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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tribunal Observers Split Over Value of Two More Cases

Peter Maguire, a former law professor at Columbia University and the author of “Facing Death in Cambodia,” told a group of students at Bard College, in New York, this week.

With the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal prepared to open a major trial for four jailed regime leaders later this month, observers are divided as to whether its completion will be enough to count the court a success.

The court has two more cases before it that would require five more indictments, but these have created continued controversy and debate inside and outside the court.

Peter Maguire, a former law professor at Columbia University and the author of “Facing Death in Cambodia,” told a group of students at Bard College, in New York, this week that Case 002 will be all the court can manage.

“Their job is to try the senior Khmer Rouge leaders,” he said. “Prime Minister Hun Sen has made it very clear that he wants no more trials in Cambodia. There will be no Case 003, so let’s see if they can complete Case 002 before the defendants die. If they fail to complete Case 002 before the defendants die, then this trial, this series of trials, will be a failure.”

Douglas Irvin, an international affairs doctorate student at Rutgers University and a researcher for the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said Case 002, to try leaders Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, should be the court’s priority.

“If they succeed, in the perspective of the United Nations, I think this is sufficient,” he said. “Going further than 002 is not as important as achieving 002. And the reason for that is you can keep on trying people indefinitely and you can end up with so many people to bring in. It’s pointless to a certain extent. I think the value is symbolism, taking the people on the top to try them and hopefully find them guilty.”

However, Mary Orsini, a law student at Rutgers who has done research for the Documentation Center, said the court should go beyond Case 002.

“Although some people may think the UN should concentrate on those cases, the bottom line is that when the court was initiated, they discussed at least 10 to 15 people,” she said. “This has gone back and forth. But the fact that we end up with five, that’s not the initial purpose of the court.”

Elena Lesley, an international affairs student at Rutgers who blogs on the tribunal for the Phnom Penh Post, said the court should “try to do both.”

“I don’t think they should allow the court to be derailed by this controversy involving cases 003 and 004,” she said. “But I do think that prosecution of Case 002 is important.”

Andrew Cayley, the tribunal’s international prosecutor, who gave a talk at Rutgers recently, said, “There isn’t any other way to deal with” cases 003 and 004.

“There has to be an investigation,” he said. “There has to be a consideration by the investigating judges of the evidence, and then there either has to be a dismissal order or a closing order, an indictment. That’s what the rules say.”
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Migrant Workers Struggling to Escape Thai Floods

Migrant workers from Burma, who were trapped in floods and have been out of work for weeks, hold food rations in Thailand's Ayutthaya province November 1, 2011.

Migrant workers, largely from Burma, Cambodia and Laos, are still struggling to escape inundated areas of Thailand.

There are no reliable estimates of how many people are stranded in the scores of flooded communities in Bangkok and areas north. Aid workers say that among the millions affected in Thailand, as many as 600,000 migrant workers, largely from Burma, are stranded in worsening conditions.
Plight of migrants
Trapped in apartments without electricity, food or drinking water, many are forced to pay exorbitant fees to be transported to dry areas.

Despite the situation, many government shelters have not reached capacity as residents stay with relatives or remain in their flooded homes to protect their possessions.

Human Rights and Development Foundation consultant Andy Hall says the plight of the migrant workers remains difficult.

“Why are the migrant [workers] staying there? They are staying there because maybe they do not understand the situation, maybe they are scared because the do not have documents, maybe they are being coerced to stay in their communities there are mafia [style] organizations in those areas who want to prevent undocumented workers coming in contact with authorities,” said Hall.

Thai industries are estimated to employ more than two-million migrant workers. Many of these workers are employed in construction and industrial estates in the provinces near the capital, Bangkok, where flooding has been concentrated.

Mekong Migration Network spokesperson Jackie Pollock says many migrant workers, especially from Burma, face ‘neglectful discrimination’ due to language barriers with Thai aid organizations.

“The relief services have got to reach the migrants," she said. "So I would think it is getting interpreters together with the most organized coordinated relief services, maybe the Thai Red Cross, the organizations which can get out there and really reach people taking these interpreters with them. The Thai Red Cross they are very happy to get to the migrants, they just cannot reach them.”

Those migrants who are officially registered with the government are wary to return home, because their work permits are void once they leave the country.

But thousands of Burmese migrant workers have fled to the Thai border town of Mae Sot to return to Burma. Thai authorities are reported to have been detaining many because they failed to have adequate documentation.

Aid workers say Thai and Burmese authorities have moved to stop guards at border checkpoints from demanding bribes from the fleeing workers. But locals report that Burmese immigration authorities are allowing only 150 people to pass into Burma each day, leaving a massive backlog.

Human Rights and Development Foundation’s Hall says the plight of the migrant workers remains a crisis the government should address.

“The ministry of labor should be responsible, but it seems to be that because of the politics involved in this nobody is raising the issue of migrant protection and we see once again that the migrants at a time of crisis are being left behind and they are being shifted to brokers who are exploiting them and also the law enforcement agencies,” added Hall.

The Mekong Migration Network says Thailand must allow registered migrant workers to temporarily leave Thailand and return once the crisis passes without any penalties to assist in the economic recovery.
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Cambodia arrests two generals for drug trafficking

PHNOM PENH, November 1, 2011- Two high-ranking Cambodian army generals have been arrested for allegedly trafficking methamphetamine, police said Tuesday.

Two-star generals Lay Virak and Khuon Roeun, who also act as advisors to the defence ministry, were detained on Monday with nearly one kilogramme of the drug in their possession, national police spokesman Kirth Chantharith told AFP.

“They were arrested while exchanging the drug,” he said, without specifying who the other party was in the deal.

The police spokesman said the arrests were made following months of surveillance.

Cambodia has ramped up its war on drugs in recent months, resulting in hundreds of arrests, some involving high-profile officials.

Earlier this year, the chief of Cambodia’s anti-drug trafficking agency was charged with accepting bribes in drugs cases.

Cambodia became a popular trafficking point for narcotics, particularly methamphetamines and heroin, after neighbouring Thailand toughened its stance on illegal drugs in 2002.

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