About Cambodia

About Cambodia

Repression of civil society is on the rise all over the world, even in supposedly democratic countries above reproach. Especially activists and organisations who advocate for democracy, human rights, and social and environmental justice are under pressure.

The European Parliament,

-   having regard to its previous resolutions on Cambodia, notably those of 26 November 2015 on the political situation in Cambodia(1), of 9 July 2015 on Cambodia’s draft laws on NGOs and trade unions(2) and of 16 January 2014 on the situation of rights defenders and opposition activists in Cambodia and Laos(3),

10 May 2016

Yesterday’s detention of eight human rights workers and activists was an egregious violation of the right to freedom of expression in Cambodia, civil society groups said today. The detentions, which followed the pre-trial detention of four other rights workers and an election official last week, highlight an alarming surge in the Cambodian government’s latest campaign of intimidation against civil society.

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Human trafficking is one of the greatest crimes of the 21st century. It is a persistent violation of the rights and lives of children, men and women. We live in a globalized world that facilitates the movement of goods, information and people across borders.

Mr President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

I am deeply humbled at the trust placed in me by the Human Rights Council in appointing me Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia. This afternoon I have the honour to present my first report.

Cambodia and its people have been served by special procedure mandate holders since 1993. In September 2014, the Human Rights Council considered the final report of the previous Special Rapporteur, Surya P. Subedi.

  • having regard to European Parliament resolutions 16 January 2014 on the situation of rights defenders and opposition activists in Cambodia and Laos, as well as of 26 October 2012 and of 17 February 2011 on Cambodia
  • having regard to the Local EU Statement on the new legislature in Cambodia of 23 September 2013 and on violence surrounding labor disputes of 8 January 2014

How does the Federal Government view the dramatically worsened human-rights situation in Cambodia, against the background of the most recent wave of arrests of land-rights and human-rights activists, along with opposition politicians, the sentencing of seven land-rights activists to a year's imprisonment for obstructing traffic and the murder of the journalist Taing Try while investigating illegal logging; and what moves will Dr Friedrich Kitschelt, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, make during his visit at the end of the month to improve the situation?

A country still transitioning to democracy, Cambodia needs a reliable police force to uphold the rule of law and instill confidence in the governance system among the country’s people. To this end, significant donor and government resources have been spent for initiatives creating new institutional rules and providing police training to boost capacity. In reality however, the police force is still perceived as one of the country’s most corrupt institutions. Moreover, acts of police brutality against civilians continue to occur, demonstrated during recent land eviction protests and demonstrations following the release of the highly contested results of the 28 July 2013 national election. Consequently, this paper seeks to discredit the fictitious view that new institutional rules and police training will necessarily lead to an adequate police force.

Joint programming is a direct result of European partners’ longstanding internal and international commitments to delivering better aid and development results through greater internal coherence and efficiency in the face of proliferation and expansion of development activities.

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Boeung Kak used to be a beautiful lake in Phnom Penh. In 2007, the Cambodian government made an agreement with a company to lease the land to the company for 99 years. This agreement has resulted in the filling of the lake with sand in order for the company to build on the land. The Lake was 328 acres in size, which can support tens thousands of citizens if it is transformed to land. It seemed to be a reasonable sacrifice for the city in landscape.

In February 2007, the Municipality of Phnom Penh granted a 99-year lease to the private developer Shukaku Inc. for 133 hectares of prime city-centre real estate in the capital’s Daun Penh district. The area included Boeung Kok lake, one of the few remaining natural lakes in the city, and home to some 20,000 people. Shukaku Inc. reportedly paid US$79 million for the land.

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Globalisation is one of the most influential phenomena of our time and while bringing many positive changes to the world’s society, there is also a negative side to it: uncontrollable dynamics in markets and society, combined with environmental issues or political crisis may all contribute to a person’s decision to migrate.

I am about to complete my 11th human rights fact‐finding mission to the Kingdom of Cambodia, the second since the National Assembly elections took place in July 2013. What I propose to outline are my initial findings and thoughts about the human rights situation in the country since my last mission. My final conclusions and recommendations will be contained in my report that I will present to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September this year.

Decades after the Khmer Rouge’s reign and after the end of the civil war in the 1990s, Cambodia is governed today by political elite that is criticized by international observers as being authoritarian and corrupt.

ELECTIONS IN CAMBODIA 2013

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Cambodia’s elections did not produce a clear winner – this alone is notable news for a country that has been governed by the same person for almost 29 years. However Prime Minister Hun Sen continues to sit tight at the reigns. What does this mean for the German development cooperation with Cambodia?

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In the recent elections Premier Hun Sen of Cambodia has learned that a large part of the Cambodians want a new political leadership. But even though his party has lost many votes, a change in the repressive political system is currently very unlikely.

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Our Cambodia office director Manfred Hornung has registered with Cambodia's National Election Committee (NEC) as an independent observer for the parliamentary elections. In his articles he reports about worried citizens and protests on the election day.

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Given the candidacy of so many sons of leading CPP politicians – having a son and a son-in-law of Hun Sen in parliament is among their aspirations – the ruling party can therefore fully concentrate on establishing a new Cambodian dynasty. It has little to do with a liberal democracy.

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Nobody expects free and fair elections in Cambodia. Dr. C. Kek Pung from the NGO LICADHO explains the irregularities of the electoral process and risks people take when observing the elections.
 
Thilo Hoppe, member of the German Bundestag for the Green party and vice chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Economic Cooperation and Development, comments on the expectations of the elections, on Hun Sen and the intended government negotiations between Germany and Cambodia this fall.

LAND GRABBING AND EVICTION

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In this interview Dr. C. Kek Pung, founder and president of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights talks about the main problems in Cambodia: land grabbing, poverty, trafficking and corruption. Even the EU has not taken any action to prevent injustices of the system and is still importing Cambodian "blood sugar".
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The “Everything but Arms” trade initiative should bring benefit to the poeple of Cambodia, but the opposite is the case. Illegal methods were established to make profits out of the duty-free export of sugar. Even though there is a EU resolution emphasizing the critical escalation of human rights abuses and land grabbing due to the export of agricultural products, the resulting efforts of the EU are poor.
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The EU Parliament requested the EU Commission in its resolution to monitor the implementation of the United Nations recommendations on the reform of the electoral system by the Cambodian government exactly. The elections are still used to strengthen the rule of the Prime Minister and the party to secure their privileges.

This documentary takes a look at the recent campaign to free the 15 imprisoned Boeung Kak lake activists. The fifteen were arrested in late May 2012 during and after a peaceful protest highlighting a long-standing land dispute with Shukaku Inc. company, owned by a Cambodian ruling party senator. 

VIDEO: CAMBODIA FOR SALE (2009, KHMER/ENGL.)

ABOUT HBS CAMBODIA

The Heinrich Böll Foundation (also known as Heinrich Böll Stiftung) is part of the Green political movement that has developed worldwide as a response to the traditional politics of socialism, liberalism, and conservatism. Our namesake, the writer and Nobel Prize laureate Heinrich Böll, personified the values we stand for: freedom, civic courage, tolerance, open debate and the appreciation of art and culture as independent spheres of thought and action.

The headquarter of the Heinrich Böll Foundation is located in Berlin, Germany. Our international program is implemented through 32 offices worldwide, seven of them in Asia. 

Working closely with civil society groups since 1993, the Heinrich Böll Foundation was the first German political foundation to establish cooperation with partners in Cambodia. Building on past achievements, our current program focuses on two key areas for sustainable development of Cambodia: Resource Governance and Gender Democracy.

Discover the Heinrich Böll Stiftung
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