The land of heroes
Our heroes
Our land
Cambodia Kingdom

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal Under Pressure After Judge Resigns

"The problem here is the U.N. hasn't actually done anything concrete to address the government continuing to try to control the court's docket."

Observers following Cambodia's Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal say this week's resignation of a key judge after only four months on the job risks tarnishing the legacy of the tribunal itself and the possibility of future trials.

The court has been marred by allegations of political interference at the hands of a Cambodian government that is on record opposing new investigations into Khmer Rouge suspects.

With Monday's resignation of international co-investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, legal observers say the U.N. must take long overdue action to save the reputation of the hybrid tribunal. Clair Duffy is a court monitor with the Open Society Justice Initiative.

"The problem here is the U.N. hasn't actually done anything concrete to address the government continuing to try to control the court's docket," said Duffy. "Last year we repeatedly asked the U.N. to investigate the government's interference in the court and it didn't. All we've seen in recent months is that crisis deepening."

Critics accused Kasper-Ansermet's predecessor, Judge Siegfried Blunk, of incompetence, claiming that he botched investigations into additional cases, under pressure from the government. Blunk has vehemently denied the charges, but when he resigned in October, he said continued government comments warning against future cases fueled the perception of political interference.

Blunk's replacement, Kasper-Ansermet, has declared his intention to investigate the cases, putting him at odds with his Cambodian counterpart, Judge You Bunleng. The pair have traded multiple contradictory messages through the media, with Bunleng and the Cambodian government refusing to even acknowledge Kasper-Ansermet's authority.
In his resignation letter, Kasper-Ansermet said he would continue in his role until early May. Duffy, the court monitor, says the judge should use the time to publicize the actions he has taken as co-investigating judge.

"What kinds of investigations could he carry out and where are there still gaps," said Duffy. "This means that if someone steps in to take his position, they can continue with that and they'll know exactly where things are at."

Kasper-Ansermet’s resignation throws further doubt of moving forward with a group of additional prosecutions known as cases 003 and 004. But case 002, involving the trial of three former senior Khmer Rouge leaders, continues this week in Phnom Penh.
Read more!

Conservation Helps Secure Land Rights in Cambodia

His Excellency Im Chhun Lim, Senior Minister for Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction. He is speaking with TV cameras in Andoung Kraloeng village,...

His Excellency Im Chhun Lim, Senior Minister for Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction. He is speaking with TV cameras in Andoung Kraloeng village, within Seima Protection Forest, after presenting the community members with their land title.


Newswise — MONDULKURI PROVINCE, CAMBODIA (March, 20, 2012) A vulnerable ethic minority village inside Cambodia’s remote Seima Protection Forest today became one of the first in Cambodia to receive a collective land title, which will help villagers fend off threats to their land and culture while also strengthening conservation goals.

The Senior Minister for Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, H.E. Im Chhun Lim, visited the ethnically Bunong village of Andoung Kraloeng village to mark this historic moment. The legal system has been piloted in three villages – the first two received titles last December, but the third is the only one in a protected forest and so sets crucial precedents for similar villages.

It has taken eight years for these first villages to receive their titles, but with the system now in place the rate of issuance is now expected to rise. Hundreds of other villages are eligible and many have begun the application process, including 12 in and around the Seima area. Eventually it is hoped to offer this opportunity to all interested villages around the reserve.

Seima is important for its extensive evergreen and deciduous forests and the high levels of biodiversity, including large populations of endangered primates, wild cattle, Asian elephants and green peafowl. Over 40 species at the site are globally threatened with extinction.

Northeastern Cambodia is home to many indigenous ethnic minority groups. They experience relatively high levels of poverty and often have a high dependence on natural resources, including forest products. The traditional collective land ownership systems, along with poverty and marginal political status make these communities vulnerable to land grabbing by powerful individuals and companies.

The 2001 Land Law enables them to obtain collective land titles which greatly increases land security. The application process also provides a framework for strengthening community technical capacity and social cohesion to address the many threats facing ethnic minorities by establishing and training Indigenous Community Commissions at the village level.

Over the years the village committee and elders in Andoung Kraloeng have grown stronger and more effective. They have successfully repelled many attempts by outsiders to grab land and damage other resources in the village, often in cooperation with law enforcement staff linked to the project.

Since 2003, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has worked to support this process in Seima. The dual aims are to strengthen community rights to manage their natural resources and enhance the conservation of endangered biodiversity. The work is part of a larger conservation program covering the Seima Protection Forest, one of the most important sites for biodiversity conservation in the region. The program is led jointly by WCS and the Cambodian Government's Forestry Administration, with the involvement of the Ministry of Land Management and several other government agencies. The first twelve years of this program have transformed the site – a former logging concession – into one of the most successful protected areas in the region.

Other key technical partners include: International Labour Organisation and GIZ. Critical support has been provided by: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, DFID, Danida, NZ Aid, The McKnight Foundation, and Asian Development Bank, among other key donors. U.S. government support to WCS work in the Seima landscape is provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Asian Elephant and Great Ape Funds.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the Flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: http://www.wcs.org/ 

###

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a Web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to wcs.org.
Read more!

P-Noy going to Cambodia for Asean Summit

By Delon Porcalla

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will be spending the first few days of Holy Week attending the 20th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia but will be back in Manila for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

He told reporters over the weekend in Baguio City that he still has to inspect all ports – airports, seaports and bus terminals – and check on possible weather disturbances during the Holy Week, a period when residents of Metro Manila usually go out of town.

Aquino is also scheduled to go on state visits to Australia and New Zealand, as well as a visit to Washington sometime in May, upon the invitation of US President Obama, which was coursed through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who visited the country last November.

Obama himself extended the invitation to Aquino also last November, when they both attended the East Asia Summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard extended her invitation to Aquino when they met at the last APEC meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii in November 2011 where they held bilateral talks.

Also included in President Aquino’s itinerary for this year is England, where there is “substantial investment in energy.”

Aquino hinted he may have to go directly to the United Kingdom after the Washington state visit.
Read more!