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Saturday, August 01, 2009

6th Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission meets in Bangkok

BANGKOK, Thailand will host the 6th Meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia (Joint Commmission) on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Centara Grand Hotel in Bangkok.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya is heading the Thai delegation and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong leads the Cambodian delegation.

The parties will review past cooperation and plan future collaboration, according to a Thai foreign ministry statement.

The meeting is a time for Thailand and Cambodia to strengthen relations, and further discuss issues raised during Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s official visit to Cambodia on June 12.

The program and activities of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Cambodia in 2010 are expected to be discussed.

The Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) will be held Tuesday, and the Joint Commission will meet Wednesday.

The countries foreign ministers will sign an agreement on transferring sentenced prisoners and cooperating to enforce prison sentences.
The Joint Commission is responsible for supervising the bilateral relations between the two countries.

The meeting will address bilateral cooperation in politics, security, economics, society, science and technology.

The parties will also consider cooperation in multilateral frameworks such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), Emerald Triangle and the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS).

The 5th JC Meeting was hosted by Cambodia February 7-10, 2006 in Phnom Penh. (TNA)

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Opinion: Identifying Cambodian injustice

What prosecutor Top Chan Sereyvudth's true nature says about Cambodia's justice system.

By Joel Brinkley - GlobalPost

PURSAT, Cambodia — Top Chan Sereyvudth is a little man, maybe five foot four, with a bit of fuzz on his chin that some might mistake for a beard. When faced with questions about his problematic behavior, he takes several steps backward with a nervous look. His is the face of injustice in Cambodia.

Top is the chief prosecutor in Pursat Province, a government lawyer charged with bringing malefactors to justice. Well, through a bureaucratic sleight of hand, he managed to have a case transferred from Banteay Meanchey Province, on the other side of the nation, into his own courtroom. This case involved a dispute with four villagers over ownership of some land. These villagers were locked in argument with none other than Top Chan Sereyvudth, who stood to gain five acres for himself.

In his own courtroom, the prosecutor managed to dispatch the villagers to jail after the court offered a preliminary judgement in his favor. In Cambodia, where courts are plagued with graft and inequity, that would have been the end of it — if not for Chhay Sareth, governor of Pursat Province.

He had been out of town during the prosecutor’s escapade, but he heard about it when scores of the victims’ friends from Banteay Meanchey began raucous demonstrations in the center of town.

“I was just informed that there were angry people in the street,” the governor told me. “I was 100 kilometers away. The case was getting bigger and bigger. I thought, if we don’t stop it, Hun Sen will hear about it!” Hun Sen is Cambodia’s prime minister.

After hurrying home, he called in the protesters, heard their story and “ordered the police to assure their security.” A few days later, the case moved to trial. By now the governor’s concern was well known, and the trial judge, In Bopha, let the four men go. When I asked him why, he chose his words carefully.

“It was determined that the crime was committed in Banteay Meanchey province and was out of our jurisdiction. So I ordered it forwarded back to Banteay Meanchey under article 290 of our code.”

As all of this proceeded, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vattana grew angry. After all, he had approved the prosecutor’s request to transfer the case. Now, what was a governor doing messing around in his courts?

“The minister of justice asked me why I got involved in this,” the governor recalled. “I told him: ‘This problem came here from Banteay Meanchey, and when someone vomits on your leg, you have to react. So I got involved.’ I respect these people, even though they came from Banteay Meanchey. I did not know this case until they came here. The prosecutor brought this case here.”

All of that happened in February and March. I spoke to the governor in early July and asked him: After all of that, why is Top Chan Sereyvudth still chief prosecutor in Pursat Province?

“I wonder why the prosecutor, who was really involved in this case, why there is no punishment, no measure taken against him,” he said. “I still wonder why. If you want to know more, I suggest you talk to the minister of justice.” So I did. But not before Top Chan Sereyvudth showed his true nature one more time.

At the end of June, Lieut. Col. Ou Bunthan, a trafficker in endangered species, sent his employee, Leang Saroeun, to pick up a wild pangolin someone had captured. Leang did as told, but on the way back the animal escaped. The colonel was furious. He summoned Leang to his house, poured four liters of gasoline over him and then lit him.

Leang's wife, Laet Heang watched in horror as her husband, ablaze, “ran and jumped into a cistern” full of water, she told me. A few days later he died. Word of this got around, of course. A reporter asked Top Chan Sereyvudth about the incident, since it occurred in Pursat.

Top said he was awaiting a police report before considering the case. But then, without skipping a beat, he pronounced: “It is slanderous to say that Ou Bunthan burned Leang Saroeun."

A few days later I asked Justice Minister Ang Vong Vattana first about transferring the land case to Pursat. The minister answered with an imperial tone: “I have the right to transfer the case, and I did it.” But didn’t Top have a personal interest in the case? “People say he was involved, but nobody has shown me the proof.”

Okay, then, was it proper for Top to pronounce guilt in the Ou Buntham case — before he had even seen the police report?

For a moment, the minister simply glared with a pinched lip, narrow-eyed stare. Then he stood up and stormed out of the room, muttering, “you waste my time.”

Today, Top Chan Sereyvudth is still Pursat Province’s chief prosecutor. Today, as every day, justice in his court cannot be had.
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