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Monday, October 12, 2009

CAMBODIA TRIBUNAL MUST NOT USE TORTURE "CONFESSIONS" AS A LEGITIMATE SOURCE OF INFORMATION

What prisoners say or "confess" to under torture should never be admissible in any court proceedings, said Amnesty International, The International Commission of Jurists and the Redress Trust, after submitting a brief to the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

The brief was submitted on 25 September 2009, as part of an application to intervene as "friends of the court" (amicus curiae) in the case of Ieng Thirith, where a dispute has arisen in respect of the potential admissibility of certain statements. In it, the organizations explain that the prohibition on the use of the content of statements obtained by torture by courts is absolute. It both reflects and supports the absolute prohibition on torture and is essential for preserving the integrity of the judicial process and the right to a fair trial. It is also impelled by the moral repugnance at the prospect of using the torturer's creation -- the "confession" -- to seek justice.

Admitting the content of a torture "confession" as evidence, bearing in mind that it was extracted out of a helpless detainee through the intentional infliction of pain and suffering, would irreparably taint any court proceedings.

Article 15 of the UN Convention against Torture, which binds the ECCC, excludes all statements obtained by torture from any court proceedings, with one exception only: torture statements may be used against the suspected torturers themselves, but then only "as evidence that the statement was made." In other words, such statements may be used as part of the proof that the act of torture took place, and not in any way for the truth of its contents or any other purpose. This limitation is clear from the language of the article, which uses the word "only" to prevent any misinterpretations. It is also clear from the history of its drafting in the UN, which the brief describes. During the drafting, proposals to allow the wider use of statements obtained by torture were considered but rejected.

The brief also explains that under international law, the use of statements obtained by torture to prove that they were made, is not limited to proceedings against the actual torturer, but also against commanders and political superiors accused of bearing responsibility for the torture.

The prohibition on the use of "confessions" does not extend automatically to all related material. For instance, other documents in the same file, including registration forms, need not be excluded automatically. However, the admissibility of any such material can nevertheless be challenged, on grounds that it did form part of the statement obtained by torture, that it was obtained by torture independently of the statement, or on other grounds set out in international and Cambodian law.

The organizations urge the ECCC to ensure that its proceedings adhere to international law and standards, which would contribute to the Court's credibility and ability to leave behind a positive and long-lasting legacy. A failure to do so would run counter to the international community's fundamental rejection of torture and refusal to provide it any legitimacy, and potentially undermine the integrity of the ECCC itself.

Regrettably, procedures in the Pre-Trial Chamber involving this brief have been rendered confidential.

The text of the brief is available here: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA23/020/2009/en

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Chinese Red Cross Society donates $30,000 to Cambodia for flood relief

Chinese Red Cross Society on Monday donated 30,000 U.S. dollars emergency humanitarian aid to its Cambodian counterpart in order to help the Cambodian side for the flood control and victims relief.

The donation was delivered by Zhang Jinfeng, Chinese ambassador to Cambodia, on behalf of the Red Cross Society of China, to the Cambodian Red Cross.

Typhoon Ketsana has caused severe flood in several provinces in Cambodia, the Red Cross Society of China decided to offer 30,000 U.S. dollars emergency humanitarian aid, Zhang Jinfeng said.

Pum Chantinie, secretary general of Cambodian Red Cross, expressed her thanks to China at the donation ceremony and spoke highly of China's consistent assistance to Cambodia. "Cambodia and China are two friendly neighborhood and our people always support and help each other, when we have difficulty, Chinese government and people always give us a hand," she said.

Ambassador Zhang Jinfeng said she hopes that the donation will play an active role in helping the reconstruction in those areas hit by Kesana.

Typhoon Ketsana hit Cambodia and killed at least 20 people in Kompong Thom, Preah Vihear, Siem Reap, Ratanakiri, and Mondulkiri provinces, and also destroyed hundreds of houses, roads, dam for agricultural irrigation, and thousands of hectares of rice fields.

Source: Xinhua
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Crooks more high-tech than cops

SINGAPORE: Transnational crime syndicates are becoming stronger by exploiting technology, said officials at an Interpol conference here.

The syndicates are forging links with one another and taking advantage of insufficient co-ordination among the world’s police forces.

Delegates warned that law enforcement agencies must urgently boost the sharing of intelligence to fight criminals, who are increasingly in cahoots with terrorist networks including al-Qaida.

“It is fair to say that criminals are ahead of governments in exploiting the most advanced tools of globalisation,” such as international travel, banking and trade, US Deputy Attorney General David Ogden said.

“Criminals are at the most advanced stage of globalisation,” Ogden told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the conference organised by the United Nations and Interpol. “There is no question that we are behind and the power of these international criminals has grown.”

By one estimate, organised crime today comprises up to 15% of the global gross domestic product, Ogden said.

The Lyon, France-based Interpol was created in 1923 and is the world’s largest international police organisation with 187 member countries.

But it appears Interpol is behind in the fight against crime, thanks to insufficient co-operation among countries.

Part of the problem is corruption of police departments in many countries. Because of their shaky reputations, other countries are reluctant to share information with them.

“In order to share information you have to have confidence that it won’t be misused,” Ogden said.

Also, various law enforcement agencies — even within the same country — suffer from rivalries, resulting in information not being disseminated.

Examples of transnational crimes abound. Ogden cited an emblematic case disclosed last year — a racketeering enterprise in Romania that had joined forces with criminals around the world, including street gangs in Los Angeles, to use the Internet to defraud thousands of people and hundreds of financial institutions.

Those charged in the case operated from locations in the Canada, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania and the United States, and were citizens or permanent residents of Cambodia, Mexico, Pakistan, Romania, the United States and Vietnam. — AP

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Cambodia proposes Thai border talks at regional summit

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - Cambodia on Monday proposed neighbouring Thailand puts their border dispute on the agenda when it hosts this month's summit of Southeast Asian leaders, according to a diplomatic letter.

The summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and six dialogue partners - China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand - takes place in the coastal resort of Hua Hin on October 23-25.

In a letter to his Thai counterpart Kasit Piromya, a copy of which was sent to AFP, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said the border dispute between the two countries should be included on the summit's agenda.

The move came after Kasit reportedly said last week he would seek approval at the meeting to establish a neutral organisation that would help settle the Thai-Cambodia dispute, which has sparked deadly skirmishes between troops.
"In this regard, I would like to propose that the dispute between Cambodia and Thailand in the area of the temple of Preah Vihear be included in the agenda of the ASEAN summit in Hua Hin," Hor Namhong said.

The focus of the border dispute has been an area of land around the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, where clashes have killed seven soldiers since nationalist tensions between the neighbours flared last year.

Cambodia and Thailand have been at loggerheads over the land around Preah Vihear for decades, but tensions spilled over into violence in July last year when the temple was granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

The World Court ruled in 1962 that it belonged to Cambodia.

Soldiers from Cambodia and Thailand continue to patrol the area, with the last gunbattle near the temple area in April leaving three people dead.

Cambodian premier Hun Sen last month said that he had ordered his troops to shoot anyone from neighbouring Thailand who crossed illegally on to land around Preah Vihear.

The border between the two countries has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia. --AFP

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