Forest activists face ‘incitement’ probe

Source : Phnom Penh Post 

Timber seized by authorities in Ratanakkiri near Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary in May. Photo supplied

A senior rights group official and eight ethnic community members were questioned by a Ratanakkiri provincial court prosecutor on Tuesday over alleged incitement to forestry crimes.

According to the court report, Pen Bunna, the senior land and natural resources investigator for rights group Adhoc, and the eight villagers were accused by authorities of inciting people to clear forest land at a sanctuary in Lumphat district’s Seda commune. Continue reading

Advertisements

Ministry warns of coming drought

Source : Khmer Times 

The ministry wants farmers to be prepared. KT/Mai Vireak

The Water Resources and Meteorology Ministry is calling on all Cambodians to conserve water due to fear of drought during next year’s dry season.

The dry season is expected to commence in February and it will end in May.

On Monday, the ministry said in a statement that January temperatures will range from 17 to 28 degrees Celsius, especially in mountainous areas. Continue reading

Preah Vihear parks see clearing

Source : Khmer Times 

The Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) said on Tuesday that forest in the Phnom Tnort-Phnom Pok and Prey Lang wildlife sanctuaries in Preah Vihear province are being cleared by groups of perpetrators from various provinces. Allan Michaud

Forest rangers and the Prey Lang Community Network (PLCN) said on Tuesday that forest in the Phnom Tnort-Phnom Pok and Prey Lang wildlife sanctuaries in Preah Vihear province are being cleared by groups of perpetrators from Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Battambang provinces. Continue reading

Sharp decrease in approved construction projects

Source : Khmer Times 

Despite the drop in the number of approved projects, Phnom Penh’s skyline continues to expand quickly. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Ministry of Land Management this week reported a 19 percent drop in the number of approved construction projects for 2018, with only 2,867 projects being greenlighted, compared to 3,052 last year.

Total investment in construction projects this year totalled $5.2 billion, down from 2019’s $6.4 billion. Continue reading

Government responds to UN human rights concerns

Source : Phnom Penh Post 

ECCC spokesperson Neth Pheaktra hold a press conference last month. The independence of the UN-sponsored Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) was also cited as a concern among UN experts. Pha Lina

Government officials on Monday hit back at UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) criticisms expressed ahead of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) scheduled for next month.

In preparation for the UPR on Cambodian human rights on January 30, UN human rights experts released a statement expressing concern over the harassment and intimidation of journalists, human rights defenders, trade unions, land and environment activists, civil society actors and members of the opposition in Cambodia.

The UNHCR statement said these people “continued to be prosecuted for their activities, in particular through the criminalisation of defamation and other vaguely formulated offences.”

They added that new laws had been passed which contained provisions that could potentially restrict freedom of expression, association and assembly, namely the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango), the Trade Union Law and the Telecommunications Law.

Ministry of Justice spokesperson Chin Malin countered that all the laws were made to ensure freedom for journalists, civil society and trade unions, and not restrict them.

He said a handful saw the laws as restricting freedom because they had previously exercised political agendas.

“Before we had these laws passed, they performed their activities so free that they exceeded the laws and affected the rights of others. Sometimes they exercised their freedom with a political agenda which affected public order.”

“When we prepare these laws to ensure public order, they think this restricts their freedom because they used to do whatever they wanted [and] with a political agenda,” he said.

Malin said the government was nevertheless willing to amend these laws if and when necessary, adding that they had already conducted a public forum to discuss improving the laws.

“If they have concerns they can raise it and we can discuss amending the law for the sake of our society. But we see that after these laws were passed, only a handful of media, trade unions and society groups were not happy,” he said.

The UN also highlighted concerns over democracy in Cambodia, pointing towards the “dissolution of the main opposition party [the CNRP]” in the run up to July’s national elections.

National Election Committee (NEC) deputy secretary-general Som Sorida said in response that the NEC was respecting the law and that it was not involved in the dissolution of any political party.

He added that election law did not require the participation of a small or big opposition parties. But what was important, he said, was the legitimacy of the law.

The independence of the UN-sponsored Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) was also cited as a concern among UN experts.

UNHRC said comments by high-ranking government officials stating there were no more cases left to try at the ECCC, following guilty verdicts against former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan last month, was “interference” with the functioning and independence of the tribunal.

ECCC spokesperson Neth Pheaktra responded that the tribunal was established through an agreement between the UN and the Cambodian government to independently prosecute the crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge’s Democratic Kampuchea era, and rejected suggestions of government interference.

“Judges, co-prosecutors, lawyers and all legal officers at the ECCC work and decide independently without any interference. Neither Cambodia nor the UN can decide to end the investigation, but only a judicial body can make the decision,” Pheatra said.

He said Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin – the Cambodian government’s Khmer Rouge Tribunal taskforce chairman – recently met with UN under-secretary-general for legal affairs and UN legal counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares. Pheatra said Bin Chhin reiterated the government’s support for the ECCC, saying it wanted it to fulfil and complete its mandate with due process, dignity and honour.

 

Construction sector sees 20% fall

Source : Phnom Penh Post 

One Park Condominium, a project developed by Graticity Real Estate Development Co Ltd, is under construction in the capital’s Boeung Kak area in May. Hong Menea

The Kingdom’s construction sector has seen a 20 per cent fall in capital investment this year compared to last year, while the government collected nearly $100 million in national revenue from real estate services, according to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction’s 2018 annual report released on Monday. Continue reading

Land dispute under spotlight

Source : Phnom penh Post

Evictees watch a community building burn next to a sugar plantation in Oddar Meanchey during a 2009 eviction. CCHR released a report on Thursday on the experiences of local communities across three provinces who suffered rights violations as a result of land disputes. Photo supplied

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) released a report on Thursday on the experiences of local communities across three provinces who suffered rights violations as a result of land disputes with companies operating in the Kingdom. Continue reading