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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Cambodia to register 12th century temple as World Heritage Site

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia will submit the application form to list 12th century Banteay Chmar temple as World Heritage Site with the heritage committee of UNESCO soon, the local media reported on Sunday.

"Listing of the temple is aiming at conservation of the heritage site and its value is humanitarian heritage," according to khmer language newspaper Kampuchea Thmey Daily.

It added that Cambodia delegation led some experts from UNESCO,and delegation from Foundation for World Heritage to visit the temple on Saturday.

The temple located in Banteay Mean Chey province, about 60 km distance in northern area of provincial town.

Cambodia has already registered Angkor Wat temple, Royal Ballet, Khmer shadow theater and Khmer temple Preah Vihear as World Heritage Sites.
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Cambodia: Law On The Statute Of Judges

Press Release: Asian Human Rights Commission

Cambodia: Law On The Statute Of Judges, Not Their Retirement, Is The Right End From Which To Tackle Judicial Reform

Last June the Cambodian government ignored the jurisdiction of the nomination and discipline of judges and prosecutors of the Supreme Council of the Magistracy (SCM) when it bypassed the court and got the King, who is chairman of this supreme judicial council, to retire and replace half of the eight SCM members. The retired members were Ouk Vithun, Prosecutor General of the Supreme Court, 62, an ex-officio member; Henrot Raken, 68, Prosecutor General of the Appeal Court, another ex-officio member; Khieu Sameth, 62, President of Kandal Provincial Court, an appointed member; and Sin Dim, 66, President of Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court, another appointed member.

The government’s infringement upon the SMC’s jurisdiction is unconstitutional as it violated the independence of the judiciary of which the SCM is an integral part. Apparently the government was not happy with the lack of the SMC’s swift disciplinary action against a provincial prosecutor whose alleged faults had been widely reported in the press.

Perhaps more importantly, the government was not happy with the SCM when the latter had not retired the judges and prosecutors it had proposed. The SCM had its own reasons for not heeding the government’s proposal. It wanted to uphold its independence and exercise its authority over the nomination and discipline of judges and prosecutors.

Even more importantly, there was no law on the statute of judges and prosecutors which should set the retirement age for them. The government has not yet enacted this long overdue law and also the law on the organization of the judiciary when the country‘s Constitution has specifically stipulated the need to enact both laws since 1993. Like the law on the statute of civil servants and the law on the statute of members of the armed forces, which have not been specifically stipulated in the Constitution and which had both been enacted in the mid-1990s, this law on the statute of judges and prosecutors would determine, among other things, the age of retirement for judges and prosecutors. Without this law, the SCM would have no legal basis to retire judges and prosecutors.

The SCM did not comply with a government decree (not a law) which has been echoed by subsequent government circular letters and which fixes the retirement age of 60 for judges and prosecutors when this decree was based on no law on the statute of judges and prosecutors. This inaction has led the government to accuse the SCM of defending certain members of the judiciary who have wished to remain in active service.

Now with a new composition more amenable to the government’s wishes, the SCM sets out to retire some 27 elder judges and prosecutors, retirement which some have seen as part of the long overdue judicial reform.

However, the retirement of the four members of the SCM in June and the planned retirement of a big batch of judges and prosecutors are but palliatives to defuse mounting pressure for judicial reform. These measures have tackled this reform at the wrong end and have in no way come to address the real issue of the legal foundation of Cambodia’s entire judiciary. They have further violated the constitutional principle of the separation of powers, judicial independence and consolidated the executive control of the judiciary.

If the government is not happy with the functioning of the SCM, the Prime Minister should raise the issue with the King who is its chairman when he has an audience with him twice a month (Art.20 of the Constitution). The government should not delay any further the enactment of the law on the statute of judges and prosecutors and the law on the organization of the judiciary so that judges and prosecutors, who belong to the same body of magistrates, would have proper legal status, which they don’t have at the moment, and all courts of law would be duly established by law, which they are not at the moment. Everyone would thus be entitled to be tried by an independent, competent and impartial tribunal established by law, a right which is specifically stipulated under Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Cambodia is a party.

The government cannot apply the law on the nomination of judges and on the functioning of courts of law enacted in the communist days, prior to the promulgation of the current Constitution, and any decree enacted thereof when they are not among the “Laws and standard documents in Cambodia that safeguard State properties, rights, freedom and legal private properties and in conformity with the national interests, (which) shall continue to be effective until altered or abrogated by new texts” under the transitional article 158 of the current Constitution.

The absence of the law on the statute of judges and prosecutors poses a big problem of legitimacy for the composition of the SCM itself whose three judge members should be elected by their peers, an election which has been held up for 16 years, which is too long. The lack of the legitimacy of the composition of the SCM in turn questions the legitimacy of the composition of the country’s Constitutional Council which is a sort of a constitutional court, whose three members are appointed by the SCM.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) urges the Cambodian government to prioritise the building of the legal foundation and framework of the country’s entire judiciary, its organization and the status of judges and prosecutors by enacting the law on their statute, including their retirement age, in tandem with the law on the organisation of the judiciary, two of the important laws that are specifically stipulated in the country’s constitution. This is the right end from which it should tackle judicial reform in Cambodia.

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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ASEAN turns 42, looks to the future

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations celebrated its 42nd anniversary Friday with a series of activities highlighting more than four decades of strong regional cooperation. In Korea, the ASEAN Committee in Seoul, held a flag-raising ceremony and reception at the Malaysian embassy on Aug. 7.

Participants included Korean government officials, members of the National Assembly, the private sector, academia and the media.

"With its 42nd birthday, ASEAN looks towards deeper integration as it seeks to build an ASEAN Community by 2015, which will further unite its combined population of 560 million and land area of 4.48 million square kilometers," Malaysian Ambassador and chair of the ASC Dato' Ramlan Bin Ibrahim.

"The ASEAN Charter, ratified by all ASEAN members, will act as the firm foundation in ASEAN's move to become a rules-based, people-oriented and integrated entity."

Externally, Ramlan said that ASEAN aims to further intensify regional ties and enhance people-to-people exchanges through forward-looking projects and closer networks with regional partners.

"ASEAN continues to forge ahead in its relationship with its 10 dialogue partners" (Australia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States).

Korea recently hosted the ASEAN Commemorative Summit on Jeju Island at the beginning of June to celebrate 20 years of dialogue partnership.

In cementing closer ties between the two entities, the meeting also sought to further expand cooperation in new areas, including green technology.

Founded in 1967 to promote political cooperation among stakeholders, ASEAN has expanded to include more member countries and more areas of cooperation in diverse sectors such as trade, security and development.

It is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Malaysia is the current chairman of the ASEAN Committee in Seoul.

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Experts gather in Bali to discuss fight against AIDS

NUSA DUA, INDONESIA — Experts from 65 nations gather in Indonesia Sunday to assess progress in the battle against HIV (human immunovirus)/AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) amid concern only a quarter of those in need in Asia and the Pacific are getting treatment.

The International Congress on AIDS in the region, which will be opened by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the resort island of Bali, will look at how to ensure "universal access" to anti-retroviral treatment, congress chairman Zubairi Djoerban said.

He said that only 25% of the 1.7 million of people with HIV/AIDS in the Asia-Pacific who need the treatment are receiving it.

"We’re still far away from our target," he said. "We’re not talking 100%, which is the ideal. If Latin America can treat 62% of sufferers there, we should strive towards that."

An estimated five million Asians are living with HIV, especially in southeastern countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Indonesia, according to a UN report released last year.

The congress, which runs until Thursday, will also serve to demand commitment from governments to tackle the disease that killed 380,000 people across Asia in 2007, Mr. Djoerban said.

"We ask for commitment from the countries to achieve the targets they have set and if they say they can’t, we’ll discuss new efforts to help them reach their goals," he added. "We can discuss prevention and treatment but with no leadership and commitment from countries and the community, we won’t achieve much."

While there are some bright spots in the region, such as Cambodia, where HIV prevalence has declined through condom use, new infections are growing steadily in populous countries such as Bangladesh and China, the UN report said. — AFP

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