Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cambodia Asks Facebook for User’s Data

Source from Cambodia Daily 

The Cambodian government earlier this year requested that Facebook turn over a user’s data as part of an official investigation, but the U.S.-based social networking giant declined to comply with the request, according to a report.

The Global Government Requests Report, released by Facebook on Tuesday, says Cambodia made one request for a user’s data between January and June.

The report does not state what body or government official made the request or the name of the user whose information was requested.

Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel, said in an online post attached to the report that the social network ensures the privacy of its users and, at times, fights the government requests.

“We scrutinize each request for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the
law, and require a detailed description of the legal and factual bases for each request. We fight many of these requests, pushing back when we find legal deficiencies and narrowing the scope of overly broad or vague requests. When we are required to comply with a particular request, we frequently share only basic user information, such as name,” he said.

Cambodia was one of 74 countries to request user data, and one of seven to make only a single request for one user, according to the report. Requests for the data of at least 38,000 users were made worldwide.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Wednesday he was unaware of the request and added that Cambodia pro- motes free speech.

“Even though the big countries like the U.S. and U.K. spend so much money to control their own citizens, we promote freedom of expression in the digital era,” he said.

Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said Wednesday she was pleased that Facebook had declined Cambodia’s request.

“We urge Facebook to take into account the Cambodian government’s heavy censorship of traditional media, which has greatly increased the importance of social media, in considering any future government requests,” she said in an email.

Charlene Chian, Facebook’s Asia-Pacific spokeswoman, said she could not elaborate on why Facebook ignored Cambodia’s data request. “Unfortunately we don’t have any more information to share,” she said.
The Facebook pages of political party candidates from the opposition CNRP and ruling CPP saw a significant rise in followers ahead of the national election last month, and some candidates have claimed they were defamed on the social network.

The CNRP has also used Facebook as a tool to engage its young supporters prior to—and following—the election, particularly to organize rallies.

The below is CCHR's picture which shot during CNRP's fans who gathered at Freedom Park on August 26, 2013. Most of them are youths who likely used facebook to mobilize people to conduct any campaign. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

NEC examines ballots

Election day ballots are emptied into a container at National Election Committee headquarters. HONG MENEA

Original source from Phnom Penh Post 

The National Election Committee, acting on orders from the Constitutional Council, yesterday examined ballots and original documents taken from 13 polling stations in a Kratie province commune, but the opposition and observers quickly questioned the process’s validity due to apparent irregularities.
Despite the fact that “Safety Package A” – which contains original ballots and counting sheets from polling stations – was to remain sealed to prevent tampering, the Cambodia National Rescue Party and the Cambodian Center for Human Rights both said that several packages were either unsealed or inadequately sealed, an observation that the NEC did not contest.
The opposition also maintained that, while the result of the recount of the enclosed ballots from Kratie’s Svay Chrah commune was no different from the one previously released by the NEC for either of the two main parties, there was a discrepancy in the number of invalidated ballots.
Though the parties and the NEC did not reach a consensus on what that discrepancy means – that decision will be left to the Constitutional Council – both parties, along with Funcinpec and the NEC, signed a document agreeing that irregularities had taken place.
“The Constitutional Council has to resolve all of the complaints filed by the CNRP transparently, and it is not fair if the Constitutional Council rejects our complaint by claiming that the election irregularities will not affect the result,” opposition lawmaker Kuoy Bunrouen said, noting that the examination of the original documents was a positive step. “If they [NEC] committed fraud with the invalid votes, then it affects the CNRP’s invalid votes.”
Bunroeun went on to say that, by the CNRP’s count, there were about 100 invalidated ballots missing from the opened packages.
“The Constitutional Council has to find out the reason why that many invalid votes were lost and where they went,” he continued, adding that even if only a small percentage of ballots were improperly invalidated, it could have a huge impact, especially in hotly contested constituencies.
Kandal is perhaps the clearest example of such a case, with the CNRP maintaining that it was fewer than 170 votes shy of picking up an additional seat – a claim buttressed by an independent researcher’s analysis.
Constitutional Council spokesman Prom Nhean Vicheth, who observed the count at NEC headquarters, said that the council would resolve the remaining complaints transparently.
“We will consider [this] and will make an effort to resolve the problem no later than the scheduled announcement of the official election results by the NEC,” Vicheth said. “It is not about which political party will benefit or lose, but the most important thing here is to show transparency and make it clean.”
But Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Ou Virak, who sent an observer to the proceedings, said that issues with the recount – including the fact that the vast majority of the 13 packages were improperly sealed – made the results far from certain.
“Some were not secured at all … some were not sealed properly,” he said, confirming that while the vote count for the main parties was indeed the same, “it was actually different in the number of votes voided, which would have affected the smaller parties”.
“The fact that the package was tampered [with], or not sealed properly, will give rise to more questions or accusations than answers,” he added.
However, Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the NEC, brushed off such concerns as a “technical problem” stemming from inadequately trained local staffers.
“We found that the mistake occurred from a technical problem, and did not affect the result of the election for any political party,” he said. “Nothing is secret after we opened the Safety Package A, and the result remained the same between the official form 1102, [form] 1108 and the vote-tallying paper.”
Nytha went on to say that the NEC would go ahead with the unveiling of official election results on September 8, as long as the Constitutional Council had rendered its final decisions.
But CCHR’s Virak questioned the ability of the council to render an impartial decision, and suggested that the decision to open Safety Package A in the Kratie stations was a “political decision” aimed at appeasing the opposition. The real battleground is yet to come, he said.
“I think the one that everyone is waiting for is actually Kandal,” he said.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fraud, Irregularities, and Intimidation During the 2013 National Assembly Elections

On July 28, 2013, Cambodians went to the polls in the millions, eager to cast ballots in the country’s hotly contested National Assembly elections. Many of them, however, were improperly turned away. Observers, who were certified by the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC), also documented other worrisome irregularities, some indicating the use of fraud and vote rigging. As a result of these findings, which are described in this report, LICADHO supports calls for a genuine independent investigation and a polling station level recount with independent observers before the results are finalized.

This report compiles key observations from 173 staff and partners who visited over 100 polling stations. There are 19,009 polling stations in Cambodia. As such, this report is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of election day irregularities, but instead offers a snapshot revealing the need for further investigation.
Overall, observers witnessed serious discrepancies in an alarming percentage of the stations visited. The issues can be grouped into three main areas: voter roll irregularities, including inexplicably missing names and similar denials of the right to vote; indications of intentional fraud or vote rigging; and intimidation or harassment.

In most stations visited, LICADHO observers spoke with individuals who had verified their registration prior to the election day, only to find their names missing from the voter rolls upon arrival at their polling station. Similarly, several individuals were turned away after being told that someone else had already voted in their name – often the earlier voter had used a commune chief-awarded identity certificate in lieu of a photo ID. Would-be voters were also denied their right to vote on improper bases, such as their failure to bring their voter information slip to the polls.

Perhaps more alarmingly, LICADHO observers determined that voter rolls at several of the polling stations visited had been intentionally manipulated. In one, LICADHO observers spoke with individuals who freely admitted that they were part of a large group that had been brought to the commune to vote by their employer, despite the fact that they had not resided or registered in that commune. LICADHO also observed groups of well-dressed individuals arriving at certain stations in convoys of luxury cars. In those instances, local residents approached LICADHO observers stating that the individuals were not from the commune in question. Finally, in Siem Reap, LICADHO observers saw mobile military units arriving to vote in new polling stations – the units had travelled from Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear and slept in nearby pagodas before arriving at the special stations to vote. All of these case studies are described in detail below.

LICADHO also observed numerous instances of disturbing intimidation. In some instances, observers heard from residents who felt intimidated by the presence of party officials and local authorities inside the polling stations. On occasion, those officials were witnessed taking notes on who had voted. In Kampong Cham, LICADHO’s observer himself was questioned at length the night before the election. LICADHO observers also witnessed crowds at certain polling stations who were barring individuals from voting based on their apparent ethnicity. Such discrimination also clearly merits further investigation.

Although LICADHO was only able to visit a small number of stations, relatively speaking, and was unable to monitor stations for the entire duration of the Election Day, the below observations unequivocally demonstrate the need for further in-depth investigations and additional procedures before the vote results can be finalized.

Please download this report by clicking here

Joint Statement On the Situation on Freedom of Assembly

                                                                                                                           August 23, 2013

Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), Committee for free and fair election (COMFREL), and Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and fair election in Cambodia (NICFEC), a Human Rights Group in Cambodia, strongly condemn the hampering made against the people’s participation in a gathering forum for the expression of opinions of Battambang’s residents and parliamentarian, including the commune council members on the process of election in Cambodia which was organized by Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM). 

In the morning of 22 August 2013, there were around 40 city police of Battambang equipped with shields and batons deployed to area where the assembly was held at Angkor village, Sangkat O Cha, Batambong province. There were reports of security forces hampered people from participating in the assembly, including a senior politician from CNRP, Ms. Mu Sochua, who was also present at the assembly. The hamper has led to violent clash between participants and police. However, there has been no injured were reported.

Civil Society organizations noted that acts of the police who made the obstruction against the people were the violation of freedom of assembly that caused to the serious affect against the freedom of opinion and expression of the people which are protected by law. The gathering of people is very important for the promotion of democracy in Cambodia. Therefore, the prevention of people from participation in the forum in the province of Battambang, is the sign of threat against people from being encouraged to take part in other forums as well.

To promote human rights and democracy in Cambodia, civil society organizations propose to the government to 1) give instruction and punishment to those police who made obstruction and disruption towards the gathering of people and 2) proposing to Cambodian government in its capacity as a signatory to human rights treaties to thoroughly respect and uphold its human rights obligations especially to promote the freedom of assembly freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of association which are the sources for the instillation and the practices of democracy in Cambodia.

For inquiries, please contact:

Mr. Sok Sam Oeun      CHRAC Chairman and Executive Director of CDP     Tel: 012 901 199
Mr. Ny Chakrya           Head of Investigation Unit of ADHOC                        Tel: 011 274 959
Mr. Hang Puthea          Executive Director of NICFEC                                    Tel: 012 949 666
Mr. Run Saray                Executive Director LAC                                            Tel: 012 838 341
Mr. Mak Chamroeun     President of KYA                                                      Tel: 017 788 955
Mr. Yung Kim Eng        President of PDP-Center                                            Tel: 016 828 211
Mr. Kol Pahna             Executive Director of COMFREL                                Tel: 012 942 017

Mr. Suon Bunsak         Executive Secretary of CHRAC                                   Tel: 092 344 357

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Joint Statement Local authorities forced local residents to provide thumb prints as to support the result of the July 28 election

  Joint Statement
Local authorities forced local residents to provide thumb prints as to support the result of the July 28 election
       Phnom Penh, 19 August 2013

We, a rgoup of civil society, non-governmental organizations and mebers of situation room, are deeply disappoitned and strongly condemning the act of local authority in Phnom Penh and in some other provinces who have been forcing voters to provide their thumb prints in order to support the preliminary contesting-result of the July 28 election.
Accoridng to some voters, they are being threatened by local authorities, forcing them to provide their thumb prints. There are report of instances that local authorities enganging in such act in some localities such as Sangkat O Reusey, Sangkat Srachoak, Sangkat Pong Teuk, Sangkat Boeung Payab, Sangkat Tuol Svay Prey-1, Sangkat Boeungkeng Kong-2 and Sangkat Chak Angrae Krom, including some other provinces.
This act, is a new form of intimidation in the fatermath of the July 28 national election and gravly violating the Cambodia National Constitution, particularly on the rights to freedom of expression of the voters. Moreover, this act has clearly threatened and breached the rights to confidentiality of voters, and this has also intensified tension and potential fear which is currently happening in Cambodia.  
We strongly believe that any petition that is conducted in form of intimidation will not meaningfully contribute to trustable result of the election.  We also believe that this act is undermining the process of free and fair election process and that only transparent and independent investigation on the allegation of irregularities will bring fair and just for Cambodian.
The Situation Room of association and non-governmental organization calls on the current government to take measure to immediately stop this act and ensure that the rights to freedom of expression of voters are fully protected.
For inquiries, please contact:

Mr. Thun Saray           President of Executive Director of CMFREL                       016440044
Mr. Sok Sam Oeun     CHRAC Chairman and Executive Director of CDP              012901199
Mr.Kol Pahna              Executive Director of COMFREL                                         012942017
Mr. Hang Puthea         Executive Director of NICFEC                                              012949666
Mr. Preab Kol             Executive Director of Cambodian Transparency                    012877833
Mr.Him Yon               Coordinator of CISA                                                              012947022
Ms. Ros Sopheap        Executive Director of GAD/C                                                012627857
Mr.Chhit Sam Arth     Executive Director of NGO Forum                                        012928585
Mr. Naly Piloge           Executive Director of LICADHO                                          012803650
Mr. Yeng Vireak         Executive Director of CLEC                                                  066777000
Mr. Suon Bunsak        Executive Secretary of CHRAC                                            092344357