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Thursday, July 15, 2010

World parliaments criticize Israel, Cambodia

GENEVA — Representatives of world parliaments on Thursday criticized Israel, Cambodia and 19 other countries for their treatment of lawmakers.

The chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Union's human rights committee, Rosario Green, urged Israel not to deport Palestinian lawmakers Mohammed Abu Teir, Mohammed Totah and Ahmed Abu Atoun after they were recently released from prison.

The three were ordered expelled from Jerusalem for links to Hamas. But Green, a former Mexican foreign minister, said the expulsion violates the lawmakers' human rights.

Green's panel also called a Cambodian defamation case against opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua a "complete travesty of justice."

Mu Sochua faces up to six months in prison after refusing to pay a court-ordered fine for defaming Cambodia's prime minister.

Other countries scrutinized by the committee for their treatment of lawmakers included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Burundi, Colombia, Ecuador, Eritrea, Iraq, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Zimbabwe.

In one of its harshest criticisms, the panel slammed Russia for failing to bring to justice the murderers of Galina Starovoitova, who was gunned down in the stairwell of her St. Petersburg apartment building in 1998.

"We have been urging the Russian Federation for now 12 years to investigate more deeply into the masterminding of the assassination," said panel member Sharon Carstairs, a Canadian senator, explaining why the previously confidential case was now being highlighted.

"It is clear that they are not trying to get to the bottom of her assassination," said Carstairs. "We believe therefore that it is necessary to make this a public case, in order for her murderers — those who are ultimately responsible for her murder — to be brought to justice."

IPU brings together lawmakers from 155 countries. The U.S. Congress isn't a member.
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Universities Fail at Critical Thinking: Student Advocate

Cambodia’s higher education system has failed to address a lack of critical-thinking and problem-solving curricula among university students, a youth advocate told “Hello VOA” on Monday.

Instead, says Cheang Sokha, head of the Youth Resource Development Program, “student-centered” approaches exist on paper only within higher education.

“The quality of education in these skills is still very limited,” Cheang Sokha said.

“If we want to see a society’s fate, we look at how young people’s education is invested in,” he said. “Now look at the way our current education system invests in young people. How can we hope that our society will have a good fate?”

The Youth Resource Development Program hopes to improve that, he said, and has trained around 2,000 university students since 1999 to make them better thinkers and more attractive in the job market.

“Employers put more value on people with high critical-thinking and analytical problem-solving skills,” he said.

More than that, said one caller, Sun Thun, the education system has also failed to instill the proper sense of patriotism, democracy and respect for human rights.
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