Newly elected must declare assets: ACU

A man walks past the Anti-Corruption Unit headquarters in Phnom Penh. The unit issued a request for all newly elected commune chiefs to declare their assets. Pha Lina

Andrew Nachemson and Niem Chheng
The Phnom Penh Post,  Thu, 13 July 2017

The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has demanded that all new commune chiefs and councillors elected at the June 4 local elections submit asset declarations to the unit and reminded those who were re-elected to update their declarations.

In two statements signed by ACU Chairman Om Yentieng, the body requested that the Interior Ministry submit a complete list of all the names of newly elected officials and informed all officials of the impending submission deadline.

“The ACU is honoured to inform all members of the commune council . . . that the ACU will organise an asset declaration event within 30 days after taking office,” one statement says. It tells incoming officials that they will have a month from July 15 to submit their assets. Officials who retained their seats have to resubmit by January, it says.

The process has been previously criticised as ineffective – and even pointless – due to the fact that the asset declarations are not made public. Instead, they remain in a sealed folder at the ACU and are opened only in case of an investigation.

“We have been advocating and will continue to advocate for an amendment of the Anti-Corruption Law to require asset declaration be made publicly accessible,” Transparency International Cambodia Director Preap Kol said. “We hope the Government and concerned parties will consider this proposal.”

The organisation Accountability Cambodia last year appealed to Cambodia’s politicians to voluntarily disclose their assets, publishing the financial records from a CNRP lawmaker and the president of the minor Khmer Power Party.

Twelve council candidates from the Grassroots Democracy Party also made declarations, although little success was had in getting declaration from the major parties.

Cambodia National Rescue Party Deputy President Mu Sochua said the opposition intends to require public declarations should they win power at the July national election.

“It doesn’t show accountability to the people who we’re supposed to represent if we hide the facts,” Sochua said, dismissing the idea of the CNRP taking the lead in issuing public asset declarations for its own elected officials.

“We’d rather not make it an exception, we’d rather it be the law.”

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Woman arrested for Kem Ley remarks

Officials escort Heng Leakhena out of the Ministry of Interior, where she was questioned before being sent to court yesterday for allegedly accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen of killing political analyst Kem Ley in a video posted on Facebook. Heng Chivoan

Meas Sokchea and Mech Dara
The Phnom Penh Post,  Thu, 13 July 2017

A woman who used her Facebook page to accuse Prime Minister Hun Sen of killing Kem Ley was arrested yesterday, the latest in a crackdown on a growing list of critics who have linked the political analyst’s assassination to the Cambodian government.

During the anniversary ceremonies for Ley’s death earlier this week, Heng Leakhena, dressed in a shirt and cap bearing the logo of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, uploaded a video of herself accusing the premier of orchestrating the murder of the widely admired analyst.

“[It was] the contemptible [Hun] Sen, there is no other,” Leakhena says in the video. “His children are murderers stained with the blood of Kem Ley too.

“Understand that Kem Ley died with pride, and there were Cambodians across the nation supporting him who came to celebrate him without [the funeral organisers] spending any money.”

Apparently comparing the breadth of the outpouring of grief for Ley to what could be expected for Cambodia’s strongman, she added: “If Hun Sen dies, [he] would be dragged into a mouse’s hole.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that Leakhena was being questioned at the ministry and will be taken to court. “She deserves imprisonment. We arrested her and we will send her to the court for sentencing,” Sopheak said, declining to say what charges she could face.

“Wait to see how many years she will be imprisoned. This is Kem Ley’s soul entering her body, making [her] go to jail.”

On Tuesday, a day prior to Leakhena’s arrest, one of Hun Sen’s advisers, Noranarith Anandayath, had shared her post to his own Facebook page, appending an allegation that she had “publicly defamed” Hun Sen, which he said was unforgivable and should invite legal actions.

CNRP Deputy President Pol Ham distanced his party from Leakhena, saying that her being dressed in opposition clothing did not make the party responsible for her actions.

“We don’t know who she is. There is no one letting [her] wear the party shirt to insult like this,” he said. “[We] have [guidelines] not to use coarse words. If she acts like this she has to take responsibility for herself.”

Former CNRP President Sam Rainsy, however, has himself claimed Ley’s murder was an act of “state-sanctioned terrorism” – an accusation that echoed the sentiments of many Cambodians, but saw the self-exiled politician handed 20 months in prison for criminal defamation in May.

Thak Lany, a Sam Rainsy Party senator, was also given 18 months and fled the country after making a similar allegation.

Meanwhile, outspoken critic Kim Sok, who was arrested in February, is set to face trial on July 27, according to an announcement from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.

Sok faces a pair of defamation and incitement cases filed by Hun Sen for allegedly suggesting the ruling party was implicated in Ley’s killing. Sok’s lawyer, Choung Choungy, confirmed the investigation into his client had been closed and that he was preparing for trial.

“I will work hard defend his rights to the best of my ability,” Choungy said. The courts have so far denied Sok’s repeated appeals and requests for bail.

Meanwhile, the family of Ley yesterday also confirmed they were seeking legal counsel regarding the verdict handed down in the case of Ley’s killer, Oeut Ang.

Ang, who has insisted on the name Choub Samlab – or “Meet to Kill” in Khmer – and his motive as a $3,000 unpaid debt, was sentenced to life in prison in March.

Authorities have remained tight-lipped about the investigation into Ley’s murder, and even though some officials have suggested that he did not act alone – a view seemingly shared by many – no other suspects have been arrested.

“We refuse to accept this result,” said Ley’s brother, Kem Rithisith. “This was an injustice for the dead and [saying] he died owing money – this was unreasonable and wrong.”

“We want the court to find new evidence and the real perpetrator,” he added. “We do not think [Ang] was alone.”

Ang’s testimony mentioned the involvement of two accomplices – “Pou Lis”, an acquaintance from Thailand who Ang said arranged his only purported meeting with Ley, and “Chouk”, a Thai national who allegedly supplied the gun used to kill the popular political commentator.

Sao Kosal, from housing rights group Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, said he was consulting with Ley’s mother Phok Se about her views on the verdict.

“Because the case is a huge and controversial, it is hard to look for a lawyer to volunteer, but she said that she will work on it,” Kosal said.

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CPP ties to controversial election monitor deepen

CPP member and Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong was appointed vice president of the standing committee of controversial election monitor ICAPP. Facebook

Andrew Nachemson, The Phnom Penh Post
Thu, 13 July 2017

Against a backdrop of government criticism of local election watchdogs, Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong has been elected vice president of the standing committee of the election monitor ICAPP, which has frequently been criticised for indiscriminately offering its stamp of approval to otherwise controversial elections.

State newswire AKP announced Namhong’s election yesterday, while also noting that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party as a whole has also been appointed chair of the organisation’s Cultural Council. Interior Ministry Undersecretary of State Huy Vannak – who also heads a local journalist union – also received a position in ICAPP’s Media Forum bureau, it said.

AKP characterised the positions as “justice given by the Asian and European political parties to CPP in the cause of rescuing the nation from the genocidal regime and leading the country in a democratic way as well as defending peace and sustainable development”. It said the appointments were made late last week during a meeting in South Korea.

The announcement comes less than a week after the Interior Ministry threatened legal action against election local observers Comfrel and Nicfec – both members of the election monitoring coalition the “Situation Room” – for allegedly violating their political neutrality as mandated under the controversial Law on Associations and NGOs.

Vannak dismissed the idea that CPP members occupying senior roles in an election monitor like ICAPP might violate neutrality, saying critics think too negatively and don’t fully understand the organisation. “They can criticise any side of the coin, but if you think in a positive way and see their effort, those representatives work together for healthy democracy,” he said.

Vannak, who is also President of the Union of Journalist Federations Cambodia, maintained the role of ICAPP’s Media Bureau is to inform the public, with the goal of strengthening democracy. He added that the Cultural Council was first suggested by the late CPP stalwart Sok An, who himself once occupied the position of ICAPP standing committee vice president.

Human Rights Watch slammed the government’s treatment of The Situation Room in a statement on Monday, with Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson quoted as saying “The Cambodian government appears intent on quashing any challenges to its political control – and obviously doesn’t want any witnesses.”

Robertson levelled similar criticisms yesterday at the government’s deepened ties to ICAPP.

“The attacks on the Situation Room show that government is not serious about respecting human rights in the election process or listening to any sort of criticism,” Robertson said in an email.

“In reality, ICAPP and the Situation Room are not in the same league in terms of substance or commitment to protecting democratic rights, and only someone who has not been paying close attention would assume that ICAPP have any real credibility in this matter.”

Lee Morgenbesser, an Australian scholar who recently co-authored a paper on “shadow election observers” like ICAPP, wrote that the monitor approves of unfair elections to endow them with a false sense of legitimacy.

“The cracking down on the Situation Room is a way to avoid the objective judgment of Cambodia’s elections. By eliminating parallel voter tabulations, the CPP can turn to groups like ICAPP for a guaranteed positive assessment of the election,” he said in an email yesterday.

Mu Sochua, deputy leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party – which boycotted its seats in parliament for a year over alleged irregularities in the 2013 national election – said of the CPP’s relationship to ICAPP: “Any threat or challenge to a free and fair election is a concern to us.”

CPP spokesman Sous Yara said he was aware of Namhong’s appointment, but refused to answer questions about the possibility of bias. “You should learn about the institution’s work – Google it. Then you could make a good question,” Yara said. He added that he did not know what Namhong’s specific responsibilities would be at ICAPP.

Additional reporting by Kong Meta

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Busts on human trafficking double

Interior Minister Sar Kheng chairs a meeting held to discuss the anti-trafficking report for the first six months of 2017 yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Kong Meta and Martin de Bourmont
The Phnom Penh Post,  Wed, 12 July 2017

Operations against human trafficking networks increased by a whopping 127 percent compared to the same period in 2016, according to a six-month report released yesterday by the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT).

The report states that in the first six months of 2017, authorities launched 66 “crackdowns” – or investigations and raids on human trafficking networks – a marked increase over the 29 crackdowns executed during the same period last year. This year’s crackdowns resulted in 87 suspects being sent to court, compared to 70 in the same period last year.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Permanent Vice Chair of the NCCT Chou Bun Eng said the “increase is because of our efforts”, but did not elaborate on any other reasons behind the enormous spike.

According to the report, the number of documented cases of sex trafficking also doubled, with 50 cases documented in the past six months, compared to 25 cases in the same period last year.

Although the report does not say where victims were trafficked or at what point in the trafficking process they were rescued, it notes that 155 victims of trafficking were rescued in the first six months of 2017, compared to 87 in the first six months of 2016.

In her remarks, Bun Eng said that the increasing number of raids on trafficking networks indicated progress. However, she said, the report remains incomplete as Mondulkiri and Kampong Speu have yet to submit reports on human trafficking in their provinces.

She also reiterated the NCCT’s commitment to preventing all human trafficking activities, making a point to include commercial surrogacy under that umbrella. The industry was dragged out of the shadows last year when a government edict forbade the practice, and an Australian national and two Cambodian associates are currently on trial for allegedly facilitating surrogate matches.

Bun Eng also enumerated the challenges she perceived in bringing suspected traffickers to justice, saying, “some of the victims do not have obvious or solid evidence to burden the suspects and it consumes a lot of time to collect evidence”.

Some victims, Eng said, do not file complaints, thinking “as long as they get some compensation from the suspects they can just compromise”.

Contacted yesterday afternoon, Bun Eng was unable to comment further.

However, recent reports point to systemic failures on the government’s part as well. Last month, the US State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons report noted that while Cambodia made “significant efforts” to combat human trafficking, corruption and inflexibility impeded efforts to prosecute traffickers.

“[D]espite endemic corruption that contributes to trafficking in many sectors and among several vulnerable demographics, the government did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any complicit officials” in 2016, the US report says. It also states that by not using undercover methods to investigate human trafficking rings, the Cambodian government seriously limits its ability to arrest traffickers.

Moeun Tola, director of the labour rights group Central, agreed that allowing undercover investigations of human trafficking might lead to more arrests. “The very big fish seldom get caught,” he said.

At a more basic level, Tola said, recruitment agencies helping migrant workers move abroad should face more scrutiny. By charging high job “recruitment” fees to facilitate their job search abroad, said Tola, many of these agencies deliver workers into debt bondage.

There “should be a policy to not charge recruitment fees from workers”, said Tola, who said he believed foreign companies hiring Cambodian workers should pay the fees.

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Dissident monk claims his car was attacked to “silence” him

Activist monk But Buntenh’s car window, which was smashed yesterday in Kien Svay. Facebook

Soth Koemsoeun, The Phnom Penh Post
Wed, 12 July 2017

Prominent activist monk But Buntenh says his car was pelted with stones near a pagoda in Kandal province yesterday evening.

Buntenh, founder of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, said yesterday that the incident happened after 10pm near a pagoda in Kien Svay district’s Banteay Dek commune, after he had returned from a trip to Kampong Chhnang province, where he was invited on behalf of villagers who were refusing to hand an ancient statue over to the government.

While the window of his car was broken, he was not in the vehicle at the time and nobody was hurt.

The inside of But Buntenh’s car after a rock was thrown through the window yesterday. Facebook

Buntenh said that the perpetrators, who “have bad intentions by causing insecurity”, were likely trying to “silence” him and intimidate the members of his group because of their involvement in political activities.

“I have not filed a lawsuit for this case because I do not have trust in [the police] to find the offenders,” he said. “Informing the public is better than informing the police. I shall let the public make the judgment and now only all of you can help me.”

Local authorities could not be reached to confirm Buntenh’s account.

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ស្រ្តី​ម្នាក់​ទៀត ត្រូវ​បាន​ឃាត់​ខ្លួន​ព្រោះ​តែ​ចោទ​ក្រុម​គ្រួសារ​នាយក​រដ្ឋមន្រ្តី​ថា​សម្លាប់​លោក​កែម ឡី

ស្រ្តីឈ្មោះហេង លក្ខិណា ដែលចោទថា ការស្លាប់របស់លោកកែម ឡី គឺដោយសារលោកហ៊ុន សែន។

ដោយ វណ្ណ សុគន្ធា12/07/2017 rfi

នាយកដ្ឋាន​ប្រឆាំង​ភេរវកម្ម និង​ឧក្រិដ្ឋកម្ម​ឆ្លង​ដែន​នៃ​ក្រសួង​មហាផ្ទៃ នៅ​ព្រឹក​នេះ​បាន​ឃាត់​ខ្លួន​ស្រ្តី​ម្នាក់​នាំ​មក​សួរ​ចម្លើយ​ពាក់​ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​ការ​ចោទ​ប្រកាន់​ថា លោក​ហ៊ុន សែន និង​ក្រុម​គ្រួសារ​របស់​លោក​ជាប់​ពាក់​ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​ឃាតកម្ម​លើ​លោក​បណ្ឌិត​កែម ឡី។ ស្រ្តី​ម្នាក់​នេះ ដាក់​ឈ្មោះ​នៅ​លើ​ហ្វេសប៊ុក​ផ្ទាល់​ខ្លួន​ថា ហេង លក្ខិណា (Heng Leakhena)។ បន្ទាប់​ពី​បញ្ចប់​ការ​សាក​សួរ នាយកដ្ឋាន​ប្រឆាំង​ភេរវកម្ម និង​ឧក្រិដ្ឋកម្ម​ឆ្លង​ដែន បញ្ជាក់​ថា ស្រ្តី​ម្នាក់​នេះ​អាច​នឹង​បញ្ជូន​ទៅ​កាន់​តុលាការ​នៅ​ល្ងាច​នេះ។

ដើម​ហេតុ​ដែល​នាំ​ឲ្យ​មាន​ការ​ឃាត់​ខ្លួន​នេះ គឺ​បន្ទាប់​ពី​ស្រ្តី​ឈ្មោះ​ហេង លក្ខិណា បាន​ធ្វើ​ការ​ផ្សាយ​ផ្ទាល់​(live)​តាម​ហ្វេសប៊ុក​របស់​ខ្លួន​កាល​ពី​រសៀល​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​៩ កក្កដា នៅ​ក្នុង​ពិធី​បុណ្យ​គម្រប់​ខួប​មួយ​ឆ្នាំ​នៃ​ការ​បាញ់​សម្លាប់​លោក​កែម ឡី ដោយ​ចោទ​ថា ការ​ស្លាប់​របស់​លោក​កែម ឡី គឺ​ដោយ​សារ​លោក​ហ៊ុន សែន​ហើយ​ថែម​ទាំង​និយាយ​ទៀត​ថា ពូជ​និង​កូន​ចៅ​របស់​លោក​នាយក​រដ្ឋមន្រ្តី​សុទ្ធ​តែ​ដៃ​ប្រឡាក់​ឈាម​របស់​លោក​បណ្ឌិត។

ជា​ការ​កត់​សម្គាល់ ស្រ្តី​ម្នាក់​នេះ គឺ​ជា​មនុស្ស​ទី​៤​ហើយ​ដែល​ត្រូវ​បាន​អាជ្ញាធរ​ឃាត់​ខ្លួន​ដោយ​សារ​តែ​ការ​ចោទ​ប្រកាន់​ប្រមុខ​រដ្ឋាភិបាល​កម្ពុជា​ពាក់​ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​ការ​ស្លាប់​លោក​បណ្ឌិត​កែម ឡី​នេះ។ មនុស្ស​ដំបូង​គេ​ក្នុង​រឿង​នេះ គឺ​លោក​សម រង្ស៊ី ។ លោក​សម រង្ស៊ី ត្រូវ​បាន​លោក​នាយក​រដ្ឋមន្រ្តី​ប្តឹង​ដោយ​ផ្ទាល់​តែ​ម្តង​ទៅ​កាន់​តុលាការ ក្រោយ​អតីត​ប្រមុខ​បក្ស​ប្រឆាំង​រូប​នេះ បាន​ចោទ​ប្រកាន់​លោក​នៅ​ក្នុង​ថ្ងៃ​តែ​មួយ​ដែល​លោក​កែម ឡី​ត្រូវ​បាន​គេ​បាញ់​សម្លាប់។

ក្រោយ​មក​ទៀត គឺ​លោក​ស្រី​ថាក់ ឡានី សមាជិក​ព្រឹទ្ធសភា​គណបក្ស​សម រង្ស៊ី។ សមាជិក​ព្រឹទ្ធសភា​រូប​នេះ ក៏​ត្រូវ​បាន​លោក​ហ៊ុន សែន​ប្តឹង​ដែរ​ដោយ​សារ​តែ​ចោទ​លោក​ថា ទៅ​បាញ់​សម្លាប់​លោក​កែម ឡី។ ការ​ចោទ​ប្រកាន់​នេះ​បាន​ធ្វើ​ឡើង​នៅ​ក្នុង​វេទិកា​មួយ​ក្នុង​ខេត្ត​រតនគីរី កាល​ពី​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​២៩ ខែ​កក្កដា ឆ្នាំ​២០១៦។ ទាំង​លោក​សម រង្ស៊ី និង​លោក​ស្រី​ថាក់ ឡានី សុទ្ធ​តែ​ត្រូវ​បាន​លោក​នាយក​រដ្ឋមន្រ្តី​ប្តឹង​ទាមទារ​សំណង​ជំងឺ​ចិត្ត​តែ​១​រយ​រៀល​ប៉ុណ្ណោះ។
ដោយ​ឡែក​ខុស​ពី​អ្នក​ទាំង​ពីរ​ខាង​លើ លោក​គឹម សុខ អ្នក​ឃ្លាំ​មើល​បញ្ហា​នយោបាយ​និង​សង្គម​ដែល​ទើប​ចេញ​មុខ​សោះ ត្រូវ​បាន​លោក​ប្រមុខ​រដ្ឋាភិបាល​ខ្មែរ​ប្តឹង​ទាម​ទារ​សំណង​ជំងឺ​ដល់​ទៅ​៥០​ម៉ឺន​ដុល្លារ​អាមេរិក​ឯណោះ ព្រោះ​តែ​រឿង​ចោទ​ប្រកាន់​ដូច​គ្នា​នេះ ហើយ​នៅ​ពេល​នេះ លោក​គឹម សុខ​កំពុង​ត្រូវ​បាន​ឃុំ​ខ្លួន​បណ្តោះ​អាសន្ន​រង់​ចាំ​ជំនុំ​ជម្រះ​នៅ​ក្នុង​ពន្ធនាគារ​ព្រៃ​ស។

លោក​បណ្ឌិត​កែម ឡី អ្នក​វិភាគ​បញ្ហា​នយោបាយ និង​សង្គម​ដ៏​ល្បី​ឈ្មោះ​ ត្រូវ​បាន​ខ្មាន់​កាំភ្លើង​បាញ់​សម្លាប់​កាល​ពី​ព្រឹក​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​១០ ខែ​កក្កដា ឆ្នាំ​២០១៦។ ក្រោយ​ការ​បាញ់​សម្លាប់​នេះ លោក​នាយក​រដ្ឋមន្រ្តី​ហ៊ុន សែន ក៏​បាន​សម្តែង​ការ​សោក​ស្តាយ​ផង​ដែរ។ យ៉ាង​ណា​ក៏​ដោយ មាន​តែ​ជន​ឈ្មោះ​ជួប សម្លាប់​ម្នាក់​គត់​ដែល​ត្រូវ​បាន តុលាការ​កាត់​ទោស​ដាក់​ពន្ធនាគារ​អស់​មួយ​ជីវិត​ពី​បទ​ឃាតកម្ម​គិត​ទុក​ជា​មុន​លើ​លោក​កែម ឡី។ សម្រាប់​ក្រុម​អង្គការ​ស៊ីវិល​មួយ​ចំនួន​នៅ​កម្ពុជា នេះ​មិន​ទាន់​ជា​យុត្តិធម៌​នៅ​ឡើយ​ទេ។ ដូច្នេះ ពួក​គេ​បាន​ទទូច​ចង់​ឲ្យ​មាន​ការ​ស៊ើប​អង្កេត​ជា​ថ្មី​ជុំវិញ​ឃាតកម្ម​លោក​បណ្ឌិត​កែម ឡី​នេះ​ ដោយ​មាន​ការ​ចូលរួម​ពី​សំណាក់​ក្រុម​អ្នក​ជំនាញ​អន្តរជាតិ​ផង​ដែរ៕

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