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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Prayer Day for World Peace to legendary Bloodscattered Choeung Ek

Cambodian Buddhists monks and Japanese monks of Catuddisa Sangha march during a Prayer Day for World Peace, a Buddhist ceremony organized by Japanese Buddhist monks of Catuddisa Sangha, at Choeung Ek, 17 km (11 miles) south of Phnom Penh, May 31, 2007. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
Cambodian Buddhists monks and Japanese monks of Catuddisa Sangha march during a Prayer Day for World Peace, a Buddhist ceremony organized by Japanese Buddhist monks of Catuddisa Sangha, at Choeung Ek, 17 km (11 miles) south of Phnom Penh, May 31, 2007. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

A Cambodian Buddhist monk, takes a picture of human skulls at Choeung Ek killing field in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, May 31, 2007. Cambodian and foreign judges met Thursday to narrow their differences on holding a much-delayed U.N.-backed genocide tribunal for former leaders of the Khmer Rouge, a brutal regime blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

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A Cambodian Buddhist nun, point to human skulls at Choeung Ek killing field in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, May 31, 2007. Cambodian and foreign judges met Thursday to narrow their differences on holding a much-delayed U.N.-backed genocide tribunal for former leaders of the Khmer Rouge, a brutal regime blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith) . Read more!

Cambodia: UN-Backed Project to Help Rural Poor

The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (<"http://www.ifad.org/media/press/2007/28.htm">IFAD) has announced that it will support a new $11.5 million development project in Cambodia aimed at helping the rural poor."The project will not only boost incomes, it will also lay foundations for sustainable social and economic development in the future," said Youqiong Wang, IFAD's country programme manager for Cambodia, noting that it is the agency's first to target the poor, ethnic population living in remote areas of the country.

Decades of war and internal strife have made Cambodia one of the world's poorer countries. The three provinces that the project is targeting - Kratie, Preah Vihear and Ratanakiri - are among the poorest in the country, IFAD said in a news release.

The Rural Livelihoods Improvement Project, set to involve 22,600 rural households in the border provinces, will be financed partly by a grant of $9.5 million from IFAD. It will also receive funding from the Government of Cambodia and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Source: United Nations
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Judges meet to keep ball rolling on Cambodian genocide trials

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Cambodian and foreign judges met Thursday to narrow their differences on holding a much-delayed U.N.-backed genocide tribunal for former leaders of the Khmer Rouge, a brutal regime blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people.

The judges' task over the next two weeks will be to adopt procedural rules necessary for convening the trials for crimes against humanity and genocide, hopefully by early next year.

Many fear that unless agreement is reached quickly, the aging defendants could die before being brought to justice.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the meeting "is a very important and historical chance to bring the tribunal forward."

With the likely defendants ailing and frail, and almost three decades having passed without their victims seeing justice done, the tribunal has no more time to lose, said Marcel Lemonde, a co-investigating judge.

"We know that some of the possible defendants are elderly people. They might die, so that's precisely the reason why we have to be very diligent and try and organize proceedings as soon as possible," Lemonde told The Associated Press.

Once the rules are adopted, the investigation phase should begin within weeks.

The radical polices of the communist Khmer Rouge caused the deaths of about 1.7 million people through hunger, disease, overwork and execution during their horrific 1975-79 rule.

The tribunal, officially known as Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, was created last year after seven years of contentious negotiations between the United Nations and Cambodia. The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen — a former Khmer Rouge soldier — constantly bullied the world body for control of the joint venture.

With a US$56.3 million (€42 million) budget limited to three years, trials had been expected to start this year. But Cambodian and foreign judges spent the last six months bickering about the rules. The setting of expensive legal fees for foreign lawyers wanting to take part in the tribunal was the latest obstacle, resolved only in April.

The tribunal is an unprecedented hybrid, with Cambodian judges holding the majority in decision-making matters but needing one supportive vote from a foreign counterpart to reach a super-majority to prevail.

It is operated under the Cambodian judicial system, often described by critics as weak, corrupt and susceptible to political manipulation.

Lemonde himself never worked at an international tribunal before but was a judge in France for 30 years. Cambodian law, which guides the proceedings, is based on the French model.

"The whole system is a very complicated one," he said, pointing out that every decision has to be made jointly. Even language is a huge headache, he said, because everything has to be translated into Cambodian, English and French.

The rules have "only been one tiny issue that has taken a lot of energy and time from everybody," said Theary Seng, executive director of Center for Social Development, a non-governmental Cambodian group that monitors the country's courts.

Their adoption, she cautioned, will remove "only one hurdle among countless potential hurdles" ahead.

She said the larger concern is that the quality and determination of the tribunal and its personnel, both Cambodian and foreign, have yet to be tested, and they will have to show both mettle and flexibility.

Cambodian officials will be thinking in the context of their future careers, taking into account the country's political pressures, which will remain long after their foreign counterparts have gone, she said.

The U.N.-appointed officials are also facing a heavy responsibility because "they have to balance their role as international judges and prosecutors with integrity and a known name already, and they have to balance that with their concerns and their suspicions that the process may not be up to a level that they feel comfortable with," she said.

"This court has been organized probably not in an ideal way," said Lemonde, "but this was the only one acceptable to everybody."
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Korean group to build US$2b Cambodia city

A group of South Korean companies said it would spend US$2 billion (HK$15.6 billion) on building a new city in Cambodia, the biggest single investment in the impoverished country still recovering from decades of war.

The residential, commercial, cultural and business complex would be built on 119 hectares on the northern edge of Phnom Penh, the group said Wednesday.

The group, which includes Busan Mutual Savings Bank and property development company Landmark Worldwide, had been wary of Cambodia because of the country's violent recent history, marketing director Lee Yunyoung said.

"But actually when we came here we realized that it is really safe," he said at the ground-breaking ceremony.

"So we want to start our project before others start."

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said the project would help attract more investors.

"Our population continues to increase sharply, so we need to expand our old city to meet the needs of the people," he said. "Foreign investors also need good infrastructure to run their businesses."

Cambodia's growth has been remarkably high in recent years. Its economy grew 10.4 percent last year, when foreign direct investment hit a record US$4 billion.

In another development, Samsung Engineering, South Korea's biggest engineering company, signed a preliminary agreement to build an ammonia plant in Saudi Arabia for US$946 million, the company's largest single contract.

The factory is for Saudi Arabian Mining and will be completed by December 2010, Samsung Engineering said. The company now expects to exceed a previous target for US$3.5 billion in orders this year.

Samsung Engineering and South Korea's other contractors are more than half way to matching a record set in 1981 for orders from the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has awarded the most contracts.

"It will only get better as a number of major projects are expected to be awarded this year in the Middle East," said Byun Sung Jin, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities in Seoul.

"This contract will put Samsung Engineering in a better position to win some of those orders."

Saudi Arabia - the world's largest oil producer - is the biggest single source of overseas revenue for South Korean contractors, who have received US$58.1 billion in orders in the 34 years they have been doing business in the Arab kingdom, according to the International Contractors Association of Korea.

Shares of Samsung Engineering gained 7.6 percent to a record close of 85,000 won (HK$714) in Seoul. The stock has almost doubled this year, compared with a 16 percent climb in South Korea's KOSPI index.

Saudi Arabia is expected to invest about US$76 billion until 2010 for refineries and other chemical plants, according to Samsung Engineering. The ammonia plant will have the capacity to produce 3,300 tonnes of the chemical a day, making it the largest in the country.

South Korean contractors have received a combined US$7.45 billion in new orders from the Middle East this year, with almost half of that coming from the United Arab Emirates, the contractors' association said.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG
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