Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cambodia quarantines Japanese couple suspected of having swine flu

Cambodia quarantines Japanese couple suspected of having swine flu



Source: EarthTimes.org
Phnom Penh - Cambodian health authorities said Monday they were waiting on test results for a Japanese couple who showed symptoms of swine flu after travelling by air from Vietnam to the northern town of Siem Reap. Bun Artha, director of civil aviation at Siem Reap International Airport, said the couple, a 24-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman, was taken to hospital after thermal imaging equipment detected both had high temperatures as they exited a flight from Ho Chi Minh City.

"They arrived in Siem Reap on Sunday evening after spending four days in Vietnam and both were taken immediately to Siem Reap hospital," he said.

Em Bun, director of Siem Reap hospital, said the couple was placed in voluntary quarantine and doctors were waiting on test results to return from a pathology lab in the capital Phnom Penh.

"The couple reported that they had suffered food poisoning in Vietnam and had recovered from ordinary flu just before they left Japan," he said. "Phnom Penh is several hundred kilometers away, so it will take some time for the results to be confirmed and for us to know whether they have the H1N1 virus."

Health authorities on Sunday confirmed there were no cases of swine flu in Cambodia after test results came back negative for three US citizens exposed to the potentially deadly virus during a flight from the US to South Korea.

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Swine flu tests are negative

Swine flu tests are negative
Written by Christopher shay And Cheang Sokha (The Phnom Penh Post)
Monday, 25 May 2009

Three tourists exposed on plane to influenza A(H1N1) not infected.

THREE Cambodian-Americans who shared a flight with a woman confirmed to have been infected with influenza A(H1N1), commonly known as swine flu, have been located by the Ministry of Health and tested negative for the virus, Dr Sok Touch, director of the Communicable Diseases Control Department, said Sunday.

"There are still no confirmed cases of the A(H1N1) in Cambodia," he told the Post.

Sok Touch credited new health declaration forms at the airport for being able to rapidly locate two of the three passengers.

He said that increased monitoring at the country's points of entry has proven to be an effective tool in preventing the introduction of the swine flu virus.

The World Health Organisation, however, has expressed doubts over the use of health declaration forms and thermal imaging scanning to slow the spread of the flu.

"The World Health Organisation, on a global scale, has said that airport measures aren't effective at stopping influenza. [The virus] spreads fairly quickly and easily, and there could be people who have no symptoms," Michael O'Leary, Cambodia's WHO representative, said on Sunday.

At the moment, O'Leary said, the symptoms of H1N1 are "generally mild, like normal influenza", emphasising that "this is not a panic situation".

But he added that the influenza virus is unpredictable, and in the past, a more deadly second wave of the virus has hit a few months later.

"And because it's a new virus, everyone in the world is susceptible," he said.

Since last month, all passengers from international flights have been required to fill out a health declaration form on the plane and receive a yellow health notice when they turn it in, warning them about the A(H1N1) influenza virus and giving them phone numbers if they develop flulike symptoms, Sok Touch said.

Colum Murphy, author of Flu Action Plan: A Business Survival Guide, said, "Anything that helps to identify early cases and psychologically reassure people is worth considering."

But he said strategies that are executed only to ease people's minds will not be successful.

"There's no point in health declaration forms if they are just going to pile up unread," he said, "There really has to be an appropriate sense of urgency that's communicated to the front line implementers."

Passengers from Sunday's AirAsia flight 274 to Phnom Penh from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were impressed by steps taken by the Cambodian government and said the airport officials looked carefully at their health declaration forms before letting them into the country.

If tourists do not know what their physical address in Cambodia will be, they are encouraged to write down their email address, according to one passenger who arrived in Phnom Penh on Friday.

Tourists feel safer
David Khem, a Malaysian tourist from flight 274, said the health monitoring in Phnom Penh was tighter than it was in Malaysia. Olga Makarewicz, a Polish tourist, told the Post, "It is good that they make people aware [of A(H1N1)] and remind them."

A joint statement from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation on Sunday told the public to cover their coughs, sneeze with a tissue, wash their hands and refrain from spitting in public.

Murphy said, "There's a chance of feeling overwhelmed, but it's not so bleak, the simple things are the most effective", emphasising frequent communication about the virus and personal hygiene.

The latest WHO statistics show that 43 countries have reported 12,022 confirmed cases of the virus, with 86 deaths.

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Promoting human rights by protecting those who defend them

NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations
3220 West 13th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. CANADA V6K 2V5
Tel: +1-604-738-0338 Fax: +1-604-736-1175
lrwc@portal.ca www.lrwc.org

Promoting human rights by protecting those who defend them

21 May 2009
Chiv Song Hak, President, Bar Council
Members of the Bar Council
Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia
Nº. 1011Eo, Croix Rouge Khmere (St. 180)
12211 Phnom Penh Cambodia
Fax 023 213 658
Email to: cilf@online.com.kh, wengkaly@yahoo.com, hbslawfirm@hotmail.com, ntrbno@online.com.kh, mathoeung_sok@online.com.kh

Dear Mr. Chiv Song Hak and Members of the Bar Council,

RE: Independence of the Bar in Cambodia

I am writing on behalf of Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of Canadian lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally by providing support to lawyers and other human rights defenders in danger because of their advocacy.

We wish to offer our moral support to the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia in fulfilling its function to uphold and defend the independence of the legal profession from interference by those acting on behalf of members of the executive branch of government.

As you know, the independence of the Bar is protected by Article 1 of the Law on the Bar, which states: “The lawyer’s profession is an independent and autonomous profession involved in serving justice and may only be pursued from within the framework of the Bar Association.” In addition, Article 1 of the Code of Ethics for Lawyers Licensed with the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia states in paragraph 3: “Professional installations must assure the respect for the principles of dignity and independence and guaranty professional confidentiality.” These provisions are consistent with the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990), which uphold the basic purpose of the principle of the independence of the bar, which is to protect clients' legal rights, particularly their human rights, which are also specifically upheld by Cambodia’s Constitution. The UN Rules and all other international principles concerning lawyers and the rule of law insist that lawyers must be free to accept cases and represent clients regardless of the political causes or affiliations of the client. Lawyers must be free to take cases to independent courts for impartial adjudication without interference from politicians or other embers of the executive.

It has been drawn to our attention that Mr. Ky Tech, a lawyer who we understand represents Prime Minister Hun Sen, has made a complaint of professional misconduct against a lawyer, Mr. Kong Sam Onn. We understand that Mr. Kong has been retained by Ms. Mu Suchua, an opposition Member of Parliament, to represent her in a case of defamation she has instructed to be filed against Prime Minister Hun Sen regarding defamatory statements Ms. Mu alleges Mr. Hun Sen made against her. We understand that Prime Minister Hun Sen has made a counter claim of defamation against Ms. Mu Suchua, as well as her lawyer, Mr. Kong Sam Onn. The particular facts of this case in the Cambodian context provide us with significant concern that the complaint against Mr. Kong Sam Onn may be based not on any legitimate concern about Mr. Kong’s professional conduct. Rather we are concerned by allegations and an appearance that the allegations against Mr. Kong are intended to influence the course of the defamation case.

We understand that the BAKC has commenced an investigation into Mr. Kong Sam Onn’s conduct, which could lead to serious disciplinary actions including Mr. Kong Sam Onn's debarment. We understand that the matter is now before the BAKC Disciplinary Council.

We sincerely and respectfully hope that the BAKC and its Disciplinary Council will not be used inappropriately in any attempt by the executive branch of government to harass or influence a lawyer who is performing his professional duties on behalf of his client. We also hope that the BAKC will not be subject to any undue influence in its own deliberations or findings. We join with others concerned about the independence of the bar and the rule of law in Cambodia in urging the BAKC to ensure that it does everything possible to uphold its independence and withstands any and all external pressure. Since the complaint to the BAKC appears to be interconnected with the defamation counterclaim that has been lodged against Mr. Kong Sam Onn, we respectfully suggest that the BAKC consider holding any investigation in abeyance until the court has made its findings in the defamation case. We also urge the BAKC to take all possible steps to ensure that Mr. Kong receives a fair and impartial trial.

As lawyers, we wish to offer our support to Members of the BAKC Bar Council in their important work to uphold the dignity and independence of the legal profession. Please feel free to contact us at any time.

Yours sincerely,
Gail Davidson

Executive Director
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

cc. Mr. Suon Visal
Secretary General,
Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia
Phnom Penh, Cambodia email: suonvisal@yahoo.com

cc. Mr. Ky Tech,
Lawyer
Former President,
Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia
Phnom Penh, Cambodia email: kytech_clf@citylink.com.kh

cc. Mr. Say Bory
Former President
Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, snlo@online.com.kh

cc. Mr. Sok Sam Oeun,
Lawyer,
Cambodia Defenders Program
Phnom Penh, Cambodia email: cdp@cdpcambodia.org

cc. Mr. Run Saray,
Lawyer,
Legal Aid Cambodia
Phnom Penh, Cambodia email:

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Princess Eugenie mugged in Cambodia

Princess Eugenie mugged in Cambodia

Princess Eugenie and her friends were mugged while in Cambodia, according to reports.

The incident happened while Eugenie was on holiday in Cambodia Photo: IAN JONES

The Queen's granddaughter, 19, who is holidaying in the country as part of her gap year, was rescued by two bodyguards who tackled a gang of bandits.

The incident happened as the Duchess of York's daughter and two gap-year friends were walking at night in Phnom Penh.

When one of her friends got a purse out, the mugger grabbed it. The officers were just feet away.

The two officers rugby-tackled one of the bandits as he tried to flee with the princess's purse.

According to reports, they grappled with the man before another robber started throwing rocks at them. The officers, fearing for the princess's safety, let the thief go, grabbed the purse and led the royal away.

A Buckingham Palace source told The Sun: "They feared the incident was escalating out of control and took the decision to focus on the safety of their principal."

It is the first time in 10 years that SO14 officers have stopped a direct threat to a Royal.

Questions have already been asked over the amount of money spent to keep the princess safe while on the trip. Reports suggest the cost of flights, expenses, accommodation and overtime for the officers will amount to around £100,000 for the six-week stay.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman would not comment on the incident, nor on the princess' security arrangements.

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2009 LICADHO Report: Cambodia’s Media Continue to be Attacked, Threatened and Censored

2009 LICADHO Report: Cambodia’s Media Continue to be Attacked, Threatened and Censored

Cambodia's media is often described as one of the freest in the region, especially relative to the likes of Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos or China where the media is all but controlled by the government1. But the reality is that Cambodia's media still exists in a repressive environment where the government controls the majority of the media. Those that it does not control, it is not afraid to attack, threaten or censor.

The 15 months reviewed in the latest LICADHO briefing paper - from January 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009 - saw a number of cases of defamation lawsuits, repeated censorship, attacks, threats and intimidation.

The period review was crucial politically with the national election held in July 2008. The murder two weeks before the vote of opposition-aligned journalist Khim Sambo was a chilling reminder of the risks Cambodian journalists face for doing their job.

"The continued intimidation of the media through physical attacks, threats, charges of defamation and disinformation and murder ensure the lack of an environment free from political pressures for media to cover sensitive and important issues affecting Cambodians," says Naly Pilorge, Director of LICADHO.

As yet, no one has been arrested for the killing of Khim Sambo, a pattern consistent with the murders of journalists in Cambodia since 1993. In 2008, another journalist fled Cambodia with his family and has since been granted asylum in Norway after receiving death threats for his work for Radio Free Asia (RFA).

Most of the Kingdom's media outlets are aligned to a political party and most favor the Cambodian People's Party (CPP). All eight television channels are aligned with the CPP, as are 11 of the main 22 Khmer-language stations, and 13 of the 24 larger Khmer-language newspapers.

The briefing paper is titled Restrictions on the Freedom of Expression in Cambodia's Media, and is published in celebration of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2009. The briefing paper is an update to LICADHO's previous report on the subject of media restrictions which was published in May 2008 - Reading Between the Lines: How Politics, Money and Fear Control Cambodia's Media.

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Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)

LICADHO is a national Cambodian human rights organization. Since its establishment in
1992, LICADHO has been at the forefront of efforts to protect civil and political and economic and social rights in Cambodia and to promote respect for them by the Cambodian government and institutions. Building on its past achievements, LICADHO continues to be an advocate for the Cambodian people and a monitor of the government through wide ranging human rights programs from its main office in Phnom Penh and 12 provincial offices.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Mu Sochua-Hun Sen: prime Minister Portrays Himself as Victim, NGOs Condemn His Threats

Mu Sochua-Hun Sen: prime Minister Portrays Himself as Victim, NGOs Condemn His Threats

Phnom Penh (Cambodia). 24/09/2008: Mu Sochua, Sam Rainsy Party MP, during prime Minister Hun Sen’s press conference, after the opening session of the new parliamentary mandate. ©John Vink/ Magnum

By Duong Sokha, with LLG

In a speech he gave on Wednesday April 29th in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s prime Minister presented himself as a victim in the case pitting him against Mu Sochua, the Sam Rainsy Party MP, who lodged a complaint against him on grounds of defamation and insults. Hun Sen particularly reminded his opponent that having her parliamentary immunity lifted would be easy, since a majority of MPs are affiliated to the Cambodian People’s Party and therefore agree with the cause of the head of the executive power. Several organisations from the Cambodian civil society reacted strongly and condemned pressure and threats coming from the ruling power against the opposition.

“I am a simple victim and only wish to defend myself before the Law and find justice”, the Cambodian prime Minister declared loud and clear before an audience composed of brand new graduates. Hun Sen said he did “not despise any woman at all” and said he did not attack Mu Sochua directly. The words he said in Kampot at the beginning of April about a woman behaving in a “provocative way”, who “lunged towards a man to kiss him, so much so that the buttons [of her blouse] popped out”, were not about the SRP MP at all, he said…

The prime Minister insisted on justifying the fact that he filed a lawsuit in turn, against the opposition MP. “On Thursday [April 23], she held a press conference [on that case]. Therefore, I have enough evidence. I signed on Friday [April 24] a complaint [against her] for defamation before the start of the judicial proceedings [launched by Mu Sochua against Hun Sen]”, he declared, adding that his complaint was also aimed at Mu Sochua’s lawyer, Kong Sam Onn, who was with his client at her press conference. The prime Minister is asking each of the concerned persons for a compensation of ten million riels (2,500 USD). He announced he would give the money to charity in favour of orphans.

Hun Sen also said that if justice asked for the suspension of his own parliamentary immunity, he would be ready to accept it, and pointed out that such a procedure against him had few chances of succeeding. “I do not believe that MPs for the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP, going strong with 90 seats out of 123 in the National Assembly] will vote, by a show of hands, the suspension of my immunity. Like for Lok Chumteav Men Sam On [deputy prime Minister, CPP], they will not do it”, Hun Sen bet with confidence. However, Cambodia’s “strongman” did not fail to mention that if justice issued a similar request against Mu Sochua, having it approved would be easy, since the votes of almost two thirds are already secured.

Several Cambodian organisations for the defence of Human rights and the observation of political life reacted strongly, even before this very speech given by the head of government, to the threat to lift the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) deputy’s parliamentary immunity.

“To issue arbitrary threats on the suspension of Mu Sochua’s parliamentary immunity without any evidence she may have committed any crime is a flagrant act of intimidation against an opposition MP”, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) Ou Virak said in a communiqué dated April 29th and co-signed by nine local organisations. “This clearly aims at reducing her to silence and deterring her from claiming her legitimate right to file a lawsuit for defamation.”

For Kek Galabru, the president of the NGO for the defence of Human rights in Cambodia LICADHO, this “threat against Mu Sochua is yet another example of the dangerous milieu opposition MPs are faced with in Cambodia”. “MPs from all parties should be free to exercise their profession, to represent the interest of their voters and to express themselves in public without the fear of being arrested or detained arbitrarily”, she said, while Yeng Virak, director of the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC) stressed that parliamentary immunity was “not something that can be lifted randomly by representatives of the government”.

“If Mu Sochua’s parliamentary immunity is lifted, this will simply prove that what she aims at showing is right: that opposition MPs are not free to do their job without fearing intimidation or persecution”, says Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL). For her part, Thida Khus, executive director of the Silaka organisation, deplores a “threat that is [...] sad in many ways [...] against one of the rare active female politicians, in a country where women’s voices are frequently silenced or ignored”.

Reached by Ka-set, SRP MP for Kampot Mu Sochua simply indicated that she intended to leave justice to sort that case and that she would accept the eventual suspension of her parliamentary immunity, should judicial authorities decide to lift it. “I trust the will of MPs, of all the parties and I shall respect their decision”, she said. Her lawyer Kong Sam Onn explained that he only acted as he felt he should, as a lawyer, and denied having said any defamatory words about the Cambodian prime Minister.

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