Monthly Archives: August 2011

Ruling Party in Cambodia threatens to kill opposition activist

You know the election is near when CPP officials threaten to kill anybody who joins the SRP

CPP official threatens to kill opposition activist

27 August 2011
By Ratha Visal
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Soch
Click here to read the original article in Khmer

A report from Ratanakiri indicated that a CPP provincial official threatened to kill anybody who would join the opposition SRP party.

A resident of Norng Hay village, Seda commune, Lumphat district, Ratanakiri province, had accused Thom Bun Thong, the principal of the Norng Hay elementary school and a local CPP official, of discrimination and of violating the villagers rights to choose their political party.

The resident added that, in the past, he did not yet join any political party, but that he has a good relationship with another village resident who is a SRP activist. Because of that, Thom Bun Thong, the school principal, accused him and threatened him. The resident indicated that he was concerned for his safety: I am reporting this so that everybody hear about it, so that there are arrangements made for me, so that there is a resolution for me. I am afraid that one day in the future, somebody could sneak and kill me

On Saturday 27 August, Thom Bun Thong confirmed that it was his unintentional mistake because he was too drunk: He was my student, thats why I said that [to him]. I was wrong in what I said, I admit that. I did not threaten him at all. I know that he joins the SRP, I did not threaten him and I was not angry with him, I ask for an arrangement, there is nothing wrong.

Kong Srun, the deputy president of the CPP party in Lumphat district and also deputy-district governor, said that it could be individual problem, but not a party problem. He added that the CPPs goal it to have its party members adhere to loving and helping the people and that they respect the law. Joining a political party is the peoples right, they have no right to force others. But to have us threatening others to absolutely join our party otherwise, they would be killed the CPP does not need people who threaten and violate others rights.

On Friday 26 August, the ADHOC human rights group in Ratanakiri province, received a report about threat issued and request for its intervention in this case. ADHOC was also asked to follow up on the violation of freedom rights case against villagers who join a political party.

Chhay Thy, a provincial ADHOC official, confirmed that he will investigate this report in order to find out whether discrimination was true or not. He added that ADHOC will send a letter to ask for intervention from the local authority to summon those involved in this case in order to prevent the situation from deteriorating further. According to his explanation, it even involves shooting and such. This is an action to discourage the peoples freedom rights and it is also a political threat.

During the 2008 election, Funcinpec, the SRP and the CPP competed for 5 commune councilor seats in Seda commune, however, only CPP candidates were elected during that election. Sok Khet, a SRP activist from Seda commune indicated that he was also scorned and threatened by Thom Bun Thong several times in the past also, but he did not reply back.

Inauguration of Sam Rainsy Party Headquarter in Kompong Cham

New Regulation Short-Changes Domestic Workers

For Immediate Release

Cambodia: New Regulation Short-Changes Domestic Workers
Revised Labor Migration Policy Weak on Recruitment Abuses

(New York, August 30, 2011) Cambodias revised regulation on labor migration, approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen on August 17, 2011, falls far short of minimum protections needed to safeguard migrant domestic workers, Human Rights Watch said today. The regulation omits or only has vague protections for workers and does not adequately address such problems as debt bondage, illegal recruitment of underage workers, and forced confinement by recruitment agencies in Cambodia, Human Rights Watch said.

The Sub-Decree on the Management of the Sending of Cambodian Workers Abroad through Private Recruitment Agencies was drafted without consulting civil society organizations or migrant workers.

The Cambodian government didnt even bother to talk with domestic or international organizations involved in these issues, let alone the workers themselves, said Jyotsna Poudyal, childrens rights research fellow at Human Rights Watch. The result is a regulation that doesnt offer even minimum protections to Cambodians who face serious abuse when they agree to work abroad.

Human Rights Watch urged the Cambodian government to revise the regulation or adopt a new policy on recruitment agencies that would address key concerns, such as recruitment fees and debts, freedom of movement in training centers, and child recruitment. Such protections should be created in consultation with domestic and international organizations working on migration and trafficking and include detailed methods for enforcement, Human Rights Watch said.

Cambodians travel abroad for work to escape unemployment at home and to send remittances back to their families. Most go to Thailand, South Korea, and Malaysia. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that the number of Cambodian migrants in Thailand alone was 248,000 in 2008. Many migrants, especially domestic workers en route to Malaysia, are subject to a range of deceptive and exploitative practices by poorly monitored recruitment agencies in Cambodia.

Recruitment agencies, and the local brokers they pay by commission, often fail to provide full information to prospective migrants about their training, recruitment debts, and employment abroad. Others help falsify documents to get around Malaysias requirement that migrant domestic workers must be at least 21 years old. Many of those who migrate are under age 18.

Women and girls typically must turn over the first six to seven months of salary to repay exorbitant recruitment fees to their labor agents in Cambodia. Once they agree to migrate, the recruitment agents require them to live in training centers in Cambodia for months until they leave for Malaysia. The recruiters require workers to pay the recruitment fees even if they change their minds about migrating and return home. Many workers who come from poor households have little choice but to accept overcrowded living conditions in the training centers and the employment contracts that labor agents require them to sign to work as domestic workers in Malaysia.

The Cambodian government is well aware that recruitment agencies subject prospective workers, including children, to months-long confinement in overcrowded training centers, charge exorbitant recruitment fees, and harass them about repaying loans, Poudyal said. It is appalling that the new regulation fails even to mention these practices, which contribute to even graver abuses, including forced labor and trafficking.

The new regulation replaces a 1995 measure, Sub-decree No. 57 on the Sending of Cambodian Workers Abroad, and includes some positive changes, Human Rights Watch said. It assigns the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training the responsibility to inspect recruitment agencies. It requires the recruitment agencies to supply lawyers for migrants in legal proceedings abroad and contracts in the Khmer language between agencies and workers. It specifies decent living standards for the training centers though it does not specify the minimum requirements.

The new regulation includes penalties for violations by agencies. They begin with a written warning and can culminate in the revocation of an agencys operating license. Agencies may also lose all or part of a US$100,000 surety deposited with the government upon registration. However, the regulation does not create accessible complaint mechanisms.

Human Rights Watch said the regulation failed to include many provisions outlined in the International Labor Organizations (ILO) Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, an international treaty adopted in June 2011. Article 15 on recruitment agencies stipulates accessible complaint mechanisms, substantial penalties for agencies that violate standards, and prohibitions on salary deductions for recruitment fees.

The Cambodian government needs to get serious about protecting people who risk exploitation and abuse abroad to provide for their families, Poudyal said. To be effective, and to make a real difference in migrants safety, the government should set minimum standards, create rigorous monitoring, and enable prospective migrant workers to file complaints when mistreated.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on womens rights, please visit:

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For more information, please contact:
In New York, Jyotsna Poudyal (English): +1-212-377-9437; +1-917-576-6969 (mobile); poudyaj
In New York, Nisha Varia (English, Spanish): +1-212-216-1858; +1-917-617-1041 (mobile); or varian
In Bangkok, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); or robertp


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Youth can enforce democracy

Panha may be young but he commands respect from us all. He has worked tirelessly for free and fair election in Cambodia. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go.

We are all proud to have him as part of us and a true fighter for democracy.

Three young and dynamic young women are with me to train youth and women to register 30,000 new voters in Battambang-North of Cambodia. We have 45 days to go. It will be challenging. Had a great day today, despite heavy rain.

Youth Can Enforce Democracy

By Kristine Felisse Mangunay
Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:08 am | Monday, August 29th, 2011
1share19 14


He was only 8 years old when his father, a clerk at Cambodias Supreme Court, was killed by the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.
Thirty-five years after that murder, some of the leaders of the murderous regime are on trial for war crimes while the boy has become a fighter for democracyone of this years winners of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, dubbed Asias version of the Nobel Prize.
Though decades have passed since his father was killed, Koul Panha has not forgotten. He was on the verge of tears when he spoke of those dark times in his country during an interview with the Inquirer at the weekened.
Kouls father was picked up by soldiers of the Khmer Rouge in 1976 and ordered to gather beans.
My father knew that he would be faced with great danger. After a few days, I received information from the villagers that he was killed, Koul said.
The senior villagers told me that my father did not let the Khmer Rouge guards and soldiers kill him easily as he fought back.
The image of how his father must have died has remained indelible in Kouls mind. It taught him the value of democracy.
Fight for democracy
The Ramon Magsaysay Foundation cited Koul for his efforts at promoting fair and honest elections in Cambodia.
Five other recipients of this years awards for outstanding work in their respective fields come from India, Indonesia and the Philippines. The awarding ceremony will be held on Aug. 31 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
The awardees will each receive a certificate, a medallion and a cash prize.
It was the death of his father that pushed Koul to decide to be at the forefront of Cambodias struggle for democratization.
Koul believes the brutalities and the human rights abuses that he, his family and other Cambodians experienced while living under the thumb of the communist regime could be prevented in a stable, democratic country.
For this, he said, the advancement of a free electoral system was crucial.
Courageous leadership
In a fragile democracy like Cambodia a sustained work to aggressively campaign and advocate free, fair and meaningful elections is necessary in order to promote democracy, Koul said.
In its citation, the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation praised Koul for his determined and courageous leadership of the sustained campaign to build an enlightened, organized and vigilant citizenry who will ensure fair and free electionsas well as demand accountable governance by their elected officialsin Cambodias nascent democracy.
Images of how dangerous it was to live under the Khmer Rouge were still clear in Kouls mind as he recalled a time in 1975 when his family hid in a trench amid rumors that Phnom Penh, the capital, was going to be bombed.
When the Khmer Rouge took over the city that year, his family was forced to leave their house without being given a chance to take their possessions with them.
My mother complained and protested when the Khmer Rouge ordered us to leave our house, he said. My father stopped her, telling her that if she protested she could be shot.
The following year, the Khmer Rouge took away his father and shot him.
Free elections
Led by Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. It is said to have caused the death of 2 million peopleor as much as one-fourth of countrys populationfrom starvation, overwork, torture or execution.
The Khmer Rouge were driven from power in January 1979 by a Vietnamese invasion.
After graduating with a BS Chemical Industry Engineering degree in Phnom Penh in 1991, Koul joined the nonpartisan Task Force on Cambodian Elections. This eventually became the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (Comfrel).
In 1998, Koul became its executive director.
A main motivation for joining (this) came from my own experience. When I was a child, Phnom Penh was bombed many times. I did not want this to happen again, Koul said.
Comfrel network
After earning his masters degree in Politics of Alternative Development, Koul committed himself full time to Comfrels mission.
Under his leadership, the organization became the countrys leading independent center on electoral matters, now with a nationwide network of partners and more than 50,000 election volunteers.
In the 2008 elections, more than 10,000 of the centers volunteers were deployed to cover 60 percent of the electoral precincts.
Cambodias democratic progress has been slow and turbulent since the fall of the Khmer Rouge. It was only in 1993 when it held its first national elections. Since then, it has held five other national and local polls.
These elections were characterized by fraud, violence and factionalism.
Young democracy
Cambodias democracy can be referred to as a young democracy, Koul said. This democracy began recently, a short period after the genocide, post-conflicts, human rights abuses and oppression.
Owing to the countrys lack of democratic tradition, Koul had had to contend with harassment from parties who deemed political and electoral reforms acceptable only if they served their own interests.
Koul said that Comfrel began lobbying for the restoration of political stability and for a government commitment to violence-free polls.
In 2000, it took its campaign to the grassroots by conducting electoral activities calling, among others, for gender equality in electoral representation.
Long way to go
Koul is happy to see his efforts have not been in vain.
The major political players in Cambodia have accepted that peaceful regular elections are the proper legitimate mechanism for installing or removing a government, he said.
He said, however, that the country still had a long way to go.
Although there are legal frameworks and procedures for electoral democracy in Cambodia, the country still lacks strong democratic institutions and is threatened by the return of an authoritarian rule, Koul said.
To prevent this from happening again, Koul stressed the role of the youth and of education.
The youth have the power to enforce democracy for a better society. They have to get involved in politics so they can be trained to become leaders, he said.
Koul said the youth was the hope of every nation.
If they are informed, he said, then democracy can fully develop and the human rights violations that characterized the Khmer Rouge regime can be prevented.
Koul said winning the Ramon Magsaysay Award would be a source of energy for him which he could use to work harder.
This will further encourage the organizations that I work for, he said.

To Educate a Girl

Sending girls to school is a political commitment.

I just returned from a funeral of a supporter who died of cancer last night. His 17 year-old girl does not need to tell me that she needs support to finish school. Her father was her best friend. I made that commitment to her. For many years now, I am connected to an organization that provides scholarships to young women.

Help donate to Strey Khmer.

Human Rights and Aid to Cambodia

Defend Cambodia civil society. Defend the voices of the people. The law will allow the government to keep a close watch on NGOs and associations. Trade Union law is coming up. Defend our constitutional rights.

KI Media: Human Rights Watch’s letter to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Secuity.

Mu Sochua, MP

Cambodian Domestic Workers in Malaysia Speak Out Against Severe Abuse and Exploitation

A very moving press conference via skype.

The women’s cry for help can only be heard when concerned governments do not look at this issue as just human trade.

Families from provinces were also present at the press conference seeking for their lost daughters.

Government Sub-decree passed on 17 July, 2011 empty on protection and promotion of human rights of domestic workers, abolition of forced labor and debt bondage. Very weak measures for prosecution and safe repatriation and social re-integration of the survivors.

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