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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Russian pedophile arrested in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, June 6 (UPI) -- A known Russian pedophile was arrested in Cambodia and is now awaiting deportation, officials say.

Alexander Tro­fimov, a Russian national also known as Stanislav Molodyakov, was arrested Monday in Kandal province's Ponhea Leu commune, The Phnom Penh Post reported.

 "We have been trying to arrest him for months. As of now, he's in detention at the Department of Immigration. We must deport him soon following the order from the [Interior] minister.  But we are now discussing about the deportation," National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said.

Activists said they welcome the arrest and deportation, but say it didn't come soon enough.

Tro­fimov was convicted of sexually abusing 17 Cambodian girls from 2005 to 2007. In December, he was given a royal pardon and released from prison after serving just half of his eight-year sentence. He is also wanted by Interpol for allegedly raping six girls in Russia.

 "This sends a message that there should be an amendment to the law … to make it mandatory for any child sex convict to be deported from the country," said Samleang Seila, director of Action Pour Les Enfants.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, said Trofimov should be extradited to Russia for prosecution there, but said further questions remained about how Trofimov eluded the authorities for so long.

 "The Cambodian government cannot just wash its hands by deporting Trofimov and calling the case closed. There also needs to be a serious and impartial investigation about how these events came to pass," he said. . Read more!

Cambodia, UN hold forum to promote women's entrepreneurship

Phnom Penh, June 6 (Xinhua-ANI): Cambodia's ministry of women' s affairs and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on Wednesday jointly organized a forum on women's entrepreneurship promotion to discuss challenges women are facing in business management.

The one-day forum was attended by some 80 high-level government representatives, international experts, leaders of women's business associations, women's producers groups, entrepreneurs and economic experts, Ing Kantha Phavi, minister of women's affairs, said in her opening address.

 "The event is aimed at creating a platform of exchange and a network among the key players in the government of Cambodia, development partners, and private sector to identify the specific challenges that women entrepreneurs usually experience and explore some of the good practices on how to overcome these constraints," she said.

 In Cambodia, more than 60 percent of micro, small- and medium- sized enterprises are owned by women, but those enterprises are very small and informal ones with only a few employees, she said, adding that those women business owners still face a different kind of challenges compared to their male fellow-entrepreneurs.

Those challenges include limited access to adequate skills training, land ownership, access to advanced education, more importantly access to markets, business information or financial resources, she added. "I believe that the forum will identify some of the key priorities for improving the economic status of Cambodian women," said the minister.

The UNDP deputy country director Sophie Baranes said at the forum that the economic empowerment of women is a key strategy to promote gender equality and poverty reduction in Cambodia and it is clearly articulated in specific targets under the Cambodian Millennium Development Goal 3 to be achieved by 2015. (Xinhua-ANI) . Read more!

Malaysian Couple Breaks Maid’s Jaw

A Cambodian maid is hospitalized after allegedly suffering extensive abuse at the hands of her employers.

Police officers speak to a group of girls after they were rescued from a human trafficking ring, Oct. 11, 2011.
  A Cambodian maid is recuperating at a hospital in Malaysia after being severely beaten by her employers, highlighting the plight of women from some of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia who seek work abroad, only to find themselves held captive and abused with little recourse.

Chea Phalla, 28, is being treated in a hospital in the capital Kuala Lumpur after having her jaw broken and being tortured by the couple that hired her to clean their home, according to an official with the Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia who met with the victim.

Third secretary at the Cambodian Embassy Chhay Kosal told RFA that Chea Phalla’s employer, hairdresser Tan Mong Huwai, had tried to send her back to Cambodia so that he and his wife, Eng Lay San, could get away with their crime.

 “When she arrived at the embassy, her condition was already critical. At first she could barely speak. Her boss slapped her in the face until her jaw was broken,” Chhay Kosal said.

 “They wanted to finish by sending her back to Cambodia, but the company that recruited her [Cambodia Labor Supply] knew about the torture and stopped them,” he said, adding that the company was assisting the embassy in bringing the case to court.

 “We will not accept this. We will file a lawsuit against her boss.”

Chhay Kosal said that Chea Phalla is recuperating after having rested in the hospital.

The couple that employed Chea Phalla, both 36 years old, has been charged with “causing grievous hurt” to the housemaid between August last year and May.

They allegedly beat Chea Phalla with an empty bottle, a pair of shoes, a weighing scale, an iron, an aluminum rod, a kitchen knife, a plastic chair, and a pail at various times during her employment, Malaysia’s The Star newspaper reported.

In addition to refusing her food and making her work long shifts without rest, the maid claimed that her employers forced her to eat and drink her own feces and urine.

The charge of “causing grievous hurt,” under Section 326 of Malaysia’s Penal Code, provides a maximum jail sentence of up to 20 years and a fine or whipping upon conviction.

History of abuse

Malaysia employs about two million foreign workers, mostly from less developed regional countries in jobs that local workers prefer not to take, including on construction sites and in plantations. Another two million are thought to work illegally in the country.

Thida Khus, executive director of Cambodian women’s rights group Silaka, said there are no accurate statistics of how many Cambodian women are currently working Malaysia.

“The companies often dispatch maids to work without monitoring their conditions,” he said.

“We don’t know how many women are working in Malaysia because they don’t maintain contact with embassy officials.” Some estimates put the number of Cambodian women employed in Malaysian households at around 50,000.

A string of similar cases of abuse has led to strained ties between Malaysia and some of its Southeast Asian neighbors in recent years.

Cambodia imposed a freeze on sending domestic workers in October last year after activists exposed dozens of cases of sexual abuse, overwork, and exploitation among Cambodian maids in Malaysian homes.

Indonesia, which is the largest provider of domestic workers to Malaysia, had a similar ban in place since 2009, but lifted it recently after Malaysia pledged better protections for maids, including granting them one day off a week.

In May, the Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia assisted 10 Cambodians who had been ill-treated by their employers.

And in March, a Malaysian couple was charged with killing domestic worker Mey Sichan, 24, who was allegedly subjected to repeated physical abuse and starved.

Reported by Mao Sotheany for RFA’s Khmer service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes. Read more!

With Votes In, High Expectations for New Commune Councils

What most voters want out of local leadership will be up to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, which won a sweeping majority of commune chief seats—an unofficial estimated 1,592 of 1,633.

With their fingers freshly inked from Sunday’s polls, voters said Tuesday they were looking for security and good governance from their local commune councils, while Cambodia’s main opposition parties began to look ahead to national elections next year.

“I want a good commune council,” said Has Tak, 22, who is married and lives in Sambor commune, Kampong Speu province, some 40 kilometers west of the capital. Out here, many fields have yet to be plowed, and they remain dry, despite the onset of the rainy season last month.

For Has Tak and other voters like him, day-to-day needs are the most pressing, like the red-earth road, which the rain has washed away in some sections. “The road is mostly broken down, and it’s hard to ride a motorcycle on it,” Has Tak said Tuesday. “The commune council must consider this, and help the poor people.”

“I want security,” said a 49-year-old woman, who takes care of 2 hectares of rice fields and raises chickens to support six family members. “We need electricity in every commune and in every province,” she added.

What most voters want out of local leadership will be up to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, which won a sweeping majority of commune chief seats—an unofficial estimated 1,592 of 1,633.

 Despite the ruling party’s landslide, however, opposition leaders say they made gains with members on lower council seats, which will help them in their bid for parliamentary seats next year.

Both the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties have said they would consider joining together for the national election, hoping to leverage their grass roots popularity in next year’s national election. Each party won about 20 commune chief positions each.

 Speaking to VOA Khmer by phone from Paris, Sam Rainsy said the change in local leadership will allow a change of village chiefs, and that will bring “big changes” in the national election next year. “We will bring absolute change,” he said, though he remains in exile and faces a number of criminal charges he maintains are politically motivated.

 Kem Sokha, who leads the smaller Human Rights Party, said the local victories will be a key to political change, but that will require collaboration by the opposition.

“The main foundation of communists and dictators is at the grass roots,” he said. “So in this step we can change a lot of village chiefs, if the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party work together.

In Kampong Cham, for example, the two opposition parties won some 300,000 votes in this election, he said. That could mean a big difference in national parliamentary elections if the parties join, he said.

Cheam Yiep, a lawmaker for the ruling party, said he was not concerned with the political strategy of the opposition. “This depends on the voters and their will,” he said. Read more!