private individual and a company, that matter should be resolved through the courts … or some other agencies established by law. The executive should not intervene in a dispute between two private individuals.

At a press conference this week, representatives from rights group Adhoc suggested that local authorities and the judiciary were biased toward rich and powerful people, particularly in land dispute cases. Is this an accurate assessment?
A very ambitious land-titling program is underway in this country [supported by German development agency GTZ and other agencies]. About 1,000 land titles are issued ... every week. If that process is allowed to take its course then many of the disputes will be resolved.

The problem here is the rich and powerful requesting the government or law enforcement agencies to intervene on their behalf and the law enforcement agencies are not waiting for the disputes to be settled through courts or other agencies established through the law.

Would you ever recommend that the UN or one of its agencies withdraw funding from Cambodia?
No, not necessarily. I would not go that far because this country needs international assistance: both financial assistance and technical assistance.

Have any of your recommendations as Special Rapporteur been implemented?
I made my position very clear from the very beginning that there should be national guidelines on land management issues. That guideline is being developed by the Minsitry of Land Management [Urban Planning and Construction] working together with other partners.

I asked the government to consult the concerned parties or associations when drafting the NGO law. Two rounds of consultations have taken place. The challenge is to make sure that the recommendations or proposals made by the NGOs are incorporated into the final version as much as possible.

One of my recommendations was to increase the budget available to the judiciary. The judiciary remains under funded in this country and I was given to understand that funding was increased for the judiciary, both in 2009 and 2010. [It was] not enough, but [there is] … clear progress.

Do you agree with NGO representatives who feel that there is no need for an NGO law in Cambodia?
My position is that there are enough laws already which govern the activities of NGOs, but Cambodia is a sovereign country and the National Assembly is a sovereign assembly. They have the right to legislate in the areas where they feel new laws are needed.

The challenge is that the new law should be a law which will enable NGOs to deliver their services better to the people of Cambodia, rather than restrict their activities.

You have said that laws must be made by a sovereign parliament, but in accordance with international obligations. What is the balance between the two?
As an international lawyer, I would say that there is no absolute sovereignty in existence anymore, anywhere. The sovereignty we are talking about is a limited sovereignty. There are international values imposed on states by international treaties. Once you join the [UN], you are bound by the values of the organisation, so that itself is limiting the freedom of action of states. No [UN member] state these days can have a dictatorial system of government which ignores the charter of the UN. 

Original source, please go to website of phnompenh post:

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Professor Surya P. Subedi

While the general situation of human rights has progressed in certain areas, it has not improved much in others. Examples of the latter are land rights and evictions, and freedom of speech. Because of the fear of possible charges of defamation, disinformation and incitement against them, many people such as journalists, human
rights defenders and political activists seem to be resorting to self-censorship. I am concerned by the use of such charges against land activists and individuals making claims on disputed land. I am dismayed to hear about disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials during peaceful protests by individuals involved in land
disputes. For instance, the violence against the demonstrations by the residents of the Beoung Kok Lake area in April 2011 was regrettable. I am, however, encouraged by the recent dialogue between the remaining communities of Beoung Kok Lake and the municipality of Phnom Penh and look forward to a mutually agreeable settlement.

For detail information pleas link here for Khmer language:

and for English here:

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Victim of Land Conflict is doing a Press Conference at ADHOC office

Please be informed that this morning 57 victims were accused on criminal charge by powerful and the rich persons is doing press conference at ADHOC's office. This press conference is to address the government leadership to take action against some judges or prosecutors who always favor the power and rich persons without deeply consideration of the situation. Some powerful or rich persons use the judicial system to intimidate or oppress against the poor who protect the natural resource or their land and farming. Please help or support the poor who need us to support them by spirit or material.

Press Conference
ស្តីពីការចោទប្រកាន់ ការចាប់ខ្លួនអ្នកក្រីក្រក្នុងរឿងទំនាស់ដីធ្លី
On Charging, arresting against the poor in the conflict cases
June 2, 2011
២ មិថុនា ២០១១
សេចក្តីផ្តើម Introducation
ដោយពិនិត្យឃើញជារួមនៅក្នុងរបាយការណ៏ស៊ើបអង្កេតក្នុងរយៈពេល៥ខែដើមឆ្នាំកន្លងមក សមាគម​អាដ​​ហុក បានរកឃើញថា នៅក្នុងទំនាស់ដីធ្លី ​ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋក្រីក្រដែលចេញមុខ​ធ្វើការទាមទារ តវ៉ា ដើម្បី​ការពារ​ដីស្រែចំការ ផ្ទះសំបែង ទទួលរងនូវ ត្រូវបានទទួលរង​នូវការ​ចោទ​ប្រកាន់​ពីបទ​ព្រហ្ម​ទណ្ឌ។ នៅឆ្នាំ២០១១នេះ មាន​ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋសរុប​១១៨​នាក់ដែលផ្តើមចេញ​ពី​ទំនាស់​ដីធ្លីជាមួយ​អ្នក​មានអំណាច ឬក្រុមហ៊ុនកជន ដោយគ្រាន់តែអ្នកភូមិធ្វើការ ទាមទារ តវ៉ា កន្លងមក។ ក្នុងចំណោម ១១៨នាក់ មាន៣៤នាក់ត្រូវបានចាប់ខ្លួន និងមាន១៦នាក់កំពុង​តែ​ឃុំខ្លួន​ក្នុងពន្ធនាគារនៅឡើយ ចំណែក៨៤នាក់ កំពុងតែរត់គេចខ្លួនពីការតាមចាប់ខ្លួន។
After collecting and reviewing the investigating report within 5 months (January-May 2011), ADHOC found that the poor people who prevent their farm and house from land grabbing were charged criminal case against them. In 2011, 118 people were accused by powerful persons or private comapny. Among of them, 34 people were arrested (16 people in prison) and 84 people are escaping from arrest.

គោលបំណងៈ Purpose
ដើម្បីបង្ហាញដល់រដ្ឋាភិបាលឲ្យឃើញថា ជនរងគ្រោះក្រីក្រក្នុងរឿងទំនាស់ដីធ្លីកំពុងតែមានគំលាត​ឆ្ងាយ​ពីយុត្តិធម៌ មានការភ័យរអានឹងប្រព័ន្ធយុត្តិធម៌នៅកម្ពុជានិង អំពាវនាវដល់រដ្ឋាភិបាល ពិសេស​ស្ថាប័ន​តុលាការ ធ្វើការកំណទំរង់បញ្ឈប់ការចោទប្រកាន់ និងចាប់ខ្លួនដោយអយុត្តិធម៌ក្នុងរឿងដីធ្លី​ជាមួយ​ភាគីអ្នកមានអំណាច ឬក្រុមហ៊ុនកជន។​
In order to address the government that the victims of land conflict are far from the fair or justice. The victims are threathened by Cambodian Juricial System; they appeal to goverment especially judicial institution shall be reformed. The court shall stop to charge or arrest victim of land conflict with powerful people or private company by unfairly.

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