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Friday, October 14, 2011

UN legal chief to discuss concerns about genocide court during Cambodia visit

                                 Patricia O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs


14 October 2011 – The United Nations Legal Counsel will travel to Phnom Penh next week for meetings concerning the Cambodia genocide tribunal in the wake of the resignation of one of the judges.
The tribunal, known officially as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), was set up under an agreement signed in 2003 by the UN and the Government.

The independent court, which uses a mixture of Cambodian staff and judges and foreign personnel, is tasked with trying those deemed most responsible for mass killings and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979 during which as many as two million people are thought to have died.

The visit by Patricia O’Brien, the Under Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, follows the resignation earlier this week of Judge Siegfried Blunk, the international co-investigating judge at the ECCC.

Judge Blunk cited repeated statements by senior Government officials opposing the progress of what are referred to as cases 003 and 004 – which concern senior members of the Khmer Rouge military suspected of being responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.

These statements, he noted in his letter of resignation, could be used to call into question his ability to perform his duties independently, and this would call into doubt the integrity of the whole proceedings in these cases.

The UN has consistently stated that the ECCC must be permitted to proceed with its work without interference from any entity, including the Cambodian Government.

Ms. O’Brien will hold meetings with Government officials and others concerning the tribunal, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York.

In addition to concerns regarding the issue of Government interference, there have also been concerns raised with respect to other aspects of the court’s work, which will also be addressed during the visit, he noted.

“It is important that the United Nations talks to senior officials in the ECCC and others to gain the best possible understanding of these concerns,” he stated.
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Cambodiaand 4 othersCambodian Senior Minister H.E. Ly Thuch and Cambodian Red Cross thank Singapore for swift flood relief response

•Singapore Red Cross to send essential supplies and 2,000 water filtration units to Cambodia in the next few days

•More donation channels for South East Asia Flood Appeal: DBS, OCBC, UOB Internet Banking and AXS stations islandwide

Singapore, 14 October 2011 – His Excellency Ly Thuch, Senior Minister and Vice-President of the National Committee for Disaster Management in Cambodia, yesterday expressed thanks to Singapore for its generous contribution and prompt response, which would enable the Cambodian Red Cross to acquire more supplies for distribution to the provinces. He related the message through Mr Benjamin William, Singapore Red Cross’ Director of Special Duties, at a meeting on flood relief efforts in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Mr William was in Cambodia yesterday to present S$100,000, Singapore Red Cross’ first tranche of assistance, to the Cambodian Red Cross, which is playing a key role in the relief efforts. Cambodian Red Cross Secretary General Mdm Pum Chantini received the donation in the presence of the Singapore Ambassador H.E. S Premjith. In expressing deep appreciation to the Singapore Government and SRC, Ms Pum Chantinie noted that the Singapore Red Cross had “consistently been at the forefront in extending speedy humanitarian assistance to Cambodia during past natural disasters.”

The immediate contribution will go towards purchasing more food and essential supplies, and getting them to the people affected by the floods as quickly as possible. In the next few days, the Singapore Red Cross, working with its partners, will be sending more essential supplies, like blankets, water containers, and bottled water to Cambodia.

According to Ms Chantinie, one of the major challenges facing the people in the flooded areas was water and sanitation. “We are working closely with Temasek, the Asia investment company, and Temasek Foundation to donate 4,000 water filtration units, of which 2,000 will be sent to the Cambodian Red Cross next week, for the flood survivors” said Mr William.

Cambodia is experiencing the worst flooding in over a decade due to typhoons and greater than average rainfall since August 2011. The Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers are overflowing and 18 of 24 provinces are affected by severe flooding. Much of the rice and other food crops have been wiped out in many areas. Ms Chantinie shared that the primary focus of the CRC thus far has been to get food and other essential supplies, like blankets and clothing, to the close to 300,000 families that have been affected by the flooding. One of the top priorities now is to get essential supplies to the flood victims in the areas where the CRC and other authorities had not yet been able to reach due to the high flood waters and impassable roads. Recently, the government had appointed the CRC to coordinate all collection and the distribution of food to the people affected by the flooding.

Singapore Red Cross’ Director of Operations, Mr Lim Theam Poh on 12 October presented a donation of S$100,000 to Thai Red Cross’ Assistant Secretary General for External Relations, Mr Sawanit Kongsiri in Bangkok, Thailand, in the presence of Singapore Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Mr William Tan. The contribution will help the Thai Red Cross purchase relief kits for the flood survivors, and support other crucial relief efforts. At the meeting, they discussed further ways to help alleviate suffering of people affected by the severe flooding.

The contributions totaling S$200,000 make Singapore Red Cross’ first tranche of emergency relief to Thailand and Cambodia.

CALL TO ALL DONORS

Please give generously to the South East Asia Flood Appeal

Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are facing the most severe flooding in many years, and the situation is worsening. The Singapore Red Cross is working closely with its sister Red Cross national societies, which are spearheading relief efforts in these countries. Your donations will help bring urgent relief aid to alleviate the suffering of the people affected by the floods.

Besides cash and cheque donations, donors can now give via their DBS, OCBC, UOB accounts or at AXS stations islandwide. They can visit www.redcross.org.sg for a step-by-step guide on how to donate through these channels, starting this weekend. Read more!