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Friday, March 21, 2008

Viet Nam, Thailand look ahead to closer ties

What is meant when for Cambodia when Thailand and Hanoi make love? is it going to be sqeezed or will be stumped to death like the year 1975-1979.

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej will pay an official visit to Viet Nam on March 24, looking to beef up economic ties, maximise the effectiveness of cooperative mechanisms and sign several cooperation pacts.

The visit is made at the invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in accordance with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)?s norms.

Established diplomatic ties on August 6, 1976, the two Southeast Asian countries have enjoyed a take-off in the partnership since 1991. The bilateral ties have developed strongly after Viet Nam joined ASEAN in July 1995.

The two countries? trade also got a boost, seeing the rise of 21.3 percent to reach 4.8 billion USD in turnover in 2007.

Up to the present, Thailand has invested in 169 FDI projects capitalising at 1.66 billion USD in Viet Nam , mostly involving in industrial and construction industries.

As a result, Thailand is ranking the 22 nd out of 77 countries and territories, and the third among ASEAN member countries, investing in Viet Nam .

Besides, Thailand has actively worked to boost trade, tourism and investment cooperation between its northeastern provinces with central localities in Viet Nam . In 2006, more than 120,000 Thai holidaymakers visited Viet Nam and over 200,000 Vietnamese visited Thailand .

As the two major rice exporters in the world, the two countries have created a common rice cooperative mechanism to bolster the cooperation in the field.

Apart from bilateral cooperative ties, the two Southeast Asian countries have coordinated to promote cooperation opportunities in the West-East Economic Corridor, within ASEAN, the Great Mekong Subregion, and the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy.

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Cambodia still obtaining criminal confessions through torture: rights group

A quarter of criminal defendants in Cambodian courts are tortured or coerced into giving confessions, a statistic that has not changed since last year, according to an annual report [PDF text] released Thursday by Center for Social Development (CSD) [advocacy website]. The report found that:
Although duress is prohibited in Cambodia, CSD found a significant number of cases where defendants alleged of being victim of this inhuman practice to extract confession. At the six courts monitored by CSD, including the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court, 25.3% of defendants whose cases were monitored claimed having been coerced by judicial police officers...

Judges rarely followed up on these allegations. Adequate follow-up would include conducting further inquiry into the allegation or to prosecute perpetrator. At Phnom Penh Court, for example, with only five defendants out of a total of 292 defendants alleging coercion did the trial judges request the prosecution to prove that the confession was given freely and voluntarily.

"The CSD annual report makes clear what goes on inside Cambodia's courtrooms still falls short of what can be considered procedural justice," he said.

"CSD reported that over 25 per cent of defendants appearing in court claimed to have been tortured or coerced into giving confessions. I note that this ... is the same as reported last year, indicating there has been no significant change."

The Court Watch Project by CSD has come to be viewed as the definitive annual survey of developments in the fledgling Cambodian judicial system since it was launched in 2003.

CSD, which receives funding from a number of donors including Germany and the US, interviewed a wide range of judicial officials, witnesses, lawyers and defendants between October 2006 and September 2007.

Judicial reform of the notoriously corrupt Cambodian system has been earmarked by donors to the aid-dependant nation as a key factor in the country's development after 30 years of civil war.

The report outlined a number of concerns, including poor training of the judiciary, bribery, torture, underfunding, a lack of independence and frequent pre-trial detention of prisoners for terms exceeding the legal limit of six months.

"Not all the news is bad," Mussomeli said, but "on balance ... there remains a good deal to be done before the people of the judicial system will earn the trust of the people of Cambodia."

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Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh support China's actions to stabilize Tibet

BEIJING, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Senior government officials of Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh have expressed their countries' support for Chinese government's measures to stabilize the situation in Tibet.

"Vietnam fully supports the measures taken by China to stabilize the situation in Tibet," said Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vu Dung in a meeting with Chinese ambassador to Vietnam, Hu Qianwen, on Thursday, adding that the Tibet issue is purely China's internal affairs.

The Chinese government has made great efforts for the economic developments and social progress of Tibet, and yielded tremendous achievements, said the official.

Meeting on Wednesday with Duan Jinzhu, charge d'affaires of the Chinese embassy in Cambodia, Long Visalo, secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, said the incident in Lhasa, the capital city of China's Tibet autonomous region, was elaborately plotted and organized by a small group of people with ulterior motives.

Some distorted news coverages by Western media were aimed at disturbing the then ongoing sessions of the Chinese National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and the election of new Chinese leaders, as well as undermining the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games, said Long Visalo.

"The Lhasa riot is absolutely not so-called 'peaceful demonstration,' but a serious riot incident," he added.

A spokesman of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Thursday, expressing Bangladesh's solidarity with China on the Tibet issue.

"All matters pertaining to Tibet are internal affairs of China," the statement said.

Bangladesh wishes the Beijing Olympic Games great success and would not like to see the games be politicized by any organizations, he added.
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