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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

China says handling with citizens deported from Cambodia its own affair

China said on Tuesday that it was the country's internal affair to deal with the citizens deported from Cambodia, who were suspected of committing criminal offences, and the outside world should not make irresponsible remarks.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu made the remarks at a regular news briefing in response to a question on Cambodia's deportation of 20 Chinese citizens of the Uygur ethnic group.

Cambodia deported the Chinese citizens according to its immigration law and China received them according to the customs, said Jiang.

The Chinese nationals illegally cross the border to break the laws both in China and Cambodia. They were also suspected of committing criminal offenses, she said.

"Any country facing such circumstances is entitled to make its own decision in accordance with its domestic laws," Jiang said.

"How to handle with these people is the internal affair of China, and the outside world shall not make irresponsible remarks," Jiang said.

"China is a country under the rule of law. Judicial authorities will deal with these people's illegal criminal activities in accordance with the law and safeguard their legitimate rights."

Commenting on whether the deportation was linked with China's assistance to Cambodia, Jiang said both countries have maintained comprehensive and cooperative partnership, and "We provide assistance to Cambodia in line with our own capacity and without any strings attached."

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Thaksin leaves Cambodia

PHNOM PENH - THAILAND'S fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra has left Cambodia after spending more than a week stepping up his advisory role and meeting Thai supporters, an official said on Tuesday.

Thaksin, who arrived in Phnom Penh on Dec 13 for a second visit as an economic adviser to the Cambodian government, departed on Monday morning, said deputy cabinet minister Prak Sokhon. 'He left Cambodia yesterday at around 10am (0300 GMT, 11am Singapore time),' he said.

Officials would not disclose his destination. Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, has based himself in Dubai and travelled widely since leaving Thailand in August last year to escape a two-year jail term for corruption.

During his stay in Cambodia, Thaksin addressed top government officials on how to boost investment, tourism and agriculture.

He also met scores of his 'Red Shirt' supporters from Thailand, where he remains a hugely influential figure, witnesses and officials said.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia, who have fought a string of deadly gunbattles on their border since last year, plunged following Thaksin's appointment as an adviser last month. -- AFP

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UN to launch labour rights contest for Cambodian garment workers

22 December 2009 – Garment workers in Cambodia will have to know their rights to compete in a radio contest being launched by the UN labour organization, with the winners to be announced on International Labour Day in May next year.

The competition is organized by the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) ‘Better Factories Cambodia’ project which, with support from the Government of Cambodia, monitors and strives to improve the conditions in Cambodian garment factories.

“The basis of a sound industrial relation system, which is a key ingredient of healthy and sustained economic growth, is set in a wide understanding of the labour law and the institutions that implement it,” said Catherine Vaillancourt-Laflamme, Training Specialist for Better Factories Cambodia.

“With this garment workers’ competition, Better Factories Cambodia wants to increase the knowledge that Cambodian workers have of the labour law, while promoting the importance, for workers, workers representatives and employers, of respecting the national legal framework, especially in times of economic hardship,” she added.

The competition is open for free to all current and former garment workers who apply before the 22 January deadline. Twelve finalists will be selected to debate with one another in front of a panel of judges during a live radio broadcast on 20 February.

The three winners will be announced on the International Labour Day, observed on 1 May 2010. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second, and third-place winners.

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Forcible return of Uighurs from Cambodia sparks UN experts’ concern

22 December 2009 – Two United Nations human rights experts have expressed their concern over the forcible return from Cambodia to China of 20 ethnic Uighur asylum-seekers who had fled violence in their home country.

The asylum-seekers had escaped China in recent months, following the July clashes between Uighurs and ethnic Han in Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which Government figures show claimed more than 150 lives.

Nine people, mostly Uighurs, were executed last month for their involvement in the violence. Earlier this month, eight more people were sentenced to death, while concerns remain over the whereabouts and circumstances of many others reportedly detained after the clashes.

“In light of the reports of severe torture I have received following the July events and the recent executions in Xinjiang region in violation of the most basic fair trial guarantees, this is a blatant violation of Cambodia’s obligations under the principle of non-refoulement as stipulated in article 3 of the UN Convention against Torture,” said Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Mr. Nowak said the current situation is aggravated by the fact that he had previously reminded the Cambodian Government, through an urgent communication, of their international obligations.

The deportation order for the Uighurs came before they had learned of the results of their asylum applications.

“This means that the Cambodian authorities have knowingly prevented an objective determination of their refugee status under the Geneva Convention on refugees and whether the deportees would be at risk of torture, other forms of ill-treatment or the death penalty,” Mr. Nowak stressed.

He called on the Chinese authorities to treat the 20 Uighurs humanely and to grant access to them in case they are detained.

For her part, Gay McDougall, the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, urged the Chinese Government to allow for a comprehensive and independent assessment of the tensions and grievances that erupted into violence in July as quickly as possible.

“A thorough analysis of the events that took place must go to the heart of the ethnic tensions in the region that underlie the terrible tragedy and appalling loss of life experienced by both [the Uighurs and the Han],” she said.

Such an assessment must be impartial and hear from both communities and would be a “positive step towards reconciliation,” said Ms. McDougall, whose application in the immediate aftermath of the July violence to visit the region still has not been granted.

Without an understanding of the causes of the July clashes in an open and transparent manner, the communities will be pushed further apart, she underscored. “The possibility of further ethnic hostility cannot be discounted under current conditions.”

The expert also voiced concern over respect for due process rights. “The apparent fast-tracking of some trials and subsequent executions send shocking signals to some communities and may serve to further inflame tensions.”

Over the weekend, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) said the forced return of the asylum-seekers on Saturday took place a day after the agency had communicated its concern to the Cambodian Government about the deportations of the 20 Uighurs which took place before their asylum cases had been assessed.

The agency stressed that “a disturbing pattern of such cases is increasingly evident around the world.”

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Man jailed for eating rare tiger

A Chinese man has been jailed for 12 years for killing and eating a rare Indochinese tiger.

Kang Wannian, a villager from the southern province of Yunnan, said he had encountered the tiger while out fishing, and killed it in self-defence.

The animal may have been China's only wild Indochinese tiger, which is on the brink of extinction.

Four other men were jailed for sharing the tiger meal and covering up the incident.

Endangered species

Kang was confronted by the tiger in February while gathering freshwater clams in a nature reserve near China's border with Laos.

He said he shot the animal after dark and claimed that, at the time, he did not know it was an endangered Indochinese tiger.

According to local media, Kang was sentenced to 10 years for killing a rare animal plus two years for illegal possession of firearms.

The court in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province, also ordered him to pay a fine of 480,000 yuan ($70,000; £44,000).

Fewer than 1,800 Indochinese tigers are thought to be living in the wild, in the forests of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma.

The only known wild Indochinese tiger in China was photographed in 2007 at the same reserve that Kang visited.

The tiger has not been seen since Kang's meal, and there is speculation that Kang could have eaten the last one.

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