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Monday, October 25, 2010

Lake Residents Seek Audience With Ban Ki-moon

More than 100 residents from Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak lake area gathered in front of the UNDP offices on Monday to request a meeting with the UN secretary-general on his upcoming visit.

Ban Ki-moon is expected to arrive Wednesday for two days of official talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen and others, and lake residents said Monday they hoped he could help resolve an ongoing dispute with development company Shukaku.

Residents said in a letter they wanted “to stop the forced eviction from their homes and lands.” UNDP officials accepted the request and said they would forward it to Ban's office.

“We want to meet Ban Ki-moon to help us be free of forced eviction,” lake resident Sam Vanna said Monday. “We need government development projects for a modern city, but we want to live in the Boeung Kak area.”

On his visit, Ban is expected to address ongoing issues with the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, and he is scheduled to visit the Tuol Sleng genocide Museum.
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Arisman 'seeks Cambodian visa'

Fugitive red shirt leader Arisman Pongruengrong has reportedly recently filed an application for a Cambodian visa from the country's consulate in Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district.

Mr Arisman, who allegedly entered Cambodia earlier, reportedly wants to obtain a Cambodian visa so he can extend his stay in the country.

Sa Kaeo governor Sanit Intharasuksri said he had contacted the Cambodian consulate to tell its staff that Mr Arisman might have used a fake exit stamp from Thai immigration when applying to enter Cambodia.

Thai immigration officials have no record of Mr Arisman leaving or re-entering the country, so it was not possible for him to obtain the stamp legally for the visa application.

Mr Sanit said he had been told by Cambodian officials that they may not have realised the Thai immigration stamp on Mr Arisman's passport could be a fake and processed the application without question.

Informed sources say Mr Arisman has been in hiding Siem Reap with his bodyguard. He allegedly hired someone to file the visa application in Aranyaprathet on his behalf.

The Department of Special Investigation has indicted 25 red shirt protesters and pro-Thaksin Shinawatra politicians, including Mr Arisman, on terrorism charges, which carry a maximum penalty of death.

Mr Arisman led hundreds of protesters in storming the parliament during the red shirt demonstration on April 7.

A week later, scores of police raided a Bangkok hotel, where Mr Arisman and other red shirt leaders were staying, but police failed to arrest him after he was lowered from the third floor to supporters waiting below.

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Drug-law alarm bells

Articles of a draft drug-control law expected to be finalised by the end of this month are
consistent with procedures used in Vietnam and China, and could result in drug users
being compelled to perform forced labour, Human Rights Watch has warned.

Joe Amon, director of HRW’ s health and human rights division, said both Vietnam and
China “ have reportedly offered assistance to Cambodia on drug policy” .

“ There is a real danger that Cambodian centres will follow the Chinese or Vietnamese
model – longer periods of detention and detainees forced to labour for private
companies,” he said.

A recent version of the draft law includes an article stipulating that treatment periods at
government-run centres can last for up to two years.

Amon said on Sunday that the present law did not specify minimum or maximum periods
for rehabilitation, but that “ the current practice is to detain people for three to six months,
sometimes a year” .

Rights groups have reported that detention periods for drug users are longer in China and
Vietnam, though Amon said this approach had not worked.

Neak Yuthea, director of the department of legislation, education and rehabilitation at
the National Authority for Combating Drugs, confirmed that Cambodia had looked to
Vietnam while drafting drug-control and rehabilitation policies.

“ We learnt from Vietnam about how they proceed in their centres and how they care for
their addicted people so that we will apply it to Cambodia,” he said.
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