Saturday, February 19, 2011

UN Rep Investigates Land Dispute

Surya Subedi talks with Hun Sen (L) in Phnom Penh, Jan 19, 2010. (AFP)
Radio Free Asia

A UN official visits the site of a land dispute as part of his inquiry into human rights in Cambodia.

A United Nations human rights representative visited a Cambodian village community embroiled in a land dispute on Friday as part of a fact-finding mission for a set of wider reforms he is recommending to the country’s leadership.

The visit by Surya Subedi, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, came on the fourth day of a 10-day trip to the country, and followed a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen where he expressed concerns about the country’s court system and a new law on nongovernmental organizations.

Subedi told RFA that it is important to take the complaints of Cambodia’s rural population into consideration in addition to speaking with high-level officials while forming an overview of the country’s human rights situation.

“I wanted to speak to people from all walks of life in Cambodia, and I wanted to see the villagers for myself to listen to them directly—their grievances—and then see for myself the area where they are living now and the conditions there as well. This is purely a fact-finding mission and … [for] information gathering,” Subedi said.

He traveled to the site, in central Kompong Chhnang province, to investigate a land dispute case in which NGO worker, who represented the villagers, had been jailed. The dispute was with a company owned by Lauk Chumteav Chea Kheng, the wife of Cambodia’s mining minister.

Land grab

Sam Chankea was convicted in January of “defamation” against KDC International Co. after he told RFA in a 2009 interview that the company had committed an “act of violation” when it confiscated land from the villagers, because the provincial court had yet to rule on the disputed property.

The dispute dates back to 2002 when KDC International took possession of some 184 hectares (455 acres) of land from more than 100 families in the area.

“I now have a much better idea and information about the plight of the villagers and the disputed land," Subedi said.

"I will try to speak to government authorities about what they have been doing about this dispute and what the response of the other party has been and what other avenues there are to look after the interests of the villagers,” he said.

“I will consider whether I will need to intervene at certain levels of government authorities, and if I decide to do so, I will not hesitate to do so.”

Subedi said that he had a number of meetings scheduled with various ministers and that he planned to use the Pursat land case as an example of how the government must work to improve its human rights record.

Fact-finding meetings

In addition to meeting with the prime minister, Subedi has been busy since arriving in Cambodia on his fourth mission for the U.N., meeting with officials from the ruling party and from the opposition, observing trials, and speaking with NGOs.

On Wednesday, the special rapporteur met with Thun Saray, director of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) to discuss the concerns of domestic NGOs operating in the country.

“The problems include a land crisis that adversely affects the people. We propose a swift and satisfactory solution for those who have been affected by the land conflict,” Thun Saray said in an interview recounting their conversation.

The land issue in Cambodia dates from the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime, which forced large-scale evacuations and relocations throughout the country.

This was followed by mass confusion over land rights and the formation of squatter communities when the refugees returned in the 1990s after a decade of civil war.

Housing Cambodia’s large, young, and overwhelmingly poor population has posed a major problem ever since.

Judicial reform

Thun Saray also advised Subedi that Cambodia’s notoriously ineffective judicial system is in dire need of restructuring.

“The justice system should be reformed. We all see the shortcomings and flaws in the system. The reform should start by looking into the flaws point by point. For example, the flaws happen in the process of trials and court proceedings which result in unjust rulings,” he said.

“The public is unsatisfied with the current process of court trials. We have to look, investigate these shortcomings, and fix them.”

More than one-quarter of Cambodian court defendants reported being tortured or coerced into confession, and ordinary people said they lack faith in the justice system, according to a 2009 judicial review released by Cambodian anti-corruption organization The Center for Social Development.

Poor training of the judiciary, bribery, torture, underfunding, a lack of independence, and frequent pre-trial detention of prisoners for terms exceeding the legal limit of six months are among problems with the judiciary often cited by rights organizations.

At the end of his last visit in June, Subedi said the judiciary faced “tremendous challenges in delivering justice for the people of the country, especially the poor and marginalized,” adding that some judges were simply not interested in upholding the law.

NGO law

Thun Saray also discussed a controversial draft law put forth by Cambodia’s National Assembly which would severely curtail the ability of foreign and domestic NGOs operating in the country to carry out their work.

Last month a U.S. State Department spokesman said the United States had “serious concerns about the law as drafted and strongly opposes the enactment of any law that would constrain the legitimate activities of NGOs.”

The State Department urged Phnom Penh to consult with NGOs on the substance of the draft law and to “reconsider whether such a measure is even necessary.”

Cambodia’s government has long had an antagonistic relationship with human rights groups and NGOs operating in the country.

Last year, Hun Sen said he wanted the U.N. human rights office in Cambodia closed and its representative, Christophe Peschoux, sacked.

Subedi is expected to hold a press conference in Phnom Penh on Feb. 24 during which he will review some of the key issues raised during his visit before compiling a report for the United Nations.

He last presented his findings to the U.N. in September 2010.

Reported by Pon Bun Song and Khe Sonorng for RFA’s Khmer service. Translated by Vuthy Huot. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.


Anonymous said...

Why do Kos Trol, sea and lands proximately over 10 000 km2 have been lost to Vietnam by who treaty? Why don't Cambodia goverment transparency explain to cambodia army at front line and the whole nation about this? Why don't they include this into education system? Why?

Cambodian army are fighting at front line for 4.6 km2 and what's about over 10 000km2 of cambodia to Vietnam. Nobody dare to talk about it! Why? Cambodian army you are decide the fade of your nation, Cambodian army as well as cambodian people must rethink about this again and again. Is it fair?

Kos Trol, Sea and lands over 10 000km2 have been lost to Vietnam by who treaty at 1979 to 1985 treaty! treaty! Cambodian army at front line as well as all cambodian people must rethink again about these issues. Are cambodian army fighting to protect the Cambodia Nation or protect a very small group that own big lands, big properties or only protecting a small group rather in the real name of protecting khmer nation?

Cambodian army at front line suffer under rain, wind, bullets, bombs,lack of foods, lack of nutrition, their families have no health care help, no securities after they die but a very small group eat well, sleep well, sleep in first class hotel with air conditioning with young girls message, have super health care from oversea medical treatment, they are billionairs, millionairs who sell out the country to be rich and make cambodian people suffer everyday as cambodian people know already.

Who signed the treaty 1979-1985 that result lost over 10 000 km2 of Cambodia??? Why don't they transparency inform all Cambodian and cambodian army at front line about these issues? Why don't include Kos Trol ( Kos Trol size is bigger than the whole Phom Phen with planty of natural resources ) in education

Smart Khmer Girl Ms.Rattana Keo,

Anonymous said...

Dear Rattana Keo,
You are perfectly right. Why we support the government who has secretly worked with Vietnam to transfer Cambodia into Vietnam and is fighting with Thailand by letting our nationalists to be killed?
At present ebside of 10,000 km2 of seas and land being lost to Vietnam, Hun Sen gang has given hundred of thousands of ha of lands to Vietnam army and companies in the anme of development by evicting Cambodian from their lands of birth.
To transfer Cambodia into Vietnam power, all provincial governors around Cambodia have to work and follow instruction from their Vietnamese provincial governors counterpart. Example, Kandal governor must follow instruction from Ho Chiminh Governor, other cities are the same. These top secrets are only known between Vietnamese authorities and CPP authorities.

Without a strong protest like Egyp, Tunisy, and amny others, Cambodia will be a province of Vietnam in a near future.

Areak Prey

Anonymous said...

How to succeed in protest?
Get more people out
to protest half ml.
to a million strong.
Dare to die for
in PHNOM PENH 500000
Each province 200000
Each Srok 20,000
Provide enough food
and water.

Anonymous said...

glad to see the UN team changed their way in order to be more helpful and effective in calling for more much needed reforms in cambodia in many ways. this is a good approach as it is either a threat nor an unproductive work. from their field work, i hope the UN will make strong recommendations to cambodia for reforms, not just on human rights, but on law to curb abuse, etc, etc... in cambodia. thank you land god bless cambodia.

Anonymous said...

it's always better to interview and talk and mingling with the local people from all walks of life, instead of just buy from hearsay, etc. that's a positive change in the way the UN is trying to help cambodia. thank you, UN and god bless cambodia.

Anonymous said...

CAMBODIA is corrupted to the bone. Regime change is the only hope for Cambodia. UN investigates, UN found problem. UN did nothing. UN left. Hun San is happy. Things back to old evil way again.

Anonymous said...

let the UN investigate for themselves. in the past they kept on buying hearsay from people like you and thus, it goes no where because you are a liar, a crook. now UN have to do field work for themselves, ok! by the way, even your tone of voice sounded so biased toward cambodia because that all you focus on, attacking mr. hun sen and forget all about cambodia as a nation. glad to see the UN stop buying hearsay or rumor from biased or unprofessional individuals like you, really! god bless cambodia.

Anonymous said...

Hun Sen Sadat sicho smart, intelligent as "A MEI A THONG" flattering around him, just like in the past during Sihanouk reign his entourage kiss butt until head up today the Westward journey of HO CHI MINH dream,Kampuchea Krom Champa to cambodia, Kos Tral, Lao... many treaty signed with youns since 1980 and messed up with Paris peace agreement in 1991 that Asean and U.N signed it...why his smart butt has not used in the 1st place until too late trapped by Thai who's seen Vietnam flap flop with Sen to encroach more land in Cambodia why Thai is stupid not to play to get more land same like YOUN (sic) "DAMRES CHIK KOR ENG"
Hun Sen smart ass fought with many front lines with International Global Withness, International Human right watchs, U.N envoys, NGO you names it...Sidat Sicho Sen
a strong man butt....2000 gold star armed forces general, 2000 Doctor Kvess from Hanoi...GOD help me....please send some Khmer star to help Colonel KADAFI in Libya trouble by protestors to bring his butt down in decade of power hungry.

Get advices from real patriotic
khmers not from Khmer Viteminh or "A Mey A thong"

Anonymous said...

This fucken international tourist Subadi should raise to the UN to order the fuck thai army stop shooting Khmer civilian alond the border.

Anonymous said...

ratana keo I love you

Anonymous said...

RE:"UN Rep Investigates Land Dispute"

I thought UN would investigate about Thai/Cambo dispute.

But it's about lad disputes within the land dispute.

Hun Sen has the land dispute with his neighbor as well as his own people.

Reminds me of a poster who wrote" How could I protect my own country, when I can' t even protect my own vegetable garden (from thief, Hun Sen and his clan.)