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

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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

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

Vehicles seized as authorities intervene in land clearing op

Source : Phnom Penh Post 

Stung Hav district administration intervenes in a land clearing operation on disputed land in Preah Sihanouk province. Photo supplied

Stung Hav district administration intervened in a land clearing operation on disputed land in Otres Commune on Saturday, seizing two vehicles as a warning to all parties to cease their activities until a final court verdict is reached.

Otres Commune police chief Nget Lorn told The Post that on Saturday afternoon, Stung Hav district governor Chhay Sokunda led joint authority forces in a crack down on land clearing at O’Damrei Pagoda in Otres Commune’s Village 4, Preah Sihanouk province. Continue reading

Capital’s apartments set to triple by 2030

Source : Phnom Penh Post 

Tronum Sothearos stands out with its abundance of greenery in Chamkarmon district’s Tonle Bassac commune. The number of apartments in Phnom Penh is set to almost triple by 2030. Photo supplied

Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon and Tuol Kork districts will continue to see investment in apartments, while Sen Sok will become a new target market, as the number of apartments in Phnom Penh is set to almost triple by 2030.

According to a report issued on Tuesday by property firm VTrust Appraisal, Chamkarmon district ranks first in terms of apartment numbers, with 5,820 units spread across 230 projects, equivalent to 64 per cent of the total supply. Continue reading