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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cambodia committed to democracy, human rights with rule of law: official

Cambodia is more than ever committed to human rights promotion and protection approach with its organic laws, said a government statement released on Tuesday by the Foreign Ministry's spokesman.

The statement was made after Ouch Borith, secretary of state for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, on Friday exchanged views on the issues of human rights with European Union's delegation led by the British Ambassador Andrew Mace, who is representing Sweden in their presidency of the EU.

During the meeting, Ouch Borith underlined that "Cambodia is more than ever committed to human rights promotion and protection approach with its organic laws."

At the same time, Ouch Borith stressed that Cambodia's democracy is based on the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"While individual rights, freedom of expression and a culture of debates are taking deeper roots in Cambodia, we must recognize that the exercise of these rights and freedoms in any democratic society must be within the rule of law," he said

EU's meeting with the government follows a Phnom Penh Municipal Court ruling on Aug. 4 that found opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) lawmaker Mu Sochua guilty of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen and ordered her to pay about 4,100 U.S. dollars in fines and compensation.

The EU expressed "concern over a number of instances in which criminal charges of defamation and disinformation have been used against representatives of civil society, the media and the political opposition," according to the report of the Cambodia Daily.

"Laws and regulations concerning defamation and disinformation exist worldwide, particularly in developed countries, to protect and guarantee the right to dignity of everyone," Ouch Borith said.

"The verdicts by the Cambodian Court on the recent defamation and disinformation cases are in compliance with the existing laws in relation to these offences," he added.

Admitting "the country still faces many challenges," Ouch Borith reassured the delegation of the EU that "Cambodia is firmly committed to ensuring that the country embraces the principles of democracy and human rights with the rule of law."

Source: Xinhua
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Hundreds expected in Phnom Penh to protest land grabs

Phnom Penh - Hundreds of people were expected in Phnom Penh Tuesday to deliver to the government a petition protesting land grabs and forced evictions.

Organizers said representatives from 19 of the kingdom's 24 provinces and municipalities would hand the petition to the office of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the cabinet and three government ministries.

They said 200,000 hectares of land are at risk. The petitions contain more than 15,000 thumbprints, a standard way of signing in Cambodia, where literacy rates are low.

The land seizures are carried out by companies with government connections, politicians and the military. Development is the standard reason the government gives for granting these mining or land concessions.

In a statement, the organizers said forced evictions, displacement and landlessness are reaching 'crisis proportions.'

'Evictions and land confiscation continue in Cambodia, despite calls by the World Bank, the ADB [the Asian Development Bank], the UN and Cambodia's donors for the government to enact a moratorium on forced evictions and land confiscation until it establishes effective conflict resolution mechanisms and relocation procedures meeting international standards,' they wrote.

Organizers said communities are being driven into poverty by land grabs, and their efforts to find peaceful solutions are met with intimidation, court action and even violence from the police and military.

'When we try to protect our legal rights, we receive intimidation,' villager Pol Cheoun from Battambang province in western Cambodia said in the statement. 'We want the government and the donors to know what is happening. We are losing our land, forest and fisheries we depend on. We are getting poorer and poorer, and the rich are getting richer.'

A community activist from the northern province of Oddar Meanchey told the Cambodia Daily newspaper that he is in favour of development, 'but I don't want to see development lead people to tears,' he said.

Amnesty International wrote last year that 150,000 Cambodians are at risk of losing their land.
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Investment in Cambodian tourism reaches $354 mln in half year

The Hun Xen government have invested about 354 million US dollars in tourism. It seem is very surprised, but it doesn't very surprised in any strategy. It is the old games which those officials always used to steal money from poor Cambodians.

PHNOM PENH, The investment in Cambodia's tourism reached to about 354 million U.S. dollars in the first six months of this year and is a leading field that got the most investment, the local media said on Tuesday.

"Council for Development of Cambodia (CDC) approved about 1.22 billion U.S. dollars investment projects totally from private companies and 354 million U.S. dollars of the total is on tourism investment project," the khmer language newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea quoted the document from CDC as saying.

Agricultural field stands second row after tourism with 323 million U.S. dollars and next field is industry with 303 million U.S. dollars.

In total, Cambodia received 53 investment projects for the first half year and tourism field attracted seven projects, while agri-industry has 12 projects, garment industry with 14 projects and three in energy projects.

If we consider on the projects for the first six month of this year, it increases four projects but the investment capital went down about 3.2 billion U.S. dollars compared with the same period of last year, it said, adding that for first six month of last year, Cambodia yielded with 49 investment projects with about 4.43billion U.S. dollar.
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