Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Global Witness Employee Kicked Out of Cambodia

A Global Witness employee was ordered to leave Cambodia as soon as he landed at the Phnom Penh International Airport Monday, according to police sources and sources close to Global Witness.

Cambodian authority did not give details as why the man was forced to leave Cambodia but police said four Global Witness employees are barred from entering Cambodia.

The names of the four foreigners are not revealed but the German man who was turned back to Thailand today was identified as Markoff.

Mac David of Global Witness in Phnom Penh declined to comment on the government's action. He said there will be comment later.

Several years ago, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to kick the environmental observer out of the country accusing it of reporting inacurrately on the environmental issues in Cambodia by hiring another watchdog group instead.

Global Witness continues to work in Cambodia because of the pressure of donor countries.

Cambodian drug trafficker nabbed

SA KAEO, Thailand : A Cambodian was arrested yesterday in Aranyaprathet district on charges of drug trafficking, police said.

Ay Tee, 23, was caught with 1,000 methamphetamines in his possession. The drug was hidden in his underwear.

The suspect said he was on his way back to work at an ice-making factory in Bangkok when another Cambodia man approached him in Poi Pet and hired him to deliver the drug to the northern bus terminal.

Analysis: Khmer Rouge tribunal needs more than money

By NATHANIEL MYERS

After nearly a decade of negotiations and planning, the Khmer Rouge tribunal continues to inch closer to reality in Cambodia.

Earlier this year, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that pledges from member states now covered the UN's $43 million share of the tribunal's $56.3 million budget.

The process hit a snag in March, however, when the Royal Government of Cambodia unexpectedly announced that it could not cover most of its own share, and appealed to international donors to help it come up with the remaining $11.8 million it owed.

Little progress has been made in the months since. International donors are reluctant to give again, and the Cambodian government has rejected suggestions of a national fund-raising campaign, even though some local business leaders have expressed interest in donating.

Yet, in the midst of this confusion, the government appears to have begun the process of selecting judges and prosecutors to staff the future tribunal, but it has shrouded the process in secrecy. No official list of candidates has been released, and the government has refused to describe the selection process, keeping secret the criteria for evaluation and the timeframe for its undertaking.

Both of these developments are worrying. The first has been taken by some observers to suggest that the government does not fully support the tribunal.

As one observer noted, the government didn't seem to have much trouble finding the millions of dollars needed to pay for damage caused in the infamous anti-Thai riots in 2003. If the tribunal does come to fruition _ as still seems likely _ it may not be able to count on full cooperation from the government. At the same time, the lack of transparency in the jurist selection process suggests that the court may not take place in the open and transparent manner advocates had hoped.

This would be a tragedy. The Khmer Rouge tribunal holds great potential benefits for the Cambodian people; chief among them is its potential impact on the deeply troubled judicial system. A tribunal that respected international norms of fairness and due process would provide a powerful example to the national system, and could inspire increased independence and reform while dealing a significant blow to the entrenched culture of impunity.

At the end of this month, the consultative group of leading foreign donors is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen to discuss progress on commitments made last December.

Donors have already done much for the tribunal, but their work is not done. In order for the tribunal to make good on its potential for the Cambodian people, it is now clear that these major donors will have to exercise their political influence on its behalf. At their upcoming meeting with Mr Hun Sen, they should push the following three points:

First, the selection process for judges, lawyers and court staff must be made open and transparent. The public deserves to know who is being considered, what criteria will be used to evaluate them, and when decisions will be made. Civil society, particularly those NGOs who work in the legal sector, should be approached for comments and recommendations.

Second, the government must explain, to donors and the public alike, how it plans to cover its share of the tribunal's budget. It cannot expect donors to rush to bail it out, and it must adequately explain why it rejected the idea of a national fund-raiser.

Though not all Cambodians can afford to donate money, many have suggested they would like to give as a way of feeling involved in the process of holding the former Khmer Rouge leaders accountable.

At the absolute least, the government should accept donations offered freely by private citizens.

Third, donors should impress upon the government the importance of a successful tribunal outreach campaign to educate the general population. There have long been misconceptions amongst the public as to how the tribunal will work and who it will prosecute; it is time they be cleared up.

Such misunderstandings have the potential to ferment unrest _ particularly if former Khmer Rouge cadres mistakenly fear they may be jailed _ and they will certainly lead to disappointment with the tribunal when victims notice that ex-Khmer Rouge in their communities are still at liberty.

Though many Cambodian NGOs are preparing outreach programmes, their plans do not excuse the government from its own responsibility to educate. Mr Hun Sen could begin to demonstrate his commitment to a successful process by recording public service announcements for radio and television which introduce and describe the tribunal. Donors have much to discuss and there is much work that still needs to be done in Cambodia to help its people. But given the enormous potential and equally enormous cost of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, it deserves a high place on the agenda.

Nathaniel Myers is an adviser to a non-governmental organisation on tribunal-related issues. He also specialises in hybrid courts and post-conflict justice.

ADB Supporting Research on Inland Fisheries in Cambodia

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ADB will support further capacity building of Cambodia's Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute (IFREDI), to help promote the sustainable management of the country's inland fisheries, through a technical assistance (TA) grant approved for $300,000.

Cambodia's inland fisheries are the fourth most productive in the world in terms of total freshwater fish catch. And, given the size of Cambodia's small (but fast growing) population, their contribution to income, jobs, and food security is likely higher than that in any other country.

However, population and development pressures coupled with poor governance and technology have intensified exploitation as well as habitat degradation and change, especially in the flooded forest. These have led to smaller average catches, biodiversity loss, worsening poverty for many fisher folk and fish-dependent households, weaker access rights for the poor, and escalating conflict. Inland fisheries are now close to their maximum production.

"Cambodia's inland fisheries will not be available forever if they are not cared for, protected, and tapped in a sustainable way. Without fish to provide protein and income, many people will starve," says Olivier Serrat, an ADB Senior Project Economist. "Understanding of the factors that are detrimental to sustainable management of this vital resource is limited and requires continuous, intensive scientific and social science research."

The TA builds on a 2003 ADB-backed TA that helped make IFREDI an efficient, effective, and relevant research and development institute through on-the-job training and formal training courses. That TA resulted in much-enhanced, if not newly created, indigenous capacity for institute management, research and development, technology transfer, and policy development and dialogue.

The new TA will build further the ability of IFREDI staff to disseminate research findings by accelerating technology transfer, support more research and development, and strengthen policy development and dialogue.

"The success of IFREDI hinges on its ability to develop and disseminate research findings to policymakers, fish farmers, fish workers, women, traders, and other key stakeholders," adds Mr. Serrat. "At the same time, IFREDI staff need to hone and practice their research skills to remain current and continue to feed policy development. Early exploration of what governance structure can best sustain IFREDI is also desirable."

The Department of Fisheries is the executing agency for the TA. The International Center for Living Aquatic Resource Management, otherwise known as the WorldFish Center will implement the TA. The WorldFish Center will also contribute $50,000 equivalent toward the TA's total cost of $410,000. The Government will contribute $60,000.

The TA is due for completion in November 2005. It will complement the suite of loan and TA projects that ADB promotes under the Tonle Sap Initiative.