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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

IMF: Cambodia's macroeconomic stability to continue

A visiting delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has praised on Cambodia's sound economic progress, predicting that the economy will grow by 7.75 percent next year on the back of continued expansion in its four pillar industries, local media said on Wednesday.

IMF announced that Cambodia has implemented macroeconomic strategies well and that GDP in 2007 will rise by 9.5 percent over 2006, based on solid growth in the agriculture, construction, tourism and garment sectors, reported Cambodian-language newspaper the Rasmei Kampuchea.

In 2008, the figure will drop to a respectable 7.75 percent, as although garment exports are expected to rise, the speed of growth will be reduced by regional competition and a decrease in demand and export targets, reported another Cambodian-language newspaper the Koh Santepheap.

"There is increased regional competition and some softening of demand in key export markets. These factors are likely to persist in 2008, but real GDP growth is projected to remain strong at 7.75 percent," said an IMF statement.

IMF praised Cambodia for its income gathering, concluding that extra capital will now be available to enable the government to bolster all sectors.

The delegation, led by Jeremy Carter, an IMF advisor for the Asia-Pacific region, also predicted that government revenues will continue to increase and recommended the government with improved tax collection strategies, said the Rasmei Kampuchea.

IMF will continue to help organize accounting of the national budget and cash management, but the government should increase caution to prevent monetary risks as Cambodia now has an increased cash flow, it added.

According to official figures, Cambodia, although one of the most impoverished countries in the region, has scored consistent economic growth in the past decade. The increase rates even reached two digits in the peak period.

Source: Xinhua
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Groundbreaking Web Site to Chronicle Cambodia War Crimes Tribunal

Cambodia Tribunal Monitor (www.CambodiaTribunal.org) to provide webcasts, news, information and expert commentary on tribunal cr

CHICAGO, Sept. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new Web site has been launched that will provide ongoing coverage and commentary on the Cambodia war crimes tribunal, now in its early stages of work near Phnom Penh. The Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, now available at http://www.cambodiatribunal.org/, will serve as a leading source of news and information on the upcoming trials of senior officials of the Khmer Rouge regime for atrocity crimes.

Throughout the court proceedings, the Web site will offer news updates, video excerpts of the trials and guest commentaries by leading international experts on the recent history of Cambodia, politics, human rights and international law.

From April 1975 to January 1979, an estimated 1.7 million Cambodian citizens died under the Khmer Rouge regime. After nearly 10 years of negotiations, a special war crimes tribunal has commenced near Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), as the special Cambodian court is formally known, will oversee the proceedings and is a joint partnership of the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia.

In addition to archiving daily international news articles, the Web site also provides background information on the history of the Khmer Rouge and ECCC. Important resources such as court documents and bibliographies of scholarly articles and books are also posted. Once the trials formally begin, which is estimated for early 2008, Cambodia Tribunal Monitor will provide daily tape-delayed video of the court proceedings, as well as video of interviews with Cambodian citizens documenting their reaction to the events.

The Cambodia Tribunal Monitor will also feature essays written by leading experts on the subject. The commentary section opens with companion essays by David Scheffer, Northwestern University law professor and former U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, and Youk Chhang, executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam). In their essays, Scheffer and Chhang set the stage for the tribunal and reflect on why the trials are important to both the international community and the Cambodian people.

"Cambodia has had enough justice administered behind closed doors. It is essential that the ECCC provide some answers ... about who is accountable and why," Chhang writes. "The tribunal must leave people with a judgment, something concrete they can take away and debate, and something they feel was done in fairness to all."

When discussing the importance of the ECCC, Chhang speaks from personal experience as he lived in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. During this time, his family was relocated to the countryside and into forced labor. Several of his family members were killed by the regime, including his sister and brother-in-law.

In addition to the significance the ECCC represents to the Cambodian people, Scheffer points out that it will also be a closely observed by an international community of human rights and justice advocates.

"That fact alone [the existence of the ECCC] sends a powerful signal throughout the world that the international community is getting serious ... about accountability for atrocity crimes and that there is no stopwatch for justice," writes Scheffer, who is currently the director of the Center for International Human Rights at the Northwestern University School of Law.

In the coming months, commentary and insight from more than a dozen additional contributors will be added to the site.

The Cambodia Tribunal Monitor was developed by a consortium of academic, philanthropic and non-profit organizations committed to providing public access to the tribunal and open discussion throughout the judicial process. The academic manager and sponsor of the site is Northwestern University School of Law's Center for International Human Rights, joined by co-sponsors Documentation Center of Cambodia and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. The prime sponsor of the site is the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation.

The Web site concept was conceived by Illinois State Senator Jeff Schoenberg, a Chicago-area legislator who also advises the Pritzker family on its philanthropy. In January, Schoenberg participated in a trip sponsored by Build Cambodia, a U.S. based not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping Cambodians build their lives and society. As a result of the experience, Schoenberg enlisted the support of the aforementioned sponsors, and with their assistance the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor was created.

"The goal of this site is to provide broader public exposure to one of the greatest atrocities in modern history and the pursuit of justice that is now in front of us," Schoenberg said. "Unfortunately, because these crimes were committed more than 30 years ago, there is a generation who knows nothing about this period of history. I encourage professors, teachers, students, historians, journalists and the general public to use Cambodia Tribunal Monitor to ensure that we don't forget the past - and to demonstrate that in the end, justice prevails."

In the coming months, certain portions of the site will be translated into Khmer and French.

Cambodia Tribunal Monitor
CONTACT: Jeff Valenzuela for Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, +1-312-573-5495,
or cell, +1-414-405-6418

Web site: http://www.cambodiatribunal.org /

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KIDS LEARN TO PRACTICE CONSERVATION IN RURAL CAMBODIA

PEPY, an adventure cycle tour and humanitarian aid organization, has partnered with Mlup Baitong, a well respected Cambodian NGO to launch an Eco-Club program at eight primary schools in the region of Kralanh, Siem Reap province. The innovative program gives rural students hands-on experience in environmental awareness and resource management.

With PEPY’s support, Mlup Baitong will train teachers and principals at each school about environmental education and conservation, and how to apply the action-based Eco-Club concept. The trained teachers will be involved in facilitating club activities through micro-projects, where students can choose to initiate activities such as tree planting, compost making, waste collection, vegetable gardening, a schoolyard clean-up, or an anti-litter campaign. The program launches at all eight schools at the start of the academic year in October.

This program is one of PEPY’s many educational and environmental initiatives, aimed at increasing opportunities for students and families in developing areas. PEPY has funded the construction of two rural schools in Cambodia, and has several humanitarian programs, which focus on increasing access to and quality of education. These programs are funded by PEPY’s unique volunteer and adventure tours.

PEPY founder Daniela Papi notes, “Many people donate in support of development projects they will never visit, but with PEPY, you can go where your money goes. By joining one of our trips, you see first hand the difference you are making.” Each tour participant fundraises for specific, ongoing projects, which they then have the chance to visit during their tour in Cambodia. This December, PEPY will organize an experiential tour in Kralahn, offering a chance for the 20 volunteer travelers to witness the activities of the Eco-Club program and assist with student-run environmental initiatives.

Thus far, over 50 schools, 250 teachers and 4000 children have participated in Mlup Baitong’s existing Eco-Clubs all over Cambodia. The partnership with PEPY will allow even more schools to benefit from this program. Cooperation with a school typically lasts two to three years, after which the schools may still be involved as demonstration centers for new target schools in the project. Eco-Club members develop an increased awareness of the natural environment around them and how they can make a positive impact.

Students are encouraged to share their new skills and knowledge with their friends and family. To strengthen this effect, the project also implements activities in the communities surrounding the schools. In addition to environmental education projects such as the Eco-Clubs, Mlup Baitong is also invested in Community Forestry and Ecotourism activities across Cambodia.

For more information about PEPY, to make a donation, or to sign up for any of the upcoming volunteer trips, please visit www.pepyride.org
To learn more about Mlup Baitong’s environmental programs across Cambodia, please visit www.mlup.org .

The PEPY Ride is a New York State registered Non-for-Profit Corporation founded in 2005 to support educational projects in developing countries and disaster relief areas with a focus on the relationship between the environment and our health. Emphasizing education through action, where participants both learn from and give back to the communities they visit, PEPY Tours organizes volunteer and adventure travel in developing countries and redevelopment areas suffering from natural disaster.
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Bali sends artists to Cambodia

JAKARTA: The Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) of Denpasar has sent a group of artists to Cambodia to participate in an Indonesian Tourism and Trade Exhibition in Siem Reap from Sept. 20 to 23.

"The nine-member arts delegation will perform Indonesia's traditional dances, including Balinese dances which are popular internationally," ISI rector I Wayan Rai told Antara in Denpasar, Bali, on Tuesday.

The artists were invited to attend the event by the Indonesian Embassy in Cambodia.

Wayan Rai said during the visit ISI would also explore the possibility of establishing cooperation with Cambodia's art institute.-- JP

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Bird, monkey species in Cambodia added to critically endangered list

Two types of birds and one species of monkey native to Cambodia have had their survival prospects worsen significantly in the past year, according to the World Conservation Union's 2007 "Red List", the most comprehensive annual assessment of the world's endangered animals and plants, local media reported Wednesday.

The red-headed vulture and the Bengal florican, once abundant in Cambodia, have been re-classified as critically endangered, meaning they face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future, the Cambodia Daily newspaper said.

Meanwhile, the douc monkey has also been elevated to endangered status worldwide, according to the World Conservation Union, or IUCN.

Recent worldwide declines in the population of red-headed vultures are believed mainly to have been caused by the pharmaceutical Diclofenac, which is used to treat livestock but toxic to vultures that feed on their carcasses, the IUCN report said, adding that there could be as few as 300 of the vultures remaining in all of Southeast Asia.

The Bengal florican has declined to as few as 900 birds in Cambodia and could be extinct in the country within five years, the report stated.

The douc monkey also faces a very high risk of extinction in the near future, it said.

Tom Evans, technical adviser for the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the decline of the red-headed vulture in Cambodia was mainly due to less carrion on the ground than poisoning.

In fact, Diclofenac is not used in Cambodia, which could mean there is a good chance for the species to begin recover its numbers here, he said.

Included on the "Red List" are 26 animals, fish and plants found in Cambodia, which are listed as critically endangered, and some 36 species listed as endangered.

Source: Xinhua
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Cambodia: Top Former Khmer Rouge Leader Arrested In Cambodia

PAILIN, CAMBODIA: Police detained the top surviving leader of the Khmer Rouge, Nuon Chea, on Wednesday (19 Sept) over his role in the notorious former Cambodian regime that caused the deaths of 1.7 million people in the late 1970s.

Police surrounded his home in Pailin in northwestern Cambodia near the Thai border and served him with an arrest warrant on charges of crimes against humanity, police Capt. Sem Sophal said.

Officers later took Nuon Chea, who is about 80 years old, into custody and put him on a helicopter heading for the capital, Phnom Penh, as dozens of onlookers gathered to watch the historic scene, witnesses said.

Nuon Chea helped the group's notorious leader Pol Pot seize control of Cambodia's communist movement in the 1950s and '60s and then became the movement's chief political ideologue during its murderous rule in the 1970s.

"The police have already put him on the helicopter," said Ou Boran, a grandson of Nuon Chea.

Prosecutors for the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal investigating crimes by the Khmer Rouge have not publicly named Nuon Chea as a suspect. But he is believed to be one of five senior Khmer Rouge figures they have recommended for trial before the panel.

He would be the second, and highest-ranking, Khmer Rouge leader detained to appear before the panel.

"There is an order from the top to execute a warrant to take Nuon Chea (into custody) this morning," Sem Sophal said before Nuon Chea was taken into custody. "All road access to his house have been ordered sealed."

After numerous delays, the tribunal's co-investigating judge You Bun Leng and his U.N.-appointed counterpart, Marcel Lemonde, in July began investigations of former Khmer Rouge leaders accused of crimes against humanity.

Nuon Chea said in July that he is ready to stand trial.

"I will go to the court and don't care if people believe me or not," Nuon Chea said.

Reach Sambath, a tribunal spokesman, declined to comment Wednesday.

Kaing Guek Eav, commonly known as Duch who headed the former Khmer Rouge S-21 prison, is currently the only senior figure detained by the tribunal on charges of crimes against humanity committed during the Khmer Rouge's time in power. He was charged last month.

The late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998 and his former military chief, Ta Mok, died in 2006 in government custody.

Their senior-level colleagues, Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister; and Khieu Samphan, the former head of state, live freely in Cambodia but are in declining health. They are also widely believed to be on the prosecutors' list. (By SOPHENG CHEANG/ AP)
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