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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Australia asked to defend Cambodian Non-Government Organisations

The Australian Greens want the Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to publicly defend the rights of Cambodian Non-Government Organisations facing a crackdown by Phnom Penh.

The Cambodian government warned NGOs after they wrote to the Australian government's aid agency, Ausaid, about the impact of a railway project on local families being resettled.

The resettlement is being managed by Cambodia but Australia has contributed about 20 million US dollars towards the 140 million dollar refurbishment project.

The letter advised Ausaid and its aid partner, the Asian Development Bank, that two children had drowned fetching water at a relocation site due to a lack of proper facilities.

The Greens say these NGOs have been pivotal in highlighting other problems with the resettlement program, including claims of intimidation and forced removal of families.

The warning comes as Phnom Penh tries to pass a new law regulating NGOs, which observers fear is an attempt to silence those critical of the government.

i>Presenter:Joanna McCarthy
Speakers: Lee Rhiannon, Greens Senator

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