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Monday, April 04, 2011

Complainant Raises Names of More Defendants

Seng Theary, president of Centre for Justic and Reconciliation
 A US-Cambodian lawyer who lost family members to the Khmer Rouge says she will file the first civil party suit against regime cadre who are not currently in the custody of the UN-backed tribunal.

Seng Theary’s complaint names former Khmer Rouge commanders Meas Muth and Sou Met, in what she said is an effort to move the court forward on cases 003 and 004.

The court has so far only prosecuted one case, against torture chief Duch, and it is preparing for a second, against Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith. But the future of cases 003 and 004 remain unclear.

Those two cases, which the international prosecution has pushed forward against some judges at the court and the wishes of senior officials, would widen the scope of the tribunal and could mean more indictments.

“I want to claim full justice,” Seng Theary, who is also a complainant in the upcoming case against four jailed leaders, told VOA Khmer Monday. “I am aware that there is political interference in those cases, and I want to encourage other victims to participate in filing complaints for cases 003 and 004, where political leaders have declared the cases would not move.”

Government officials have said in the past there is no interference with the court, but Prime Minister Hun Sen and tribunal prosecutor Chea Leang have both said wider indictments have the potential of destabilizing the country.

The court has kept the names of potential defendants in cases 003 and 004 confidential. However, Meas Muth, a former division chief of the regime, and Sou Met, a central committee member, are both among a small group of cadre experts have said could be indicted in further trials.

Seng Theary’s potential complaint met with sharp recrimination from the court.

“Any names alleged by Theary Seng or anyone else is pure speculation,” tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen told VOA Khmer Monday. “And to start speculating on names of a confidential investigation under the pretext of being a civil party applicant is irresponsible and reckless and is contradictory to judicial due process.”

Seng Theary’s lawyer, Choung Chou Ngy, said Monday he had not yet filed documents with the court, but Rong Chhorng, head of the Victim’s Support Service, confirmed he had received an e-mail from her declaring her intent to file.

Meas Muth, who currently lives in a remote village in Samlot district, Battambang province, has said in the past that deaths under his watch were from “sickness, fever, lightning, drowning,” and did not constitute wrongdoing on his part. He has defended his position in the Khmer Rouge as a defender of Cambodia against foreign invasion.

Sou Met could not immediately be reached for comment.
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Provisions in NGO Law ‘Troubling’: Freedom House

The US-based Freedom House has echoed concerns from local groups that a draft law to regulate NGOs could have a detrimental effect on the country’s development.

In a statement issued Friday, Freedom House, a global watchdog for democratic principles, said the new NGO law “contains provisions that place troubling restrictions on the ability of NGOs to organize and function effectively.”

The statement comes as local groups say talks with the government over the law have yielded few changes to the draft, creating unease within the sector that the law can hamper NGO work.

Proponents of the law say it will regulate a large sector and have dismissed concerns the law will be abused to make work harder for groups that don’t see eye to eye with the government.

“The proposed law, in its current form, undermines the very basis of an independent and vibrant civil society and would have a chilling effect on democratic development in the country,” Paula Schriefer, Freedom House director of advocacy said in the statement. “These regulations should not be used as a tool to undermine fundamental freedoms related to association, expression, and assembly. Such rights are protected under the Cambodian Constitution and under the international treaties to which the Royal Government of Cambodia is a signatory.”

NGO officials met with the ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs last week, where they raised concerns over the latest draft of the law, which they said did not take into account their main concerns.

“In general we still have our worried points,” Sin Somony, executive director of the umbrella group Medicam, told VOA Khmer on Monday. NGOs have submitted their recommendations to the government, he said.

Those concerns include provisions in the draft that bans activities of organizations not registered with the government, Freedom House said.

“The draft is also vague in scope and contains ambiguous language that could make it easier for the government to arbitrarily shut down civil society groups or deny registration,” the group said. “Additionally, the current draft has no option for an appeals process—which had been present in the original version—leaving an organization with no recourse once it has been rejected by the government.”

Nouth Sa An, secretary of state for the Interior Ministry, said Monday the NGO recommendations have been forwarded to the draft law working group and that no more consultations with NGOs will be conducted before the draft is finalized and sent to the Council of Ministers for approval.
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Newport man gived £2.5K savings for Cambodian orphans

A NEWPORT man is investing £2,500 of his savings to travel to Cambodia and help with a project to build a new orphanage out there.

Aaron Jone

Aaron Jones, 20, will fly out to the country on April 17 to spend around five months working in the Chres village school and orphanage teaching English but is also hoping to help raise funds towards a project to build a better building for the children.

Mr Jones was inspired to go on the trip after spending 10 weeks in Rajasthan, India, at the end of last year teaching English and maths as part of a project run by Christian Aid and the Government's department for international development.

After seeing the severe poverty out there, the British Gas call centre worker and nightclub photographer decided he wanted to do more to help.

This led to him saving up for the trip to Cambodia where he will teach in the orphanage and also try and pass on skills including ICT and buying and selling to help local people better their lives.

He is also hoping to raise around £1,500 to donate towards a £40,000 project the orphanage is leading to see a new building built for the children.

He said: "The orphanage they are currently in is just a shack so they really want to have a new building for the children."

To help Mr Jones with his fundraising, visit or call 07939254622.
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