The Human Rights Situation in Cambodia

Human Rights Watch writes in it’s Cambodia section that the human right situation in the country deteriorated in 2012 with a “surge in violent incidents, as the ruling CPP (Cambodias People’s Party) prepared for national elections.” Primeminister Hun Sen announced he would remain in office until he will be 90 years old – means for another 30 years. Recently Hun Sen added, if he and his CPP wouldn’t win the 2013 elections, there would be civil war in Cambodia, which also would involve neighbouring countries.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy (Cambodian National Rescue Party) went into exile in France due to a politically motivated trial, being sued to 12 years jail. At least 35 other activists who fought for human rights, against land-grabbing or for better working conditions “were killed, wounded, arbitrarily arrested, threatened with arrest or kept in exile by CPP-led security forces and the CPP-controlled judiciary.” (Human Rights Report Cambodia).

Powerfull international companies together with national security institutions undertake land-grabbing in a great style. This land-grabbing is focussing on the last remaining tropical rain forests for utilization of timber and, in a second step, to change the landscapes into rubber, cashew nut or other kind of plantations. A May 2013 ‘global witness’ report called “Rubber Barons”, (free download at http://www.globalwitness.org) elaborates the involvement of international participants into land-grabbing practices in Laos and Cambodia, including the Deutsche Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the financing arm of the World Bank.

Local communities, who don’t even get informed that the land they are living on since generations is getting transformed until the caterpillars appear, face violence when refusing to move out.

Labour unrest in the textile industries and oppression and violent, including deadly incidents caused by security institutions occur not seldom.

The investigation of additional Khmer Rouge suspects involved in the Pol Pot’s regime commited crimes (Khmer Rouge Tribunal, ‘ECCC’) is continuously hindered and foiled by Cambodian judicial officers. “Kasper-Ansermet, an investigating judge nominated by the United Nations secretary-general, claimed that government interference and lack of cooperation made it impossible for him to do his job” (Human Rights Watch).

Cambodia operates ten ‘Drug Detention Centers’ in the country. Alleged drug users can be undertaken a compulsary treatment for up to two years, according to a December 2011 law. These centers are run by different government agencies, including security forces. Former detainees reported about abuses up to torture who happen in these places.

Human trafficing in a great style, protected or backed by police or government officials, is another big issue. Many of the victims, mostly children and young women, got sold by family members into prostitution networks or abroad (e.g. Malaysia).

The judiciary system is clearly not independent but corrupt, inefficient and mostly controlled by the CPP.

The international community does little respectively nothing to improve the human rights situation in Cambodia. Human Rights are for the western democracies merely a lever for regime changes in countries where the dictator (or sometimes the fairly elected democratic leader) doesn’t play the game they and the corporations behind them want to be played. But, it seems business with Hun Sen’s Cambodia is running fairly good, so far.

In Cambodia’s case, on the contrary, China, Vietnam and the USA provides active security assistance in the form of training and equipment of Cambodian security forces. While the first two don’t show any commitment to human rights anyway, the USA traditionally take it easy when it comes to business. The USA here and there pay lip-services for human rights, though.

Japanese, South Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese investments, sometimes interfered with economic aid, don’t implement any conditions for community participation. Here may even be the contrary the case in many projects, means the displacement of local people might be a condition for a certain investment.

Under these circumstances there is little hope for a better future. An improvement of the human rights situation in Cambodia would mean a deep and thorough change not only of the politics of the country, but also of the international community.

Know…

This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Cambodia’. Read the whole article on Cambodia by Asienreisender.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

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