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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cambodia police, protesters clash after PM court win

Cambodian police (R) try to block Mu Sochua (C), lawmaker from the opposition Sam Rainsy party, and her supporters along a street in Phnom Penh. A Phnom Penh court ruled that Mu Sochua was guilty of defaming President Hun Sen for remarks she made during an April press conference(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Cambodian supporters from the opposition Sam Rainsy party clash with police along a street in Phnom Penh. A Phnom Penh court ruled that Mu Sochua of the Sam Rainsy Party was guilty of defaming President Hun Sen for remarks she made during an April press conference.(AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodian police on Tuesday clashed with supporters of an outspoken lawmaker from the country's main opposition party after a court found her guilty of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen.

A Phnom Penh court ruled that Mu Sochua of the Sam Rainsy Party was guilty of defaming Hun Sen for remarks she made during an April press conference, in which she also announced she would sue the premier for allegedly insulting her.

After Tuesday's ruling, opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Mu Sochua, along with dozens of her supporters, marched from the court through the capital, chanting, "Justice! Justice!"

Police attempting to break up the march clashed with a few protesters, grabbing, punching and kicking several of the loudest demonstrators, an AFP correspondent at the scene witnessed.

Most journalists and rights activists were banned from attending the brief hearing in which Judge Sem Sakola ordered Mu Sochua to pay 2,000 dollars in compensation to Hun Sen, who filed the suit soon after her April remarks.

The judge also ordered the lawmaker to pay a fine of 2,125 dollars to the state, but Mu Sochua told reporters that she did not accept the court's decision.

"The ruling is based on political motivation, not by laws," Mu Sochua said outside court.

"That was not justice. I made it very clear, I will continue to fight until justice is provided to me."
The Cambodian National Assembly stripped Mu Sochua of parliamentary immunity in June to clear the way for the controversial court proceedings against her.

Her lawsuit against Hun Sen was meanwhile dismissed in court.

International rights groups have expressed alarm over a recent spate of defamation and disinformation lawsuits lodged by senior Cambodian officials against government critics.

New York-based Human Rights Watch alleged Hun Sen's government aimed to silence political opposition and critics with a recent "campaign of harassment, threats, and unwarranted legal action."

Sam Rainsy was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in February after accusing Hun Sen's party of corruption during elections last year and then failing to pay a 2,500-dollar fine.

His immunity was later restored when his party eventually paid the fine.
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Probable Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Disability in Cambodia

Associations With Perceived Justice, Desire for Revenge, and Attitudes Toward the Khmer Rouge Trials

Context Millions of Cambodians suffered profound trauma during the Khmer Rouge era (1975 to 1979). A joint United Nations–Cambodian tribunal (the "Khmer Rouge trials") was empanelled in 2006 to prosecute top Khmer Rouge leaders and began substantive hearings in March 2009.

Objectives To establish the prevalence of probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among adult Cambodians and to assess correlates of PTSD symptoms and disability with perceived justice, desire for revenge, and knowledge of and attitudes toward the trials.

Design, Setting, and Participants A national probability sample of 1017 Cambodians was assembled using a multistage, stratified cluster design, including 813 adults older than 35 years who had been at least 3 years old during the Khmer Rouge era and 204 adults aged 18 to 35 years who had not been exposed to the Khmer Rouge era. Face-to-face interviews were conducted between December 2006 and August 2007.

Main Outcome Measures Prevalence of probable PTSD using the PTSD Checklist, Civilian version (cutoff score of 44), and mental and physical disability using the Medical Outcomes Study 12-item Short Form Health Survey.

Results The prevalence of current probable PTSD was 11.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 8.6%-13.9%) overall and 7.9% (95% CI, 3.8%-12.0%) among the younger group and 14.2% (95% CI, 11.0%-17.3%) in the older group. Probable PTSD was significantly associated with mental disability (40.2% vs 7.9%; adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 7.80; 95% CI, 3.90-15.60) and physical disability (39.6% vs 20.1%; AOR, 2.60; 95% CI, 1.26-5.39). Although Cambodians were hopeful that the trials would promote justice, 87.2% (n = 681) of those older than 35 years believed that the trials would create painful memories for them. In multivariate analysis, respondents with high levels of perceived justice for violations during the Khmer Rouge era were less likely to have probable PTSD than those with low levels (7.4% vs 12.7%; AOR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.34-0.86). Respondents with high levels of desire for revenge were more likely to have probable PTSD than those with low levels (12.0% vs 7.2%), but the difference was not statistically significant in the multivariate analysis (AOR, 1.76; 95% CI, 0.99-3.11).

Conclusions Probable PTSD is common and associated with disability in Cambodia. Although Cambodians had positive attitudes toward the trials, most were concerned that the trials would bring back painful memories. Now that the trials have begun, longitudinal research is needed to determine the impact of the trials on Cambodians' mental health.

Author Affiliations: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Dr Sonis); Washington University in St Louis, Missouri (Dr Gibson); Vrije Universiteit Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Dr de Jong); Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto, California (Dr Field); Center for Advanced Study, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Dr Hean); HealthNet TPO, Amsterdam (Dr Komproe); Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa (Dr Gibson); and Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr de Jong).
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Water Is Medicine: Why Act Now on the Water and Sanitation Crisis

WASHINGTON, the bipartisan Congressional Water Caucus and Water Advocates hosted a Capitol Hill Briefing on the vital linkages between safe drinking water, sanitation and global public health challenges. The briefing, titled "Water is Medicine," revealed that evidence shows inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are the developing world's largest cause of disease. WASH is also critical to sustainable progress across a broad spectrum of development needs-from hunger to environmental degradation.

More than 25 diseases are caused by inadequate water and sanitation, creating nearly 10% of the global public health burden, killing more than 2 million people a year (including more children than AIDS, TB and malaria combined) and leading to 50% of the world's malnutrition. Each year there are more that 4 billion cases of diarrhea (a consequence of many of these 25+ diseases), killing 1.5 million people, 90% of whom are children under five.

Although Americans 100 years ago suffered from these same WASH-related diseases, today the US public is largely unaware of the extent and severity of the WASH crisis as few see the situation first hand. We easily flush away potential pathogens with a twist of a toilet handle and have clean safe drinking water at the turn of a tap. However, this is a global problem that Americans can do something about now-the solutions may begin with just a borehole well or getting more children to wash their hands with soap. We have the technology and knowledge to solve this if there is an increase in political will and financing.

"The deaths and illnesses caused by unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation are arguably the world's most grave public health challenge; they are also the most solvable and preventable," Representative John Linder said in response to the briefing. "I am pleased that the Congressional Water Caucus co-hosted the Capitol Hill briefing entitled "Water is Medicine" and I am personally proud to be a co-sponsor of the Water for the World Act of 2009."

Jae So, Manager of the Water and Sanitation Program, addressed the economic costs of inadequate sanitation giving the example of Cambodia where 7% of GDP is lost. Also speaking powerfully to the standing-room-only audience were Christine Moe, Director, Center for Global Safe Water, Emory University and Rich Thorsten, Director of International Programs of the newly formed, co-founded by Matt Damon.

Rep. Linder, a co-founder of the Water Caucus, also commented, "The list of domestic and international policy issues that we will face in the 111th Congress is long and each issue will be competing for a spot at the top of the agenda. It is critical that we act to ensure that water resources issues are brought to the forefront of the political agenda. The United States has a great opportunity to take a global leadership position on this critical issue. Indeed, water scarcity and pollution affects everything from stability and security of communities and nations, human health, education, economic prosperity, humanitarian relief and stewardship of the physical environment."
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