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Friday, July 31, 2009

26 Out on Bail After Land Dispute Violence

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer


Banteay Meanchey provincial court released 26 people on bail Friday, but upheld charges against them for violence in a Poipet land dispute.

Police initially arrested 22 men and nine women on July 24 as they pushed them from their land, following a decision by the Supreme Court in a land dispute between two groups of villagers.

All 31 have been charged with destruction of property, incitement and attempted murder, after they battled with local security forces, throwing gasoline bombs, acid and stones, in an attempt to stay on their land.

Two men were released on Sunday under the control of court authorities, and three men remain in the provincial jail.

“Banteay Meanchey court decided to allow the 26 accused to remain out of detention in a verdict on July 29,” according to a decision by investigating judges Ang Mealtey and Soeng Kuch.

The 26 will be required to appear in court when summoned, the judges said.

Oun Ranhya, a 24-year-old defendant released Friday, said the decision was just, “because we lost our land and houses, and the court detained us.”

“We have lived on this land for nearly 20 years,” he said.

He appealed to the court to drop all charges against the villagers.

Sum Chankea, a local coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the villagers were being charged with both civil and penal laws. He said they should only be charged with penal offenses, and should not have been released on bail, because the villagers don’t understand the verdict of the court or the law.

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Cambodian private equity firm Leopard Capital buys majority stake in beer brewery for $2m

Leopard Capital, a Cambodian private equity firm, has completed the fourth deal from its $27m debut vehicle Leopard Cambodia Fund by investing $2m in Kingdom Breweries.

LCF will acquire a 55.5 per cent share of the brewery for its investment.
The company, a Cambodian beer brewer, believes that with half the country’s population under the legal drinking age limit, consumption should shoot up over the next five to ten years.

Kingdom Breweries aims to secure a foothold by producing high-quality craft beer in a microbrewery in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

The fund’s previous transactions include a $1m investment in Greenside Holdings, which is part of a consortium of investors that is refurbishing, designing, constructing and commissioning a rural power transmission and distribution system.

LCF has also put $1.8m into Cambodia Plantations, a Singapore-based company which serves as an offshore finance vehicle for agricultural investments in central Cambodia.

The Leopard Cambodia Fund was launched in March 2008 and is targeting sectors in the financial services, agriculture, food and beverage production, building materials, tourism, and property development in the south-east Asian country.

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Cambodia approves sub-decree of co-ownership regulations

Cambodia's Council of Ministers on Friday approved a sub-decree of new co-ownership regulations, allowing legal ownership of individual apartments or condominium ownership, which paves the way for a law allowing foreign ownership of some property.

The new co-ownership regulations will make it possible to own units within a larger building without having title to the land it's on, according to the press release from the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers which was presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"Its objects will guarantee to protect rights of legal holders in apartments or condominiums for co-ownership," it said, adding that it will facilitate to management work of co-ownership of apartments and co-owners who live in the apartments or condominiums.

Moreover, the new regulations will also facilitate co-ownership for sale, exchange, donation, in-heritage, permanent rent, and collateralizing of the private parts as personal ownership. The sub-decree, with seven charters and 27 articles, has large coverage for exercising all kinds of the apartments and condominiums across the country.

"This sub-decree will be applied in the country soon and local people who bought the houses in the apartments, condominiums and skyscrapers blocks will know about the rights and ownership," Nun Pheany, spokeswoman for Ministry of Land Management, Urban planning and Construction, told Xinhua.

The foreigners have not had rights to own Cambodian land or housing so far. They could rent for doing their business or staying only, she stressed.

"In the near future, we will have a law on the foreign ownership of Cambodian land and housing. My ministry and Ministry of Justice are discussing to compose that draft law in accordance with our constitution," she said.

"By that law, the foreigners, perhaps, could own above the first floor for apartments or condominiums, even though, we need to discuss more details," she said.

However, Nun Pheany said the foreigners would not be allowed to buy the land near borders with neighboring countries because it could affect national sovereignty and which is also prohibited by the law.

She said that when foreign title law is to be approved, it will help increase the foreign investment and contribute to economic growth in the country.

Source: Xinhua
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cambodian FM to visit Thailand in early August on border issues

PHNOM PENH, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and Thailand will have a meeting of multi-committee in Bangkok to push the measurement for border demarcation, a senior official said on Thursday.

"I will go to Thailand for the meeting of multi-committee on August 3 and 4," Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation told reporters after the signing ceremony of receiving over 33 million U.S. dollars grant aid from Japanese government at his ministry.

"I will require Thai side to continue discussion on the border issues and the Border Committee from both countries will meet soon to discuss on the measurement of the border to plant border posts," he added.

"The situation at areas near Preah Vihear temple is calm now, and Thai troops are deployed on there soil," Hor Namhong said. "There are no tension at the border, not like the media reported," he stressed.

At the same time, Hor also thanked Thai government cabinet for its approving on Tuesday to provide 41.2 million U.S. dollars for road improvement projects in Cambodia. The fund will be used to build Road 68 near border with Thailand, which will help facilitate the trade and tourism between the two countries, he noted.

Moreover, Cambodia and Thailand will open more border gates to push and facilitate the trade and tourism, he said.

Cambodia and Thailand share over 800 km-long borders. The troops from both sides have some confrontation since July 15, 2008, mainly near 11th century Preah Vihear temple.
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Govt urged to oppose French oil deal

The People's Assembly of Thailand on Thursday submitted a letter to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, calling for the government to act against the oil drilling agreement being made between the Cambodian government and the French oil company Total covering a disputed area of the Gulf of Thailand.

The letter was forwarded to the prime minister through the Government House complaints centre by Chaiwat Sinsuwong, the assembly secretary-general, and Admiral Bannawit Kengrian, chairman of the assembly's committee for monitoring the use of state power.

It said Cambodia and France had reached an agreement over an oil and gas drilling concession in the overlapping Thai and Cambodian territorial waters in the Gulf of Thailand, but the government and armed forces had not done anything to protect Thai territorial sovereignty.

Adm Bannawit, a former defence permanent secretary, said the assembly also submit a protest letter to the French embassy in Bangkok. He said the French ambassador admitted the area was under dispute.

Therefore, the government should take action to prevent border problems similar to the one concerning the Preah Vihear temple.

He said the prime minister would be charged with neglect of duty if he failed to act on this matter in seven days.

Phnom Penh is reported to be drawing up an agreement to give France's Total rights to look for oil in its offshore block 3 in the Gulf of Thailand.

A provisional agreement was reached two weeks ago when Prime Minister Hun Sen was in Paris.
"Hun Sen told the French prime minister that Cambodia had decided to award block 3 to the French company, Total, for oil drilling after lengthy consideration," Prak Sokhon, a senior government official who was in the delegation, later told reporters.

Te Duong Tara, director general of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority (CNPA), said details were still being worked out.

Cambodia does not yet produce oil. Chevron Corp is the operator of Block A in the Gulf of Thailand but is unlikely to produce oil before 2010 at the earliest.

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Research and Markets: Cambodia Telecoms Market Describes the Regulatory Environment in Cambodia

A report describing Cambodia's telecoms market covering recent developments in the mobile, fixed and Internet sectors (including broadband and Wimax), and a overview of the regulatory scene

This report reviews the situation in Cambodia, looks at the country's economic prospects, and analyses the current telecoms market and its likely future direction. The report also describes the regulatory environment in Cambodia. In summary, our findings are that although Cambodia has been impacted by the global economic slowdown, the country had enjoyed four years of double digit economic growth and in the future may benefit from recently discovered offshore oil and gas.

This economic growth has helped to fuel the take up of mobile communications. There is a real risk, however, that the mobile market is becoming too crowded with the government licensing a number of new operators in 2007 and 2008. Whereas until recently there were only three GSM operators, there are now a total of nine players (eight GSM and WCDMA, and one CDMA 2000) in the market as of June 2009. There may be at least a further four unused licences.

Fixed and broadband network development has not matched this rapid growth of mobile. The fixed network penetration remains amongst the lowest in the world, and there are very few broadband connections. Telecom Cambodia (TC), the Government owned fixed network operator, depends on revenues from international services and expects to derive further revenue by acting as a transit point for all inter-operator traffic in Cambodia. The underdeveloped broadband market presents an opportunity that some foreign and local companies are now beginning to explore by acquiring WiMAX licences. As is the case with mobile services, there are a large number of companies that have received licences, some of which may have overlapping spectrum allocations.

The report concludes by reviewing options for effective market entry. M&A activity is on the increase in Cambodia's telecoms market and this appears to be the most effective method of entering the market at present. Greenfield start ups are not now recommended at this stage of the country's development.

Key Topics Covered:

Executive Summary
Cambodia - country background
Telecommunications market
Mobile market
Fixed network market
Options for effective market entry
Annex A - Cambodia's WTO Telecoms Commitments
Annex B - Existing GSM Operator Coverage Charts
Annex C - Benchmarking Cambodia's Mobile Market
Annex D - Fibre optic trunk network coverage
Annex E - Statistical information on Cambodia market

Companies Mentioned:

Millicom

TeliaSonera

Vimplecom
ThaiCom
Axiata
Mobitel
Viettel
Latelz
Telecom Cambodia

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Internet Access Critical Catalyst To Development

Broadband Internet Access Critical Catalyst To Asia-Pacific Development – UN Forum

New York, Jul 29 2009 12:10PM The importance of speedy Internet access to stimulate economic growth across Asia and the Pacific was underlined by participants of a regional United Nations information and communications technology (ICT) gathering that wrapped up in Indonesia today.

Policy-makers, regulators, academics and the private sector representatives attending the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) forum stressed the importance of broadband internet access in leveling the economic playing field for the region, as well as the necessity of global collaboration to ensure the widest possible availability of future services to all users.

“This Asia-Pacific Regional Development Forum underlines the role of broadband as a catalyst for bridging the digital divide and for turning the challenges of today’s economic crisis into new opportunities,” said Sami Al-Basheer, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT).

“Broadband access, through both fixed and wireless infrastructures, will clearly be one of the key focus areas for ICT development in this fast-moving region,” Mr. Al-Basheer told the three-day meeting in Yogyakarta.

ITU Regional Development Forum (RDF) heard that although Japan and the Republic of Korea have broadband penetration rates of 32 per cent and 23 per cent respectively, less developed nations within the region are still struggling to provide basic telephone and Internet access, with less than 1 per cent of the population in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar using the Internet.
ITU organized the Asia-Pacific RDF, which attracted 105 participants from 17 countries, in close collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and the Special Province Area of Yogyakarta.

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Malaria Strain Resists Drugs, May Threaten Millions, Study Says

By Simeon Bennett


July 30 (Bloomberg) -- Malaria is becoming resistant to the most powerful drugs available in Southeast Asia, as the World Health Organization races to stop the spread of the strain that could be “disastrous” for global malaria control.

Treatments derived from artemisinin, the basis of the most effective anti-malaria drugs, took almost twice as long to clear the parasites that cause the disease in patients in western Cambodia as in patients in northwestern Thailand, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The delay in parasite clearance times shows the drugs are losing their power against the disease in Cambodia, the study said. The failure of artemisinin-based treatments would be “disastrous” for global efforts aimed at curbing the death and disease wrought by the malady, said Arjen Dondorp, who led the study at the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit in Bangkok.

“There is no question that this is resistance to artemisinin,” Carlos Campbell, a malaria expert with the Seattle-based Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, or PATH, wrote in an editorial accompanying the study. “History warns us that it will intensify and spread unless containment steps are taken.”

Scientists have known for decades that Pailin, near Cambodia’s border with Thailand, is a breeding ground for drug- resistant malaria. Chloroquine and Roche Holding AG’s Fansidar started to fail there in the 1950s and 1960s, before becoming ineffective elsewhere, according to the study. The WHO, with $23 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is coordinating efforts to prevent artemisinin-resistant malaria from spreading to Africa, which has 90 percent of the world’s cases of the disease.

Delayed Clearance

Delayed parasite clearance times have been observed in southern Cambodia since the study’s completion, a sign the resistant strain has already spread within the country, Dondorp said in a phone interview. Dondorp and colleagues treated 40 people in Pailin and another 40 in Wang Pha in Thailand, with artesunate, a form of artemisinin.

In Pailin, the drug took a median of 84 hours to clear the parasite from patients’ blood, compared with 48 hours, the standard, in Wang Pha, according to the study. After three days, artesunate failed to clear the parasite in 55 percent of patients in Pailin, compared with 8 percent in Wang Pha.

Widespread artemisinin resistance “would cause millions of deaths, without exaggeration,” Dondorp said in an interview in January.

Deadly Disease

Malaria strikes about 250 million people each year and kills more than 880,000, mostly children under 5, according to the WHO. It’s the world’s third-deadliest infectious disease, behind AIDS, which results in about 2 million deaths each year, and tuberculosis, which kills 1.6 million people annually, the Geneva-based WHO said.

Malaria is caused by a tiny parasite called Plasmodium, carried in the saliva of female mosquitoes. When an infected insect bites a person, the bugs travel to the liver, multiply and enter the bloodstream. There they invade red cells, leading to fever, chills, nausea and diarrhea. Unchecked, they cause red cells to stick to the walls of capillaries, slowing blood flow. Sufferers can die from organ failure without treatment.

The latest findings confirm those of earlier, inconclusive studies that suggested artesunate was losing potency in the region. Until now, researchers weren’t sure whether slowing cure rates were due to the failure of artesunate or another less powerful drug, mefloquine, that’s usually given with it.

No Alternative

Campbell noted that there isn’t an alternative class of malaria drugs to replace artemisinin derivatives. Artemisinin- based medications work by giving malaria a short, sharp shock, clearing most of the parasites from the blood within hours. The drawback is they don’t remain in the body. The WHO’s guidelines recommend combining the drug with one of several less-powerful, longer-lasting medicines that eradicate stragglers.

Those other drugs, such as mefloquine, may cause adverse effects including nausea, vomiting and nightmares. When the two drugs are sold side by side, rather than combined in a single pill, some patients take only the artemisinin to avoid unpleasant symptoms, paving the way for relapses and drug resistance.

Counterfeit drugs containing suboptimal amounts of artesunate may also have contributed to the development of the resistant strain, Dondorp said.
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Self-made man channels fortune into charity

Entrepreneur Steve Killelea enjoys all the trappings of wealth - a waterfront house on Sydney's Northern Beaches, a booming business empire, and a European sports car.

Having left school at 16, the 59-year-old is a self-made man.

In his 20s he moved from spending his time surfing into investing in the computer industry - a move that paid massive dividends.

Not one to keep his millions to himself, he is now one of Australia's largest individual foreign aid donors.

"We just felt we wanted to give something back. My goal is to have 50 per cent of my wealth at any one time working towards a charitable means," he said.

Ten years ago Mr Killelea and his wife Debbie set up The Charitable Foundation, donating $5 million a year to more than 60 development projects around the world.

Their charity bankrolls programs in Africa and South East Asia which provide clean water, build medical clinics and schools, rehabilitate child soldiers and perform eye operations.

"About one third of the developing world is blind, 40-50 per cent of that is cataracts," Mr Killelea said.

"For $40 you can give somebody back their eyesight. It doesn't matter if they have been blind for a decade or 20 years, you clean out the cataracts and they can see."

Cambodia is one country which is benefiting from Mr Killelea's generosity. Home to 14 million people, it is one of the poorest nations on Earth.

The World Bank estimates more than a third of Cambodians are living below the poverty line, on about 50 cents a day.

As the capital city Phnom Penh grows, more and more of its residents are being forcibly evicted from their homes.

Mr Killelea is helping to relocate people like these into new houses on the city's outskirts, on land provided by the Cambodian government.

Few donors

His money sponsors the work of Habitat for Humanity, a global charity which provides housing and infrastructure for the world's neediest people.

"We've been working in Cambodia with Habitat for Humanity for six years now - working with minority and poor groups that have been displaced from housing and providing them with loans so that they can build their own houses with cheap interest rates and then pay it back," he said.

Habitat for Humanity international's director in Cambodia, Bernadette Bolo-Duthy, says the entrepreneur's support has allowed the charity to expand its operations in the country.

"In Cambodia there are many NGOs, there are 1,000 NGOs, and there are hundreds of international NGOs doing lots of things, but there are very few donors that are into providing housing infrastructure support to poor people," she said.

Mr Killelea's philanthropy not only takes him to the developing world. He also rubs shoulders at the highest levels with political and business leaders.

Last month he was in London to launch another of his initiatives, the Global Peace Index.

The index is the first to rank nations by their peacefulness, based on a number of criteria including the imprisonment rate, level of violent crime and military expenditure.

It is a cause he is very passionate about.

"Peace is a prerequisite for survival of society as we know it," he said.

"It does have economic benefit for society. It is really quite clear. You can create a bomb and blow a house up or you can build a second house with the same amount of capital."

The index is being embraced by global business as a tool which basically gives peace an economic value.

Mr Killelea is not sure what motivates him to give so much but he does know that practising Buddhism and meditating gives him a focus.

"You stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about others and when you stop thinking about yourself you are actually happier." he said.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Germany injects over $1 mln to Cambodia, Laos for fighting against hunger

Fearing with the continued impact by global economic crisis, the government of Germany has provided another 1.3 million euros (approximately 1.8 million U.S. dollars) to Cambodia and Laos to fight against hunger.

In a statement released Wednesday, German embassy in Phnom Penh said of the above total amount, one million euro was destined for Cambodia which is expected to help assist about one million Cambodians in 2009.

It said the fund was donated through the United Nations agency, World Food Program for its operation in this country.

The fund will help improve immediate food security and nutritional status of the Cambodian people while enhancing social stability through interventions in three priority areas: education, health and nutrition, and disaster risk reduction.

In April, the U.N. Office in Cambodia issued a statement saying the country's positive trends of its economy will be slowdown after it has enjoyed over decade of increase. And less demand from foreign markets and reducing of foreign direct investment have forced a mass of people losing their jobs, such as in garment and construction sectors.

The U.N. data also indicated some 80 percent of Cambodians are living in rural areas, and where many poor families depend upon migrant remittances as their major source of income.

It is, then, citing fear that Cambodia's rural poor might adopt "unhealthy" coping measures such as reducing their number of meals per day or eating less-nutritious foods, and cutting back on health services.

Safety nets in health, education, food, and work can help break the poverty cycle, it added in the statement.

According to the World Food Program, Cambodia might need 76.3 million U.S. dollars for three years project in curbing with people in crisis.

It said the project that began in January 2008 and which is due to last until the end of 2010 has, so far, received 33 million U.S. dollars or bout 43 percent of its appeal, and that Germany has donated 2.3 million U.S. dollars or 3.1 percent of the total donated fund.

Source: Xinhua
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Briton arrested in Cambodia for allegedly abusing girl

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – A British man became the latest suspect in Cambodia's drive to net foreign paedophiles after he was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl, police said Wednesday.

Gareth Ashley Corbett, 51, was arrested at his rented house in the popular seaside town of Sihanoukville on Tuesday, said Suon Sophan, deputy chief of the local anti-trafficking and juvenile police unit.

The arrest of Corbett was made after the underage girl, who was also allegedly abused by a US man, told authorities that the Briton had sex with her, he said.

"The arrest of the Briton was the result of testimony of the girl to police," Suon Sophan told AFP by telephone.

The US man, Scott Alan Hecker, 44, was nabbed last week in a raid on a hotel in Phnom Penh and has been accused of committing indecent acts repeatedly against the girl and and another 14-year-old girl.

Cambodia has struggled to shed its reputation as a haven for paedophiles, putting dozens of foreigners in jail for child sex crimes or deporting them to face trial in their home countries since 2003.
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Cambodia's Crackdown Stirs Concerns About Legal System

By Tim Johnston


BANGKOK -- A heightened crackdown on journalists and opposition activists in recent weeks by Cambodia's leaders has provoked new concern that the government is engaging in widespread abuse of the nation's legal system to muzzle its detractors.

Newspaper editor Hang Chakra is serving a one-year sentence in Phnom Penh's notorious Prey Sar prison for articles that alleged corruption among government officials. Opposition activist Moeung Sonn, who heads the Khmer Civilization Foundation, fled the country last month after being given a two-year sentence because government officials feared unrest when he questioned whether a new lighting system would damage the revered Angkor Wat temple. Last week, a court heard charges against Ho Vann, a member of parliament from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party who is accused of slandering 22 generals by questioning their academic qualifications.

And on Friday, a court is to hand down its verdict in a case against Mu Sochua, another opposition member of parliament, who is accused of defaming Cambodia's authoritarian prime minister, Hun Sen.

"I'm sure I will be found guilty, unless there is some magic in the air, and I don't feel that it is," Mu Sochua said in a telephone interview.

The cases have caused growing concern among human rights activists about Cambodia's legal system, which has long been accused of political bias.

"The Cambodian government is imposing its most serious crackdown on freedom of expression in recent years," Brad Adams, the Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement last week.

The case against Mu Sochua, a mother of three and former minister for women and veterans affairs, has brought the concern to a head because she is the first person to challenge Hun Sen so openly.

In a lawsuit, she accused Hun Sen of calling her "strong leg" -- a term considered derogatory in Khmer culture -- in a speech in early April. When he declined to apologize, she called a news conference and declared that his comment was an insult to all Cambodian women. That provoked a countersuit from Hun Sen. The courts have thrown out her lawsuit, but Hun Sen's is ongoing.

"If he allowed Mu Sochua to challenge him, other people might go down the same path. It is to make sure a second person won't try the same thing in the future," said Son Chhay, another outspoken opposition member of parliament.

Mu Sochua is fighting her legal battle alone. Her attorney withdrew last month after he came under government pressure, provoking a protest from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"The government kept on slamming him with more and more penalties, and he was facing the end of his career," Mu Sochua said. "I am not going to put another lawyer through that torture."

If convicted, she is likely to face a fine of about $2,500. But, more important, she could lose the right to sit in parliament, and that could be Hun Sen's intent, analysts said.

His ruling Cambodian People's Party won 90 of 123 seats in parliament in elections last year, but analysts said Hun Sen could be using the courts to get rid of the opposition.

"He wants to put them out of business," said David Chandler, a history professor at Monash University in Australia. "The whole concept of pluralism hasn't got any roots in Cambodia. The opposition is almost, by definition, disloyal."

Son Chhay said the recent crackdown is a symptom of a government that is failing to address some of the pressing issues facing the country, including corruption, land seizures and economic stagnation.

"Although they control the institutions, they can't allow activists or the opposition to spread the issues -- that could bring disaster. Like many dictatorial regimes in the region, because they are unable to solve the problems, they resort to all measures to control the people and shut them up," Son Chhay said.

The government also is looking to pass a law that would limit demonstrations to 200 people and require permission from authorities.

In the early 1990s, the international community invested about $1.5 billion in a U.N. effort to restore civil government to a country that Hun Sen, a former member of the Khmer Rouge, had run since 1985.

The opposition fears that he is destroying fragile institutions that have taken years to build.

"What is really detrimental to Cambodia as a whole is that because he wants to make a point as a man, he is destroying so much we have invested in nation-building," Mu Sochua said. "It is not me on trial, but the judiciary of Cambodia."
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cambodia: Respect For Suspects' Rights

Cambodia: Respect For Suspects' Rights Will Prevent Death In Police Custody

Five suspects in police custody are known to have died in police custody in different locations in Cambodia over the first five months of this year. There have been allegations that they suffered torture or other forms of ill-treatment. However, the police have refuted these allegations and with medical certification as proof, claimed that the suspects had committed suicide. The reference to medical certification has led to further allegations that doctors whom the authorities called in to do the autopsies were themselves under pressure not to antagonize the police and arrive at a conclusion that did not differ from what the police version. Despite the ongoing suspicion of torture or other forms of ill-treatment the authorities have refused independent investigations into the causes of those deaths.

More recently, another suspect died in police custody in Svay Rieng Province. The suspect, Thong Sary, 54, was arrested in a drunk-driving accident in which he crashed his motorcycle, killing his passenger and injuring himself. His wife, Meas Thavy, visited him and, noting the worsening of his injuries repeatedly requested the custodial officer to send her husband to hospital for treatment. The officer refused her request and instead told her to bring in a doctor to treat him in prison.

Meas Thavy could not get a doctor to treat her husband because he was a suspect and there was no letter of authorization for medical treatment from the police. Dr. Ke Ratha, deputy director of the provincial health department, and a number of his fellow doctors carried out the autopsy on Thong Sary. Dr. Ke Ratha has reportedly said that Thong Sary “died from an inflammation of the stomach or intestine caused by drinking wine without eating, his injury from the traffic accident or if someone hit him.” Dr. Ke Ratha further said that “If he was sent for treatment on time he may not have died.”

Prach Rim, the provincial police chief, has denied allegations of torture on Thong Sary; but has admitted police carelessness over the refusal to send him for medical treatment.

The Asian Human Rights Commission holds that the cause of death of this particular police custody were not due so much to the “police carelessness” as to the shortcoming of the criminal procedure pertaining to police custody. This procedure has not recognized and guaranteed the rights of suspects to medical treatment. Article 99 of the Code of Criminal procedure has left this medical treatment to the discretionary decision to the custody officer and the prosecutor. This article says, “The Royal Prosecutor or the judicial police officer may ask a doctor to examine the detained person at any time.” Furthermore, article 98 of the same code has recognized and guaranteed the rights of suspect to legal counsel only after 24 hours of arrest has expired. It says, “After a period of twenty four hours from the beginning of the police custody has expired, the detainee may request to speak with a lawyer or any other person who is selected by the detainee, provided that the sel.


In order to avoid any future possibility of “police carelessness” and further death in police custody, the Code of Criminal procedure should be amended to recognize and guarantee the rights of suspect to medical treatment, legal counsel and communication with family. Upon the arrest, it should be mandatory for custody officer to notify suspects of all these rights. Article 98 and article 99 should be amended for the custody police officer and be supplemented as follows:

Article 98: At the beginning of that detention, the suspect has to the right to speak with a lawyer or any other person who is selected by him or her, provided that the selected person is not involved in the same offense. He or she has further the right to communicate with his or her family.

Article 99: The suspect has the right to medical treatment anytime during his or her detention.
Article 99 (a): The custody police officer shall notify the suspect of his or her rights as mentioned in article 98 and 99.

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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Rights groups protest Cambodia 'AIDS colony'

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - AIDS campaigners and rights groups protested on Tuesday at Cambodia's shunting of sufferers of the virus into an insanitary "AIDS colony" outside the capital.

Over 100 international and domestic pressure groups told Prime Minister Hun Sen and Health Minister Mam Bunheng in a letter they were "deeply disturbed" by the government's treatment of 40 HIV-affected families.

Over the past two months the government has evicted the families from Phnom Penh to live in metal sheds without running water or adequate sanitation at Tuol Sambo, an area 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the capital, it said.

"By bundling people living with HIV together into second-rate housing, far from medical facilities, support services and jobs, the government has created a de facto AIDS colony," said Shiba Phurailatpam, of the Asia-Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, in a statement issued by the groups.

Rebecca Schleifer of New York-based Human Rights Watch said: "The housing conditions in Tuol Sambo pose serious health risks for families living there.

"People living with HIV have compromised immune systems and are especially vulnerable. For them, these substandard conditions can mean a death sentence or a ticket to a hospital," she added.

The Cambodian government has faced mounting criticism of forced evictions throughout the country at the hands of the army and police, which a recent human rights report said has affected more than 250,000 people.

Evictions for development purposes have increased in Cambodia as land prices have risen over the past few years. Critics say the practice is fuelling poverty.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Halo Group, Inc. Tremendous Growth is Paralleled by Giving Spirit

The Allen-based Halo Group, Inc. (Halo) has been experiencing unprecedented growth over the past several years. The nationwide holding company now has eight subsidiaries within the consumer financial services industry. Ranking number three in the Comerica Bank Collin 60 of the fastest growing companies, Halo continues to be recognized for excellence and achievement in their market space. However, what is not widely known is the commonly held servant attitude and actions that characterize the Halo employee. Those actions include domestic service projects such as post Katrina clean-up efforts to various wellness and service missions to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cambodia, South Africa, and India to name a few. Halo has been in support of such projects from the beginning. “It falls in line with Halo’s mission to serve and stand above reproach. Halo’s mission as a company has always been to serve the American consumer in financial distress and offer solutions to strengthen the economy. It stands to reason that we as individuals enjoy serving outside the walls of Halo as well,” states Jimmy Mauldin, chief strategy officer at Halo Group, Inc.

One such employee is Neelka Smith, executive assistant at Halo Group, Inc., who has spent over 18 years involved in missions, having lived in 45 countries during that time including Central Asia, India, China, Angola, North Korea, and Guatemala. Today she continues to serve as a project director for Team Mania Global Expedition, a position she has held now for nine years. She is currently heading up a food factory initiative that will bring 250,000 meals a day to underserved countries. Neelka began her mission work while in college using summers to do work abroad in refugee camps in Nepal and Buton through Global Christian Network. Her heart has always been for young people and works locally, as well as, abroad as a child advocate working to put a stop to child prostitution. “Halo offers me the flexibility and the support that allows me to fulfill my commitment to serve others,” adds Neelka.

Another good example is Jeffrey Rasco, vice president of government relations & compliance at Halo Group, Inc., who spent eight days in Nicaragua to work with an orphanage providing facility and land maintenance, and much needed care to the community of children. “In addition to serving the financially-distressed American consumer, the culture at Halo also allows me to take time away from the office to serve those with even greater needs. Working with a group of orphans in Nicaragua for a week makes you realize how truly blessed we are as Americans, and brings a greater sense of purpose to my work, both here at home and abroad,” offers Jeffrey.

Throughout the year, there are many others serving locally and nationally through churches and shelters. Jonathan Whitt, operations assistant at Halo Group, Inc., enjoys serving through his church in the Dallas area, as well as abroad. He has made several trips to Mexico and is currently raising money for a trip to Cambodia this winter. The wellness mission to Cambodia will include teaching English and providing preventative healthcare to improve quality of life. Brianne DeVries, a receptionist at Halo Group, Inc., works with the homeless in Dallas serving locally in shelters and running clothing drives. “The character of the employees we hire is a real consideration in the interview process,” states Derek Stringer, executive vice president at Halo Group, Inc. “Halo believes in the integrity of its employees and the work that they do both corporately and in acts of service.”

About Halo Group, Inc.


Halo Group, Inc. is a nationwide holding company based in Allen, TX with subsidiaries operating primarily in the consumer financial services industries including debt, mortgage, real estate, credit, loan modification, and insurance. For more information about Halo Group, Inc., visit www.myhalogroup.com.
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AAA Network channels launched in Taiwan

AETN All Asia Networks (AAA Networks), a joint venture of A&E Television Networks and ASTRO All Asia Entertainment Networks Limited, have announced the launch of its channels in Taiwan with four key Multiple System Operators (MSOs): TBC, kbro, CNS and TFN Media.

AAA Networks’ portfolio of four factual channels – HISTORY HD, HISTORY, The Biography Channel (BIO), and Crime & Investigation Network (CI) – have recently launched on both TBC and kbro’s digital platforms; while CNS and TFN Media will soon debut HISTORY HD, a 100 percent HD content channel.

Louis Boswell, General Manager, AAA Networks, said, “Taiwan is such an important pay TV market, it is unthinkable not to have our channels available there. We believe the Taiwan cable TV industry has developed extensively and the digital revolution is underway. We are pleased to offer our channels on the digital platforms of the four key MSOs. Taiwan viewers can now enjoy more in-depth, high quality factual entertainment programmes than ever before.”

All four channels are fully subtitled with traditional Chinese. Boswell continued "Subtitling is only the first step; as in every market we will continue to focus our efforts on the localisation of content through acquisition and production."

AETN All Asia Networks launched in June 2007 with HISTORY and CI. In just two years, the company’s channel portfolio has grown to include BIO and HISTORY HD. Distribution now covers Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Macau, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
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Cambodia: ‘AIDS Colony’ Violates Rights

Source: Human Rights Watch


Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.
The Cambodian government should urgently address dangerous conditions in a de facto AIDS colony it has created and immediately stop sending HIV-affected families there, more than 100 international HIV/AIDS and social justice organizations and experts said in a joint letter delivered on July 27, 2009 to Cambodia's prime minister and health minister.

In June 2009, the Cambodian government forcibly relocated 20 HIV-affected families living in Borei Keila, a housing development in Phnom Penh, to substandard housing at Tuol Sambo, a remote site 25 kilometers from the city. Another 20 families were moved there on July 23. The families were resettled into crude, green metal sheds that are baking hot in the daytime and lack running water and adequate sanitation. Just meters away, higher-quality brick housing is being built, with the assistance of a nonprofit group, for other homeless families slated for resettlement at Tuol Sambo. Even before the HIV-affected families were resettled at the site, local people referred to the green sheds as "the AIDS village."

"By bundling people living with HIV together into second-rate housing, far from medical facilities, support services, and jobs, the government has created a de facto AIDS colony," said Shiba Phurailatpam of the Asia-Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. "It's hard to understand how a government that has received international recognition for its HIV-prevention efforts could so callously ignore the basic rights of people living with HIV."

Dozens of organizations and individuals based in the Asia-Pacific region signed the letter, joined by groups and individuals from many nations, ranging from Canada and the United States to India and Tanzania.

The letter stresses that conditions at Tuol Sambo do not meet minimum international standards for even temporary emergency housing. The shelters are flanked by open sewers, with only one public well for all of the relocated families. They are crowded into the poorly ventilated metal sheds, where the afternoon heat is so intense they often cannot remain in their rooms, and they fear their antiretroviral (ARV) medication will deteriorate.

"The housing conditions in Tuol Sambo pose serious health risks for families living there," said Rebecca Schleifer, health and human rights advocate at Human Rights Watch. "People living with HIV have compromised immune systems and are especially vulnerable. For them, these substandard conditions can mean a death sentence or a ticket to a hospital."

The organizations also expressed deep concern about discrimination against HIV-affected families in the screening and allocation process for on-site replacement housing being built at Borei Keila. After two years of denying eligibility to HIV-affected families for this housing, the authorities have now said that at least 11 HIV-affected families previously slated to be sent to Tuol Sambo are in fact eligible. Those families remain at Borei Keila, but are still waiting for the housing they have been promised.

Increasing property values in Cambodia's capital city have left thousands of urban poor people vulnerable to forced evictions to make way for commercial development. The development of the Borei Keila site was approved in 2003 with the understanding that the developer would build new housing on site for those displaced by the project. With few exceptions, however, the HIV-affected families thus far displaced have not even been screened for eligibility for this housing.

When living at Borei Keila, these people worked as day laborers, motorcycle taxi drivers, cleaners, and seamstresses. Now, most have no prospects of work at or near Tuol Sambo. Their economic situation is worsened by the fact that a return trip to Phnom Penh to go to work or to visit hospitals costs the equivalent of about US$5 - for families who earn only $1.50 to $3 a day.

"The Cambodian government needs to establish a fair and open process for all to receive the housing and services they need," said Kevin Moody of The Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+). "People living with HIV - like all others - need adequate living conditions that do not threaten their health and a way to earn a livelihood, so that they can provide for themselves and their families. Grouping families affected by HIV in this way exposes them to further stigma and discrimination; steps must be taken to end this discrimination now."
The groups called on the Cambodian government to:

Cease moving HIV-affected families to the Tuol Sambo site;

  • Improve conditions at Tuol Sambo to meet minimum standards for adequate shelter, sanitation, and clean water;
  • Ensure full access to quality medical services, including antiretroviral treatment, treatment of opportunistic infections, primary health care and home-based care;
  • Work with relevant agencies and consult with the families already at Tuol Sambo to address immediate and long-term concerns regarding housing, health, safety, and employment, and reintegration into society in a manner that protects their rights and livelihoods; and
  • Employ a transparent and fair screening process to determine eligibility for on-site housing at Borei Keila, and allow eligible families to move in immediately (including the 11 HIV-affected families already approved). For those found ineligible, authorities should provide other adequate housing.

"Living with HIV with dignity means more than just ARVs," said Aditi Sharma of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. "It means these families should have a healthy environment with adequate nutrition, proper sanitation and a continuum of care that addresses the social, psychological, legal, and economic consequences of living with HIV."

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rash of lawsuits sees Cambodia crack down on dissenters

By Tim Johnston in Bangkok


Asia is no stranger to governments using the courts to muzzle their detractors, but the Cambodian government's current legal attack on its opponents is causing concern in the region.

Hang Chakra, former editor of the Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, is sharing a cell with 50 other convicts in Phnom Penh's notorious Prey Sar prison, serving a one-year sentence for articles that alleged corruption among government officials.

Moeung Sonn, head of the Khmer Cultural Civilisation Foundation, was last month sentenced to two years in jail in absentia for "disinformation" after suggesting that a new lighting system at the Angkor Wat temple complex might damage the 600-year-old buildings.

And on Friday, a court is to hand down its verdict in a case against Mu Sochua, an opposition parliamentarian accused of defamation against Hun Sen, Cambodia's prime minister.

"I'm sure I will be found guilty unless there is some magic in the air, and I don't feel that there is," she said yesterday.

"The Cambodian government is imposing its most serious crackdown on freedom of expression in recent years," Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said last week.

The case against Mu Sochua, a former minister for women and veteran's affairs, is based on her allegation that Hun Sen called her "strong leg" - a cutting insult in Khmer culture - in a speech in her constituency in early April. When he declined to apologise, she called a press conference in which she alleged that not just herself, but all Cambodian women had been insulted.

That allegation provoked a counter-suit from Hun Sen. The courts threw out her case but agreed to hear Hun Sen's complaint.

Her lawyer withdrew after he came under pressure, provoking a protest from the office of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Mu Sochua declined to find a different attorney. "I am not going to put another lawyer through that torture," she said.

If she is found guilty, she will face a fine of about $2,500 (€1,760, £1,520). More importantly, she could lose the right to sit in parliament. Some analysts say that might be Hun Sen's intention.
"The concept of pluralism hasn't got any roots in Cambodia," said David Chandler, a professor of history at Monash University in Australia. "The opposition is almost by definition disloyal."

Son Chhay, another outspoken opposition parliamentarian, says the recent crackdown is a symptom of a government that is trying to address the issues facing the country, such as corruption, land seizures and economic stagnation.

"Like many dictatorial regimes in the region, because they are unable to solve the problems, they resort to measures to control the people and shut them up," he said.

"If he allowed Mu Sochua to challenge him, other people might go down the same path," said Son Chhay.

In the early 1990s, the international community invested some $1.5bn in a UN operation to restore civil government to a country that Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge cadre, had run since 1985.

The opposition fears the prime minister is using his parliamentary majority - the CPP won 90 of the 123 seats in parliament in elections last year - to destroy fragile institutions that have taken years to build.

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Cambodian cases intensify concern

By Tim Johnston


Cambodia's government is under fire because of its legal attack on opponents. Hang Chakra, former editor of the Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, shares a cell with 50 other convicts in Phnom Penh's notorious Prey Sar prison, serving a one-year sentence for articles that alleged corruption among government officials.

Moeung Sonn, head of the Khmer Cultural Civilisation Foundation, was last month sentenced to two years in jail in absentia for "disinformation" after suggesting a new lighting system at the Angkor Wat temple complex might damage the 600-year-old buildings.

On Friday, a court is to hand down its verdict in a case against Mu Sochua, an opposition parliamentarian accused of defamation against Hun Sen, Cambodia's prime minister. "I'm sure I will be found guilty unless there is some magic in the air - and I don't feel that there is," she said.
"The . . . government is imposing its most serious crackdown on freedom of expression in recent years," said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch.


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Exchange Programme For Cambodian Legal Officers

SHAH ALAM, The Asean Law Association of Malaysia will organise an exchange programme for eight officers of the Cambodian Justice Ministry with the objective of providing better understanding of Malaysia's law and legal system.

"The pilot project is also to promote cooperation and solidarity among members of the legal profession between Malaysia and Cambodia," said S. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Standing Committee on Asean Students Exchange Programme, Asean Law Association of Malaysia.

The programme is organised with the support and assistance from Cambodian Ambassador to Malaysia Princess Norodom Arunrasmy and staff of the Cambodian embassy.

Radhakrishnan said Cambodia was the first country in the Asean region to be invited to join the programme which will take place on Aug 2-8.

"The eight officers will be attached to four legal firms throughout the programme," he told Bernama.

He said the Asean Law Association of Malaysia would consider extending the programme to other Asean countries based on the evaluation and feedback upon the completion of the pilot project.

Chief Justice Tan Sri Zaki Azmi, who is also the Asean Law Association of Malaysia president, is scheduled to launch the programme at the Royal Selangor Club, Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur on Aug 3.

Ambassadors and high commissioners from the Asean countries are expected to attend the function.

The Asean Law Association of Malaysia, established in 1980, is the Malaysian chapter of the regional organisation known as the Asean Law Association (ALA).

The primary objective of ALA is to promote greater cooperation and better understanding among members of the legal profession in the Asean region.

The secretariat of the regional body is in Bangkok, Thailand.

-- BERNAMA
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Vietnam invests 200 mln USD on Cambodian Air, banking

PHNOM PENH, A signing ceremony was held on Sunday by Cambodia and Vietnam on the establishment of Cambodian Air Carrier which was a joint venture between Vietnam Airline and National Cambodia Air Carrier namely Cambodia Angkor Air.

"Vietnamese side has invested 100 million U.S. dollars capital in Cambodia Angkor air," Sok An, deputy prime minister and minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, said at the signing ceremony which was presided over by Prime Minister Hun Senand visiting Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong, who is also representative of the prime minister of Vietnam.
"Cambodia will have 51 percent share and Vietnamese side controls 49 percent," Sok An said, adding that the Cambodian new airline will help to push the tourism sector in the Kingdom while the world has met with global economic and financial crisis. The Vietnamese investment on Cambodia Angkor Air will be processed for30 years, Sok An said.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has also invested another 100 million U.S. dollars to open the Bank for Development and Investment of Vietnamand Insurance sector in Cambodia.

This investment has showed the confidence from Vietnamese side on the economic growth of Cambodia, Sok An said, adding that it is the pride of the country that we have our own national flag in aircarrier. He stressed that the new airline we will launch the official flight tomorrow.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the ceremony that "I would like to urge the new Cambodia Angkor Air to strengthen the management on safety and security for all travelers".

Additionally, Thong Khong, Cambodian Tourism Minister told reporters that tourism is one of the key sector in the country and"this year we expected to have two to three percent increase on this sector." For the first six month of this year, the tourism sector decreased about one percent across the country, however, incapital Phnom Penh it has increased 14 to 16 percent so far.

Last year, Cambodia achieved about two million of the foreign tourists.

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Cambodia A/H1N1 flu case rises to 17

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia's confirmed A/H1N1 flucases have increased to 17 and the latest case is a 22-year-old Irish woman who traveled from Vietnam, health officials said here on Sunday.

"So far, nobody has died in the country," said Ly Sovan, deputydirector of the communicable disease control department. The latest person is in a stable condition and is recovering well.

Mom Bun Heng, Cambodian health minister, told reporters that his ministry has strengthened the tracking system at two main airports, Phnom Penh International Airport and Siem Reap International Airport by using thermal scanners.

"Our officials also have been observing the travelers coming into the country through border gates," he added. Earlier this week, Cambodian Health Ministry issued a call to appeal people notto travel to neighboring Thailand if they were not in urgent need.

Cambodia's first case of influenza A/H1N1 was confirmed on June23, 2009.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

China plans ethanol plant in Cambodia.

AN official at Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says China National Petroleum Corporation is looking to invest US 58 million dollars in an ethanol plant that would use cassava as its raw material to generate fuel.

CNPC is China's largest oil and gas producer and this project would be funded by a Chinese government loan.

The official told the Phnom Penh Post no decision has been taken as the factory would require 40 million to 50 million tonnes of cassava annually, about 15 times current domestic production.

Wishing to remain anonymous, the official says the project would require a huge amount of land, and with concessions a contentious issue, the ministry needs to confer with other ministries.

Cambodian law states that a land concession cannot be larger than 10,000 hectares.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Fake and Substandard Drugs Threaten Malaria Treatment in Cambodia

TASANH, Cambodia A stream of poor-quality and counterfeit malaria drugs coming into Cambodia is contributing to a growing resistance to treatment for the disease near the Thai-Cambodian border.

Many of the drugs are cheaply made and don't contain the right chemistry, or are stored at incorrect temperatures, while others are deliberate fakes that have authentic-looking pills and packaging but contain only a small percentage of the active ingredient in each pill.

People in Cambodia are unknowingly using "improper drugs and fake drugs which create resistance," Duong Socheat, director of the nation's malaria control program said. The problem is fueled by the country's many informal pharmacies and merchants that don't have the proper training to provide the correct drug regimen, he said.

Of the drugs the country has confiscated, most were traced to China and Thailand, according to Socheat. India is also known to be a large manufacturer of counterfeit and substandard drugs.

There have been some attempts to crack down on the lucrative industry, such as putting in place greater penalties for counterfeiting, but without much effect, said Roger Bate, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute who researches counterfeit drugs.

"They do not regulate -- and cannot regulate -- things as well as the U.S. or Europe. It's not that they don't want to but they have a massive counterfeit problem and they don't have the money," Bate said.

Fake and substandard drugs of all kinds are a problem around the world, but the scale is difficult to gauge. The World Health Organization estimates that as much as 25 percent of the drugs sold in the developing world are counterfeit. A 2009 report from the International Policy Network found that fake tuberculosis and malaria drugs alone may kill about 700,000 people a year.

In Cambodia, the risks extend even beyond loss of life because the area of western Cambodia near the Thai border has historically been at the heart of development of resistance to antimalarials. Resistance to chloroquine surfaced there in the 1970s, followed by resistance to sulfadoxinepyrimethamine and mefloquine.

Recently, two independent studies carried out in western Cambodia found that early stages of resistance is developing for artemisinin, now considered the first-line treatment for malaria.

Being exposed to low levels, or incorrect dosing of a medication can help grow resistance. A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene found that 68 percent of anti-malaria drugs found in Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia did not contain the correct amount of active ingredient.

Use of monotherapies can also breed resistance, leading to a World Health Organization ultimatum for artemisinin to only be produced and sold as part of combination therapy, called ACT. However artemisinin monotherapy, a fraction of the price of the combination therapy, has continued to be produced and sold as a cheaper alternative.

In Thasanh, Cambodia, the site of U.S.-funded resistance trials, researchers say patients have brought in a wide range of medications. Some are monotherapies, some are clearly just "fever packs," plastic baggies filled with a variety of pills not really intended for malaria, while others appear to be ACT but may not be the real thing.

In an effort to provide access to good quality malaria medications, and also decrease manufacture of fakes, monotherapies and cheaply made medications, the Global Fund and international partners are launching a $225 million program called the Affordable Medicines Facility - malaria, known as AMFm.

The program aims to flood pilot countries with cheap, high-quality malaria medications to reduce the use of improper or fake medications by patients, and to make the market less desirable for producers of the products.

"If there is an economic incentive for illegal production of a product in all likelihood it will happen," said Dr. Olusoji Adeyi, director of AMFm at the Global Fund.

"So by introducing into the market high quality drugs at rock bottom prices it will reduce the economic incentive for the producers and marketers of fake drugs."

Cambodia is the only non-African country among the 11 invited to participate, and was included because of its history with development of drug resistance, said Adeyi.

Once approved, each country will decide how to implement the program through the public and private sectors. If the drugs are not offered for free to the public by the country, they will be available for a small amount of money said Adeyi.

By negotiating with the manufacturers of ACT and subsidizing the cost of the medicine, AMFm would reduce the cost of ACT treatment for the buyer from about $6 to $10 down to 20 to 50 cents.

The group is moving quickly to start the pilot programs and is aiming to begin distribution in early 2010. But not everyone is convinced the scheme will work.

"I like the idea in principle but I have gone on the record as against it in practice as it currently stands," Bate said. There is not yet a complete understanding of how this intervention will affect the market in each country, he argues.

The United States has also not backed the plan yet, citing a lack of data showing the subsidies will work once implemented.

Adeyi counters that time is short and the pilot program is a smart way to move forward before any attempt at a larger roll out.

"As of today, collectively the global health community has tried many things to achieve universal access to malaria medication and collectively we have not succeeded," he said.

"If we stay on this track we will lose artemisinin [to drug resistance] ...we need to have open minds to a new approach."
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Cambodian PM calls for peaceful border with Thailand

PHNOM PENH, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia and Thailand should try to prevent armed conflicts and to secure a border of peace, security and development, the official news agency AKP (Agency Kampuchea Presse)reported on Friday.

Hun Sen made the remarks when he met with visiting Thai Parliament President and speaker of the House of Representatives Chai Chid Chob on Thursday. The premier stressed that "any dispute could have negative impacts on Cambodia-Thailand trade," according to Ieng Sophalet, assistant to the premier.

Meanwhile, Chai Chid Chob asked Hun Sen to help maintaining good relationship between Cambodia and Thailand and praised him for his right decision to reduce tension between the two neighboring countries.

On the same day, Chai held talks with Cambodian National Assembly President Heng Samrin. During the meeting, Heng Samrin asked once again the Thai Parliament to push the Thai government to accelerate the negotiations by using bilateral existing mechanisms and to withdraw its troops from the Preah Vihear Temple's area.

According to Koam Kosal, cabinet chief and assistant to Heng Samrin, Chai affirmed to bring these recommendations to the Thai government.

During his meeting with Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim, Chai Chid Chob shared the same idea with Chea Sim, especially withCambodia's stance to solve the border dispute peacefully and to avoid confrontations, Pheng Kunthea Borey, head of protocol of Chea Sim, told reporters after the talks.

The delegation of Thai Parliament arrived here on Thursday for a two-day official visit. It was also granted an audience by His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia on Friday.
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Cambodia’s child prostitutes need help

When Shari Newman of Lake Oswego made her first trip to Cambodia three years ago to investigate child sex trafficking, she was stunned by what she found.

“It was really emotional. It was so unbelievable,” Newman said. “I actually saw brothels and poverty. At the trauma recovery center there were little girls 3-feet tall and 5 years old holding my hand. They had been prostitutes. It was very taxing, emotional and heart wrenching.

“I’ve done a lot of mission trips, and that was the hardest one I’ve ever done. Other places you came away with a plan of action. There, you ask, ‘How can you do it?’”

What seemed hopeless in 2006, however, has a spark of hope in 2009. While the statistics on child sex trafficking in Cambodia are still overwhelming, young girls are being helped to recover from criminal abuse and awareness is spreading.

You could see how much at the “Children: Not for Sale” conference on July 7 at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church. A capacity audience of 120 people was on hand to hear Haiday Ear-Dupuy, advocacy and communications manager for World Vision Cambodia, talk about a problem that is so shocking when people hear about it for the first time: Cambodian girls being turned into sex slaves.

The statistics faced by Ear-Dupuy and her World Vision colleagues are these: 5 million Cambodians are trafficked in sex and labor.

A native of Cambodia who had barely managed to escape the genocidal reign of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, Ear-Dupuy’s decision to return to Cambodia to work for World Vision seemed unbelievable to many people. Especially her parents.

“They said, ‘We took you out of the lions’ den. Now you’re going back in,’” Ear-Dupuy said. “I explained to them why it’s important that I am in Cambodia. Once I started, it became very personal.

“It was like I was looking at my own face in the face of every child I met.”

True, Cambodia is no longer racked by war. But it is plagued by extreme poverty, an ever-widening gap between the rich and poor, a huge HIV/AIDS rate, severe social justice issues and an economy that is sinking.

Selling sex is one way to make dollars in Cambodia. “Sex tourists” from all over the world, especially the U.S. and Asia, come looking for young girls.


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A Humane Trade Reform

By Michael Gerson


There was a time when international trade was the subject of poetry. In "Locksley Hall," Alfred Tennyson "[s]aw the heavens filled with commerce, argosies of magic sails/Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales."

Recently, however, trade has inspired more resentment than verse. During a recession, the threat of foreign competition can seem more real and present than the opportunities of foreign markets. According to the World Trade Organization, 30 countries have imposed trade-restricting measures since the onset of the economic crisis. China included a "Buy Chinese" provision in its stimulus package. The U.S. Congress has variously threatened to impose tariffs as an instrument of climate policy, limited bailed-out banks in hiring foreign workers and encouraged states receiving stimulus funds to "Buy American."

All this is politically understandable -- and economically insane. With the world experiencing the largest drop in trade volumes since World War II, actions that restrict global trade will delay global recovery. Protectionism is economically self-destructive: Won't American companies eventually want to compete for contracts in India and China? Protectionism is diplomatically self-defeating: Do we really want to pick trade fights with our closest friends, such as Canada and Mexico? Protectionism is outdated: The distinction between foreign and domestic companies is blurred when many use transnational supply chains. And protectionism is unjust: The world's poorest countries are often the most dependent on exports.

Fortunately, after a fling with union-pleasing protectionism during his campaign, President Obama has largely adopted the pro-trade consensus of his predecessors. He has signaled support for bilateral trade agreements with South Korea and Panama, and openness to a pact with Colombia. At the recent Group of Eight meeting in Italy, he joined other leaders in calling for the conclusion of a global trade deal in 2010 to comprehensively reduce tariffs and quotas.

Unfortunately, grand goals are the cynical staple of summits. Completing the global trade negotiations begun in Doha in 2001 will require developing countries such as China and India to open their manufacturing and service sectors, and the United States and Europe to dramatically reduce agricultural subsidies and barriers. And it will require Obama not merely to acknowledge the need for trade but also to press the arguments for trade on Capitol Hill and within his party.

All of this is unlikely (though not impossible). But even in the absence of a global trade agreement, America has a responsibility to fix its tariff system -- a system that often punishes the poor.

Current law is supposed to allow developing nations to export duty-free into U.S. markets. In practice, however, restrictions and limits are placed on imported clothing, textiles, footwear and agricultural products -- which are exactly the kind of labor-intensive products that many poor nations produce best. So American tariffs effectively single out the poorest nations for the highest international taxes. On average, these countries pay more than three times the tariff rates of our richest trading partners.

One example: According to the Center for Global Development, Cambodia and Bangladesh pay about the same total tariffs to America as do France and Britain -- even though those European countries export about 15 times more to the United States. And in 2006, America collected about $850 million in tariffs from Cambodia and Bangladesh, mainly on imported apparel -- which is about seven times more than we provided in foreign assistance to those impoverished countries.

How to change the system? Kimberly Ann Elliott, a senior fellow at the center, recommends that Congress provide 100 percent duty-free, quota-free access to American markets for 70 of the most vulnerable countries on Earth -- ending the discrimination against products produced by the world's poor.

There are good humanitarian reasons for this reform, which would help nations suffering from a global recession they did nothing to cause. There are national security justifications: America has a direct interest in promoting economic growth and stability in parts of the world otherwise prone to terrorism, criminal gangs and epidemic diseases.

And there is a domestic economic argument. The very products produced by the poor abroad -- clothing, shoes, food -- are necessities for the poor at home. Our current tariff system is a regressive tax on these goods.

The cost of this reform to American manufacturers would be minimal -- even under Elliott's proposal, less than 2 percent of American imports would come from the countries granted duty-free, quota-free access. But the effect in those nations could be large. Even if international trade is no longer cause for poetry, it is cause for hope.
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Change of name for SAO Cambodia

SAO Cambodia, born at the Keswick Convention as a result of an impassioned plea by a man later to be martyred under Pol Pot, is focusing more clearly on its task with a new name – Cambodia Action.

This follows the realisation that the name needs to shout out for Cambodia and for the mission’s ongoing active role there.

In 1973 Keswick delegates heard a heartfelt plea from Taing Chhirc for British Christians to rise to the challenge of supporting the young, struggling church in Cambodia. And as a result of this appeal, SAO Cambodia was formed.

Tragically, Chhirc returned to church leadership in Phnom Penh the following year and was among thousands killed when the Khmer Rouge took the country back to ‘year zero’ in 1975.
SAO Cambodia is a mission agency dedicated to help the church and rejuvenate this once rich and plentiful nation back to recovery. In innovative and effective ways, it encourages communities to be self-sustaining.

Since 1990, the mission has had a significant input among local groups, improving their spiritual, social and physical well-being. Working with the local church and other partners, it is committed to see the nation fully restored.

Cambodia Action hosted a reception at the Keswick Convention this year to mark this further significant step. Rev John Wallis, a trustee of Cambodia Action commented: “There are so many opportunities to continue to meet the challenge from Chhirc Taing. We want to partner with others to achieve strong biblical leadership in the Cambodian Church.”

Jonathan Lamb of Langham Preaching said: “We are looking forward to working with Cambodia Action and Cambodian church leaders to establish ongoing training and support for pastors and lay preachers.”
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

US in key environment meeting with Mekong countries

PHUKET, Thailand — The United States held an unprecedented meeting Thursday with countries from the lower Mekong basin in what Washington said showed its commitment to combating climate change in Asia.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the foreign ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam in the Thai island of Phuket during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum.

Each country in the meetings pledged to set up working teams to discuss further cooperation on water resources, education and human resources development, Thai foreign ministry spokeswoman Vimon Kidchob said.

Low-lying areas around the Mekong, Southeast Asia's largest river, are considered some of the world's most vulnerable to climate change and there is concern over pollution levels in the water.
During their meeting, the five nations pledged to hold annual ministerial meetings to discuss progress.

"The US told Mekong countries it has had similar environmental problems with the Mississippi river, which resulted from natural and man-made causes," Vimon told reporters.

On Wednesday, Clinton said the meeting would discuss "our shared interests and our emerging partnership on issues related to water, health and the environment".

She also announced the US administration's "commitment to deepen our engagement in Asia on the critical issue of climate change".

They had asked Congress for a seven-fold increase in funding for climate change aid in the region, she said.

The Mekong is a vital source of protein for 60 million people who live along its lower basin and is the world's largest inland fishery.

The WWF said in June that pollution in the Mekong has pushed freshwater dolphins in Cambodia and Laos to the brink of extinction, sparking a furious Cambodian government denial.

The conservation group, which is investigating how environmental contaminants got into the Mekong, said it suspected that high levels of mercury found in some dead dolphins came from gold mining activities.

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Pinoy missionary preaches condom use in Cambodia

By David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS


CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Filipino lay worker Arturo Ang has a mission in Cambodia - to help impoverished HIV sufferers in the country rebuild their lives as they suffer the ravages of the deadly disease.

To do that, Ang has resorted to both conventional and unconventional means. His program, Bridges of Hope, teaches HIV sufferers all about the usual modes of transmission of HIV and how to prevent it such as abstinence and being faithful to one partner.

He also teaches Cambodians to use condoms, a practice which may seem taboo to Catholic lay missionaries.

"The stand of our organization, of Maryknoll, which is a Catholic organization, is that we don't distribute condoms but our NGO gives education to people so we teach people about condoms for safe sex. Our program does have an element of family planning but it's more about positive prevention. We teach the ABCs of safe sex, which are abstinence, be faithful and condoms," he told abs-cbnNEWS.com

"We don't deny the people information about artificial family planning. We tell them where to get it and we teach them why it is important," he added.

The Philippine Catholic Lay Mission (PCLM) is a lay mission recognized by the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines'. It was founded by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in 1977, an American missionary group in the United States.

PCLM traces its beginnings to the Maryknoll’s missionary charism and the growth of small Christian communities in the then Prelature of Tagum in Davao in the 1960s. The Maryknoll evolved a program for small Christian communities in the Tagum prelature, and as the communities matured, it became a natural consequence for them to become missionary by helping neighboring villages, parishes and dioceses form small Christian communities.

Ang, a native of Davao City, said the primary goal of the PCLM is to recruit, train and send missionaries to establish small Christian communities. After serving in the PCLM for several years in Davao, the Maryknoll order invited him and two others to go to Cambodia where the need for mission work was great.

Ang and two other lay missionaries arrived in Cambodia in late 2003 and immediately started work on helping HIV sufferers in the country. At the time, Cambodia had the highest HIV prevalence in Southeast Asia. The mode of transmission was usually through heterosexual transmission mostly through sex workers and husbands passing it on to their wives.

He said many of the HIV sufferers they helped during the early days of the Bridges of Hope project in Phnom Penh were sex workers and widows.

"Because of ignorance, a lot of these AIDS sufferers go to Phnom Penh to seek treatment. They sell their property to seek treatment. Maryknoll gives them care, we visit them in their homes and we also have a halfway house where they could stay and get food," he said.

He said the Cambodian government started giving anti-retroviral drugs to HIV patients in 2002. This led to a lot of formerly sick HIV patients finally getting well enough to work but not having jobs.

Ang said more than 500 HIV sufferers have "graduated" from the Bridges of Hope program since it launched more than five years ago. All of the graduates are Buddhists.

"Cambodia is a Buddhist country. The way of doing mission work in Cambodia is by helping the poorest of the poor and uplifting the dignity of the human being. We don't preach or proselytize. We only want to help them and uplift their status. Once they start earning an income, they are no longer in the program because they have the ability to take care of themselves and we can accept more people. All of them are Buddhists and we do not convert them," he said.

Ang said he finds satisfaction in the knowledge that they are finally changing the HIV situation in Cambodia.

"When I first arrived, people with HIV were just dying in the hospitals, mostly due to infections and other AIDS-related illnesses. There were no medicines. Now they still die because of illnesses but in a sense, it is getting better. They live longer because the Cambodian government did a good job rolling out ART for HIV patients. Unfortunately these people are still poor so the socioeconomic aspect of the illness still needs work," he said.

He also denies that teaching contraceptive use is a betrayal of Catholic teaching.

"Personally for me it is not a betrayal of my religion. People are dying so how do you protect them? Of course we teach them to abstain or be faithful but if you have a husband who is already infected and the wife is not infected, how can they have sex if they don't have protection? You cannot risk infecting your spouse with HIV just because the Church doesn't allow condoms," he said.

Instead of dictating what people should or should not do, Ang said people should be given all the information they need and let them decide their conscience.

He also said the Philippines should be more pro-active in curbing HIV despite the low HIV prevalence in the country.

"Remember, Filipinos are going out of the country and we also have a problem with prostitution. It's possible that there are still many people in the country who are HIV positive who don't know it yet because they haven't been tested. We need to be more proactive and do more on HIV testing and prevention," he said.

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Philippines alarmed over growing number of 'drug mules'

Manila - The Philippine government on Thursday warned Filipino women against international drug syndicates that trick women into becoming unsuspecting "drug mules" to transport narcotics in Vietnam, Cambodia and China. The Department of Foreign Affairs said it received a report from the Philippine embassy in Hanoi about a growing number of Filipino women being used as couriers in the drug trade in the Indo-China region.

According to the embassy report, international drug syndicates recruit Filipino women by enticing them with a job offer that involves a lot of travel and pays 2,000 dollars per trip - a huge salary by Philippine standards.

Their contact buys plane tickets for them from the Philippines to China via Vietnam, the report said.

"The contact, now supposedly a benefactor, asks the Filipino a favour which involves bringing to China a present or an item from a friend based in Cambodia," it added. "The unsuspecting Filipino, thinking that she is doing her benefactor a favour,

From Vietnam, the victims usually travel to Cambodia by bus to pick up the items they will carry and return to Hanoi for their flights to China.

"The victims were banking on the job promised them in China, and for them, bringing personal items to China for their benefactor is just a small favour in exchange for the job," the Embassy said.

The embassy discovered the scheme when a Filipino woman sought assistance after she was stranded in Vietnam for failing to bring the package she was supposed to deliver to China for a Nigerian drug syndicate.

"The Nigerian contact in Cambodia had a miscommunication with the Filipino and the Nigerian contact in China," the embassy said.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, 111 Filipinos, mostly women, were arrested for drug-related offences in China, Hong Kong and Macau in 2008. The figure was up from 16 Filipinos arrested in 2007.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cambodia, Thailand: ilovethailand website sparks controversy

By Global Voices Online

The recently launched website ilovethailand.org is causing a stir online. Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced that the website is intended to restore the country’s image and unify the nation in light of recent unrest. The controversy stems from the website’s claims about Thailand’s “lost territory” — territory that is present day Cambodia.

KI Media reports:

The major English daily Phnom Penh Post reported that Cambodian officials are scurrying to investigate the claims. It quoted Mr. Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, as saying that “they (the Thai) are twisting the facts of history
. It is completely exaggerated.”

According to Phnom Penh Post, in 1794, Thailand – then known as Siam – annexed Siem Reap and Battambang provinces from the declining Khmer kingdom, but the territories were returned following a March 1907 treaty between Thailand and France.

Khmerization, posting at KI Media, informs us that ilovethailand.org has resulted in

the birth of ilovekhmer.org, a Khmer website created with the sole intention of countering the “provably false accusations” made by the Thai PM’s website, ilovethailand.org. The site proved an instant popularity with internet users, with its site metre hotly counting the numbers of visitors.

Thailand’s “lost territory” is illustrated in a video on the website. The Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok has requested the video’s removal from the website. Details are Sketchy, with comments from ThaRum, reports that ilovethailand.org is blocked in Cambodia, but it is unclear which side is censoring the site.

At Thai Intelligent News Weblog, there is news that the “site was also reported to have been hacked and down around the globe at many countries-as angry pro-democracy internet savvy Thais attacked the site.”

Thai Intelligent News Weblog goes on and balances nationalism against other concerns, stating:

For many reasons, Thailand has a very bad global image problem. The [Abhisit] solution is the global “I Love Thailand” Campaign. Thailand has gotten itself into trouble with neighbors before over this type of cultural and historical Nationalism-like with Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Nationalism is good, as a way to build love and unity for the country, but when it means conflict with neighbors-that is taking Nationalism too far.

Another Thai blogger, Thai 101, points out that ilovethailand.org’s terms and conditions require self-censorship:

Looks like this site is a national “stimulus” program of a non-economic variety. A government-sponsored website on which only those who admit that they love the country more than their own lives are allowed to come and express nothing but adulation and praise for the country. I’m sure this will do wonders for encouraging open and thoughtful dialogue. Especially that veiled threat at the end. Just lovely.

The video is shown here and on Bangkok Crimes, which notes that the “fourteenth slice of lost territory is Preah Vihear.”

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Chinese FM meets with U.S. Secretary of State

PHUKET, Thailand, China and the United States need to maintain high-level contact and deepen cooperation in various areas of common concern, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said here Wednesday in his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Yang said the two countries should also keep close communication and collaboration on global issues and properly handle disputes and sensitive issues in order to push forward bilateral ties.

Both Yang and Clinton are in the southern Thai resort Phuket to attend ASEAN Regional Forum scheduled on Thursday. The ASEAN, or Association of Southeast Asia Nations, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Clinton said that the U.S. hoped to closely cooperate with China in dealing with challenges and threats such as the global financial crisis and international terrorism to maintain world peace and security.

During the meeting, the two sides also mentioned the upcoming first U.S.-China strategic and economic dialogue.

The dialogue will be held in Washington, D.C. from July 27 to 28. Clinton and U.S. Treasure Secretary Timothy Geithner will be joined for the dialogue by their respective Chinese Co-Chairs, State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Vice Premier Wang Qishan.

The dialogue will focus on addressing the challenges and opportunities that both countries face on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global areas of immediate and long-term strategic and economic interests.

On Wednesday, Yang also met with his counterparts from Russia, South Korea and Pakistan.
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Former Khmer Rouge interrogator recounts torture techniques

A former interrogator at the main Khmer Rouge prison told Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes tribunal on Tuesday staff were taught to torture prisoners using electric shocks and suffocation.

Prak Khan, 58, recounted the grisly details during testimony against prison chief Duch, who is accused of overseeing the torture and execution of around 15,000 people held at Tuol Sleng prison in the late 1970s.

"We were taught how to torture the prisoners and to avoid the prisoners dying, otherwise the confession would be broken and we would be punished," Prak Khan told the court.

The witness, who became an interrogator in late 1976 after initially being assigned to work as a prison guard, said Duch and other high-ranking Khmer Rouge cadres often taught torture methods.

"We were trained how to whip the prisoners with the sticks, on how to electrocute, (and) how to use the plastic bag to suffocate them," Prak Khan said.

He said the court interrogators were also taught a "light but painful" torture method in which they inserted a needle under prisoners' nails, and that sometimes inmates were forced to eat excrement.

"Detainees would be told not to make loud noises, not to curse or exchange swear words, or to shout slogans. And they were also warned not to scream while being tortured," he said.

He said also he occasionally witnessed medics extracting blood from prisoners until they died.

"As I noted, there were five bags of blood taken from one detainee until the person was dying. After blood was drawn, no one could ever live because they were dying already while their blood was being taken," said Prak Khan.

Prak Khan said interrogators would torture prisoners until they confessed to spying on the Khmer Rouge regime and provided names of others in so-called espionage networks.

In earlier testimony, Duch admitted he did not believe that confessions obtained through torture were accurate.

Prak Khan recalled that children were separated from adult prisoners and exterminated, adding that he once saw a Tuol Sleng guard kill a seven or eight-month old infant.

"(A guard) took the baby from the mother and he dropped the baby from the upper floor to the ground and later on I was ordered to bury that dead baby," Prak Khan said.

The 66-year-old Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, has accepted responsibility for his role governing the jail and begged forgiveness near the start of his trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

But the defendant has consistently rejected claims by prosecutors that he held a central leadership role in the Khmer Rouge, and says he never personally killed anyone.

Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge emptied Cambodia's cities in a bid to forge a communist utopia. Up to two million people died of starvation, overwork and torture or were executed during the 1975-1979 regime.

Four other former Khmer Rouge leaders are in detention and are expected to face trial next year at the court, which was formed in 2006 after nearly a decade of wrangling between the UN and the Cambodian government.

The troubled tribunal faces accusations of interference by the Cambodian government and claims that local staff were forced to pay kickbacks for their jobs.

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