The Cambodian strongman is no stranger to manipulating U.N. processes; he very deftly clung to power after U.N.-organized elections in the early 1990s

Cambodia's Strongman

Sovereignty strikes back

Thursday, October 28, 2010
By David Bosco
Foreign Policy

At a meeting this week in Cambodia, U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon got an earful from Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen, who insisted that the U.N. tribunal currently trying former members of the Khmer Rouge regime wrap up its work. The Cambodian strongman is no stranger to manipulating U.N. processes; he very deftly clung to power after U.N.-organized elections in the early 1990s. Now he's arguing that continued investigations might jeopardize national security and exacerbate deepening political divisions within the government.
The Cambodia tribunal is designed to be free from political pressure but would have a tough time operating in the face of active government opposition. Ban today put the best face on the situation:

"I had a good discussion on this matter twice with the Prime Minister Hun Sen, and also [the] deputy prime minister this morning, and I can tell you that the government of Cambodia is committed to completion of the process," he said. "The United Nations will discuss this matter with the international community members, particularly donors. That is what I can tell you at this stage."

Hun Sen's gambit is just part of a broader pushback against international justice: Hezbollah and Syria are working to shut down the U.N.-mandated investigation into Rafik Hariri's assassination, and some toughs in Beirut just beat up international investigators; China is lobbying hard -- and apparently with some success -- to torpedo an international inquiry into Myanmar's human rights record; and a number of African leaders (including some court members) are circumventing the International Criminal Court's indictment of Sudan's president.

The response from the advocates of international justice has been muted. Facing the possibility of renewed north-south violence in Sudan, the Obama administration needs to negotiate with Khartoum and mostly keeps quiet about the Bashir indictment. Both the United States and Europe are understandably reluctant to make international justice a priority in relations with China. And Europe itself has in some respects turned away from a broad concept of universal jurisdiction for international crimes. Britain may amend its law to avoid awkward confrontations with foreign leaders. Spain has even put crusading judge Baltasar Garzón -- who became famous trying to right international wrongs in Spanish courts -- under investigation. We are a long way from the heady days of the Pinochet prosecution.

It turns out that the countries and leaders most supportive of international justice either didn't fully understand the implications of the process or don't have much appetite for the hard political work necessary to make it stick. For their part, emerging powers like India and Brazil are lukewarm on the phenomenon in the first place and certainly not inclined to expend any political capital on it.

All of which raises the unsettling possibility that "international justice" was more a moment than an enduring movement.

USC to help Cambodia develop tourism

THE Cambodian government has enlisted the services of the University of the Sunshine Coast to help build up its fledgling tourism industry.

Cambodia’s Tourism Minister Dr Thong Khon and Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill sign the memorandum of understanding.

John Mccutcheon

THE Cambodian government has enlisted the services of the University of the Sunshine Coast to help build up its fledgling tourism industry.

Eco-tourism will be the focus of the partnership, which was inked through a memorandum of understanding at USC yesterday. USC will help establish tourism educational institutions and plan sustainable tourism policies.

Cambodia's Tourism Minister, Dr Thong Khon, who was at the signing ceremony, said it was hoped the partnership would be a key element of the impoverished South-East Asian country's sustainable tourism push.

“Cambodia is a beautiful country and we have a lot of tourism potential – both natural and cultural,” he said.

“So far our government has made a lot of effort to protect and preserve our natural and cultural assets, but we need more experience.

“That's why we called for the assistance of the international community, especially the Australian government and USC, to support us on this matter.”

The partnership, which has been in development over the past 12 months after Cambodian government officials visited USC last year, may involve tourism master planning for the country's entire coastline.

“There is big potential for USC, short and long-term, with this project,” said Dr Bill Carter, a USC associate professor in heritage resource management.

Dr Carter, of the university's Sustainability Research Centre, and USC tourism lecturer Dr Gayle Mayes recently returned from what has been described as a successful research trip to Cambodia.

Dr Carter said the benefits for USC could include boosting the professional development of its staff, opening up research and business opportunities, and delivering a student exchange program between the countries.

Cambodia passes on demining skills

Clearing landmines and unexploded bombs for years has given Cambodia expertise it now shares to help other nations afflicted with similar problems
Ngoun Thy of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre holds the remnants of a cluster submunition

Ngoun Thy of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre holds the remnants of a cluster submunition. Photograph: Irwin Loy/IPS

Ngoun Thy shuffled through the darkened room. To the right, mortar shells, lined up in a row. To the left, a spool of aged wiring and a pile of metal.

"Anti-tank mines," he said. The squat, rusting cylinders had been stacked up in a rough pile.

Ngoun, a senior instructor at Cambodia's national training centre for demining operations in central Kampong Chhnang province, walked to the back of the hall. "Oh, these ones," Ngoun said, crouching in a corner. "Bombies."

He picked up two half-circles the size of tennis balls; the metal shells clinked harmlessly in his hands.

This quiet hall on the outskirts of the provincial capital in central Cambodia could be a showroom for the deadly legacies of war. It is filled with the relics of almost three decades of conflict in this south-east Asian nation - rusty mines laid by once violent factions; cluster submunitions – bombies – dropped in the millions as part of the US government's secretive campaign over Cambodia in the early 1970s.

But for officials with the government's demining operation, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), this room also represents hope. Each of the former weapons has been painstakingly unearthed, disarmed, then left here as a reminder.

Cambodia is one of the most contaminated countries in the world when it comes to landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). But with almost two decades of experience slowly cleaning away that legacy from contaminated rice fields and jungle brush across the country, Cambodian authorities have also become reluctant experts. They are now hoping to use that expertise to help other developing countries afflicted with similar problems.

Cambodian deminers have participated in peacekeeping operations as part of UN missions in countries like Sudan. Cambodia is also offering its experience at the strategy level. In September, a delegation from Colombia is expected to visit Cambodia as part of ongoing training.

Roath Kanith, CMAC's director of training, research and development, compares the landmine situation in Colombia with what Cambodia faced a dozen years ago.

"Before 1998, Cambodia was partly secure, partly insecure," Roath said. "If you conduct mine/UXO operations in an insecure area, what do you do? It's the same thing in Colombia. Part of the country is secure, but part of the country is not under government control. So we can share the information we learned."

Advocates see this kind of south-south partnership among developing countries as a way to reduce dependence on developed nations' aid.

Roath, however, said such information exchanges make fiscal – and moral – sense. "Remember that Cambodia has received the support of the world community for almost 20 years. I think it's time for Cambodia to pay back to the world," he said. "Even if we don't have the money to pay directly to mine operations, we can at least export our knowledge and experience."

CMAC itself has grown from a small demining project in the early 1990s, as peace was being negotiated in Cambodia, to a national organisation with more than 2,300 deminers today.

As CMAC grew more independent, it also grew less reliant on foreign expertise. Roath said there were more than 100 foreign technical advisers at CMAC when he started working there 12 years ago. Now, he estimates, there are "two or three" throughout the entire organisation.

"In terms of training, in terms of mine/UXO clearance, we have the capability to handle all those issues," he said.

Heng Ratana, CMAC's director general and an advisor to the prime minister, said it makes sense for the country's largest demining operation to be as independent as possible.

"We have had many short-term technical advisers in the past. They can speak very good English … but maybe not so sure about technical skills and experience in the field," Heng said. "So I think promoting UXO-affected countries to share their experiences among themselves is very important."

The significance of landmines and UXO in Cambodia cannot be overstated. Surveys have estimated that landmines affected almost half of the country's villages. The mere threat that a stretch of land may be contaminated has rendered entire plots of arable land too dangerous to farm. Indeed, landmines are seen as such a barrier standing in the way of the country's development that Cambodia has included mine eradication as one of the specific targets under its Millennium Development Goals aimed at ending poverty.

"Most of the affected communities are living in rural areas. These are people who are living under the poverty line," Heng said. "People need to use safe land. So it is our obligation to provide them with that safe land for generations to come." But although Cambodian authorities now lead demining efforts in their own country, they are still reliant on donors to fund these operations.

Government officials and those with demining NGOs have complained of "donor fatigue" – fluctuations in year-to-year funding that may threaten future plans, as well as Cambodia's recently revised goal to clear severely contaminated areas within the next 10 years.

"The funding situation is fluctuating at this stage," Heng said. "Projects are on and off. There are gaps for a few months. It makes it very difficult for mine clearance in this country."

Hillary Clinton would not accompany Obama to India

Washington: For the first time in several years, the US Secretary of State will not be part of the Presidential delegation when Barack Obama visits India next month.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has played a key role in accelerating the Indo-US relationship, will not accompany Obama during his November visit due to "scheduling conflict".

Clinton would be in Australia along with Defence Secretary Robert Gates for the 25th anniversary of the annual Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN).

This would be a distinct departure from the past, at least since the advent of the new era of Indo-US relationship since the Clinton Administration, that the Secretary of State would not be accompanying the visiting American President. When the Air Force One touched the New Delhi airport on the evening of March 19, 2000, Bill Clinton was not only accompanied by the First Lady Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea but also by his Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

Similarly on March 1, 2006 when George W Bush arrived in New Delhi he was accompanied by the then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The schedule of Obama's visit has not been announced yet, but it is expected that when he lands in Mumbai on the wee hours of November 6 he will be accompanied by the First Lady Michelle Obama.

This would also be the first overseas trip of his new National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.

In the absence of Clinton, a top State Department official is expected to accompany the US President.

Officials acknowledged that it would be a departure from the past tradition the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not be travelling with Obama as has been in the past.

At the same time they noted that it is mostly because of the "scheduling conflict and the host of international activities that has been going on this year."

In fact, it is Clinton, who has played a key role in accelerating the Indo-US relationship during the Obama Administration.

It is she who described Indo-US relationship under the Obama Administration as 3.0 phase of the ties between the two largest democratic countries of the world.

Art show to benefit Cambodia schools

Express Staff Writer

Wood River High School senior Erica Evans wants to help children in Cambodia make art. Photo by David N. Seelig

Students in the Wood River Valley have a growing tradition of doing good things for the world. They found nonprofit groups, travel abroad to help out with non-governmental organizations and contribute philanthropic ideas to the local community.

Erica Evans, a senior at Wood River High School, has plans to bring the gift of art to children in Cambodia.

"I feel that culture is built off of the arts," said Evans, a member of the Amnesty International Club at Wood River High School.

Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organization. Its stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."

Evans' senior project will include gathering donated paintings, photography, sculptures and other artwork from the area and sell them at a silent auction on Friday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts classroom in Hailey.

Proceeds from sales of the artwork will be used to purchase art supplies that will be shipped to rural areas in Cambodia that were ravaged by the Khmer Rouge communists during the 1970s.

Evans took ceramics classes as a sophomore and now enjoys painting and sketching as part of her studio art class. The idea for her senior project came from her boss, Carol Knight, the owner of the Toy Store in Ketchum.

"I can't imagine art not being a part of my life," she said. "That's why I want to share it with these kids in Cambodia."

Amnesty International founder Larry Cox gave a keynote address at a conference attended by Evans two years ago, while she was on a trip to San Francisco with the Amnesty International Club.

"I learned that human rights have been violated around the world," Evans said.

She and others in the Amnesty International Club have participated in human rights awareness campaigns at the high school and in the community, including participation at the Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival and at the Festival of Women film festival

"As a result of becoming a member of Amnesty International, I decided I want to go into international studies and cultural studies in the future," Evans said.

Her plans after graduation include a year of study abroad in Costa Rica.

When Knight suggested that Evans consider Cambodia as a place to focus her energies, Evans got on the Internet and found out about the Cambodian School Project, an organization that builds schools in rural areas near Angkor Wat, an ancient temple complex.

She corresponded with Roger Garms, secretary of the Cambodian School Project, and arranged for proceeds from her art auction to benefit young students at the project's schools.

Her senior project also includes conducting research on the Khmer Rouge atrocities and human rights violations during the 1970s, which led to impoverished conditions in the region.

"I chose this project to raise money for the Cambodian people," Evans said. "There are four schools in the Cambodian School Project that don't have basic supplies. They are slowly getting back on their feet."

Evans has sent letters to artists in the community soliciting artwork for the auction. A silent auction of the work will take place at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts in Hailey on Friday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Evans at 720-9024.

Tony Evans:

Paedophile Danger To Cambodia's Youth

A British woman who protects street kids in Cambodia has told Sky News there are just two social workers in the town where she is trying to help thousands of vulnerable children.

Maggie Eno set up the M'Lop Tapang centre seven years ago in Sihanoukville, the country's top seaside resort.

It is a haven for paedophiles from the UK and other Western nations who prey on the young children selling fruit and trinkets on the beaches here.

Ms Eno said: "When we started this project the government was aware of the problems the kids faced, but wasn't doing anything about it.

"Now it's more supportive, but there are just two social workers here in a town of 200,000, so you can see how vulnerable the children are."

On beautiful, palm-fringed Serendipity beach I watched several middle-aged Western men gaze at young beach-sellers.

One held the hand of a girl asking him to choose from a tray of souvenirs.

Young girl fruit seller in Cambodia

Young children sell fruit and trinkets to foreigners on Cambodia's beaches

Another, an Englishman, hid his face and shouted at us while we filmed near to him.

"When Westerners come to a place like this they are going to be very welcome and looked up to and can easily become friends with a child's family," said Ms Eno.

"Westerners have money and all that gives them a massive advantage when they're trying to abuse a child."

At her centre Ms Eno and her Cambodian staff have helped protect and educate around 3,000 children since it opened in 2003.

"We try to give the kids choices and opportunities to have a more positive future so they can be independent," she said.

"Then they can live with their families again and get back to education and training."

M'Lop Tapang is supported and advised by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (Ceop), the UK's major child protection organisation.

Its chief executive Jim Gamble has just resigned after a row with the Home Secretary who wants to amalgamate Ceop with the new National Crime Agency.

He said Ceop's support of projects like M'Lop Tapang illustrated its unique role in law enforcement.

Mr Gamble told me: "We created the International Child Protection Network, a coalition of children's charities, local government, local police and Ceop where we work together on the ground.

"They feed us information and we provide them with training procedures, so we are helping teachers, social workers and non-profit charities like Maggie Eno's to be more effective."

Hillary Clinton set to visit NZ

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Photo / AP

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is to embark next week on a six-nation Asia-Pacific tour, which will include New Zealand.

Clinton was due to visit New Zealand in January but had to cancel the trip because of the Haiti earthquake.

The State Department announced today that Clinton will leave next week for Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua-New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia. Portions of her trip will coincide with President Barack Obama's separate visits to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.

In Vietnam, Clinton will represent the US at a summit of regional leaders before travelling to Cambodia and Malaysia to pledge US solidarity with Southeast Asia. She will then move to Papua-New Guinea and New Zealand before joining Defence Secretary Robert Gates in Australia for meetings there. She returns to Washington on Nov. 8.

Because of her itinerary, Clinton will not participate in the annual foreign ministers meeting of the Asia-Pacfic Economic Cooperation forum in Japan, which precedes by just days a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders that Obama will attend in Yokohama, the State Department said.

Instead, Clinton will see Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara during a stopover in Hawaii on her way to Vietnam and Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg will attend the Yokohama meeting, department spokesman P.J.

Project puts trains back on Cambodia's rails

In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, traders and villagers from the Cambodian village of Phum Thmey, north of Phnom Penh, board a "bamboo train" on their way to the nearby town of Pursat, Cambodia. Long a livelihood and important transport link for Cambodians living along the railroad, the rickety contraptions are been forced out of operation as the government rehabilitates its decrepit rail network and tries to link up with the other economies of the Mekong River region of Southeast Asia.

Asian Development Bank
In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, traders and villagers from the Cambodian village of Phum Thmey, north of Phnom Penh, board a "bamboo train" on their way to the nearby town of Pursat, Cambodia. Long a livelihood and important transport link for Cambodians living along the railroad, the rickety contraptions are been forced out of operation as the government rehabilitates its decrepit rail network and tries to link up with the other economies of the Mekong River region of Southeast Asia.

The railroad is many things to people in Cambodia: playground, garbage dump, open-air toilet, livestock grazing ground, a dry path for traversing swampy terrain.

What it has not been for many years is working transportation for either people or freight. In fact, train service was halted completely last year.

That may change soon. Development specialists have persuaded the government to privatize the system, which officially reopened Friday with one freight line between Phnom Penh and Touk Meas, near the Vietnamese border.

Eventually, they promise, a refurbished railroad will revive Cambodia's economy and drag it out of decades of poverty and chaos. It would be an important missing link in a proposed regional rail system that would stretch from Singapore to Kunming, China.

"It's a powerful symbol of Cambodia's reconstruction and redevelopment," said Lachlan Pontifex, an aid expert with the Australian government, which is helping to fund the $141.6 million effort.

While an efficient transport network holds out great promise for Cambodian businesses, the reclaiming of railroad land could sink thousands into deeper poverty. Many people who live and sell goods alongside the rails - often barely subsisting - fear they will be evicted from their homes. Others, like the operators of makeshift carts that ferry people along the tracks, known as "bamboo trains," will lose a meager but reliable livelihood.

Cambodian and foreign backers said they are trying to minimize the disruptions, spending millions to compensate those affected.

French colonial rulers laid the first rails across the rice paddies and wetlands in the 1920s. By 1969, track stretched from the Thai border to the capital Phnom Penh and continued southwest to Sihanoukville, on the Gulf of Thailand.

Then Cambodia plunged into chaos, beginning with a U.S.-backed military coup and ending in the tyrannical Khmer Rouge regime. After the Khmer Rouge's ouster in 1979, the southern line was still an occasional battleground. Stations crumbled, locomotives rusted and the system ground into dysfunction.

In the past dozen years, the country has seen a sputtering economic boom, which clogged the roads with people and goods.

But the railway remained best avoided. A train ride between the capital and the provincial city Battambang, about 185 miles (300 kilometers) northwest, took more than a day, at a time when a taxi ride took less than four hours.

The Cambodian government shut the system down in November 2009 and awarded the Australian company Toll a 30-year joint venture contract to refurbish and operate it. Toll received an $84 million loan from the Asian Development Bank and others.

Earlier this month, after $5 million in investments in new rails, signs, locomotive repairs and workforce training, the freight service to Touk Meas began operating ahead of Friday's inauguration. The entire railroad - including new spurs directly to the ports - is to be operational by 2013.

"Upgrading the infrastructure will improve competitiveness in Cambodia's economy and promote direct investment in Cambodia itself," said Putu Kamayana, director of the development bank's Cambodian office.

For now, only freight will travel the rails, and the main beneficiary in the short run is likely to be Touk Meas' cement industry. Officials said the competition is already pushing down shipping costs, and should decrease costs for goods like fuel oil or rice.

Of greater concern to the thousands of Cambodians living on or near the rails, however, is what will happen to them. On Phnom Penh's outskirts, scores of families live in tin-roof shacks sometimes just an arm's length from passing trains.

As many as 3,650 families could lose either their homes or their livelihoods. The Asian Development Bank said more than $3.5 million has been budgeted to compensate people who will be moved.

That's small consolation to villagers like Khun Sarom, 38, who with his family of five runs a shop out of a bamboo-floored house just a few yards (meters) from the tracks in Phum Kseng, a village about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Phnom Penh. He said he's lived in his house for 20 years, earning about $5 a day selling cigarettes and pirated DVDs but has no title to the land. He said he knew very little about the rail project and had no idea whether he would get any money or land if he was evicted.

"I guess it's good, as long as I'm not kicked out," he said.

North of Phnom Penh, Prak Pheam, 31, said the railroad would put his bamboo train, a rickety carpet-sized contraption powered by what looked to be a lawnmower engine, out of business. He said he earns $25 in a good week, and had hoped he would get some money for losing that income. But he said only a handful of bamboo drivers have been told they would receive anything, and no one really understood how the money was being handed out.

"It's unfair that I'm not getting money," he said. "I'll have to go back to the rice fields. Or get a job on a train."

ADB-Funded Cambodian Rail Line Reopened to Help Regional Trade


PHNOM PENH, Oct. 23 (Reuters) - Cambodia has reopened a stretch of railway destroyed during the country's war and officials described it as a step towards boosting regional trade through rail links with neighbors.

The Asian Development Bank is contributing $84 million to a $141 million project to repair 650 km (400 miles) of railway linking Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, to its borders with Thailand and Vietnam by 2013.

The first section officially opened on Friday runs 120 km (75 miles) southwest from Phnom Penh to Touk Meas in Kampot province, near the border with Vietnam.

Kunio Senga, director general of the Asian Development Bank's Southeast Asia Department, told a news conference the rail link would lower the cost of staple commodities that poor Cambodian families depend on and would help position the country as a sub-regional transport hub.

Tauch Chankosal, secretary of state at Cambodia's Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said a study was under way for a rail link between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, possibly with financial help from China.

''The estimate is about $600 million,'' he said of the construction cost. ''The funding is not yet finalized.''

Toll Holdings Ltd of Australia has signed a 30-year concession to operate and maintain the railway, which was frequently mined and attacked by Khmer Rouge guerrillas leading to the deployment of cars mounted with machine guns in front of locomotives in the 1980s and 1990s.

Wayne Hunt, CEO of Toll Global Logistics, said the priority was to get freight operating. He said the firm had already invested $5 million and planned to employ 600 people eventually.

The 110-kilometre section that opened Friday runs south from Phnom Penh to the town of Touk Meas. Once it is completed in 2011, the full southern line, which is 250 kilometres long, will link the capital with the port of Sihanoukville.

Reconstruction of the northern line, which runs 390 kilometres north-west from Phnom Penh to the Poipet border crossing into Thailand, is scheduled to finish in 2012.

Once that is completed, the final link in the Singapore-Kunming chain will be the railway between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam.

Cambodian Orphanage's UK Boss On Sex Charge

The British owner of an orphanage in Cambodia has been charged with a sex attack on a young boy in his care.UK investigators joined dozens of police in a dawn raid on the centre where up to 100 children were rescued and moved to a safe home.

Nicholas Griffin, 52, was lead away for questioning as detectives and child protection specialists searched the orphanage, a fortress-like new building in countryside near Siem Reap.

The suspect had been under investigation by Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre for more than two years.

Welshman Griffin, who denies any wrongdoing, says he spent “many years in social work, housing management and community work”.

You only have to look at this new orphanage, in the middle of nowhere with a high wall around it. It looks more like a prison and you have to ask why.

Andy Wells, Child Exploitation and Online Protection

He moved to Cambodia three years ago and set up several centres to help deprived and vulnerable children in what is one of the poorest countries in south-east Asia.

Griffin quickly established his Cambodia Orphan Fund, appealing for and receiving donations from the UK and elsewhere.

He was held, initially, on suspicion of flouting child labour laws and a breach of his orphanage licence.

The police interviewed the children and orphanage workers in a search for evidence that will now lead to a trial in Cambodia and a possible 10-year jail sentence.

CEOP’s Andy Wells told Sky News: “We got intelligence that this man was looking after children and he was assessed as extremely high-risk individual, so we asked a local child protection group to investigate.

Nicholas Griffin

It is the second time Griffin has come under suspicion

“You only have to look at this new orphanage, in the middle of nowhere with a high wall around it. It looks more like a prison and you have to ask why.”

Cambodia is still emerging from the shadow of the bloody Khmer Rouge regime in which nearly two million people were killed.

Poverty, corruption and a lax legal system mean many children in the country are vulnerable to sex abuse, especially at the hands of Western paedophiles.

Griffin was being kept in custody to await a trial while his orphanage was effectively closed down.

His orphanage manager, a Cambodian man, was charged with the illegal removal of a child from its home to the orphanage.

CEOP staff are now involved in finding new accommodation for the orphans.

Orphanage founder faces child-sex charges

The British founder of the Siem Reap NGO Cambodia Orphan Fund has been arrested and charged with sexually abusing underage children and illegally removing children from their homes.

Nicholas Patrick Griffin, 53, was arrested following a raid Wednesday by British investigators and Siem Reap police at the NGO, where about 70 children were being housed, a source familiar with the investigation told the Post.

The source said orphanage manager Chan Rasmey was also questioned on Wednesday concerning the transfer of one child to the orphanage.

Sun Bunthorng, chief of the provincial Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau, said the court on Friday charged Griffin with committing an indecent act against a minor under the age of 15.

He was also charged – along with Chan Rasmey – with unlawful removal of a minor.

The source said the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Unit, a division of the British police, had been working on the Griffin case for almost two years, and that the investigation was aided by child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants.

An APLE spokesman, who wished not to be named, declined to say when the investigation with the CEOP began.

Officials from the CEOP could not be reached for comment.

Winners and losers as Cambodia reopens railway

Cambodia has re-opened a 110-kilometre stretch of railway track, as a first step towards boosting regional trade with its neighbours.

It's hoped by 2013, the railway will link the capital Phnom Penh to its borders with Thailand and Vietnam. The first section which was officially opened on the weekend, runs 120-kiloemtres southwest from Phnom Penh to Touk Meas in Kampot province. But an infrastructure project that involves reconstructing a nation's entire railway system inevitably has winners and losers.

Presenter: Robert Carmichael
Speakers: Prak Phea, Cambodian norrie driver; Fiona Cochaud, charge d'affaires at the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh; Putu Kamayana, the Asian Development Bank country head; Wayne Hunt, CEO and president of Toll Global Logistics

CARMICHAEL: There are currently two ways of getting around by rail in Cambodia. There is this way:


Which is the sound of a train leaving Phnom Penh station last week.

And then there is this way:


They might sound a bit similar, but the chances are you have never travelled on the second one. It is known here as the flying carpet.

For 20 years the flying carpet - or norrie - has been a key way for rural Cambodians to travel between villages along the country's decrepit railways.

The flying carpet is also popular with tourists looking for something different.

A flying carpet is simply a bamboo bed on wheels, and with a small motor attached it zips along the buckled rails at about 35 kilometres an hour.

It takes just a minute to assemble a norrie, which is just as well since Cambodia's old rail system is a single line. So when two norries meet, convention has it that the driver with the lighter load dismantles his norrie to let the other pass.

But next year all of the norrie drivers will be out of business. Cambodia's railway is being overhauled after decades of war and neglect, and there will be no room for flying carpets.

Prak Phea has been a norrie driver for 16 years, riding a 25-kilometre length of track near Pursat town, which lies 200 kilometres northwest of Phnom Penh.

He tells me that he doesn't yet know what he will do for alternative employment, but whatever it is, it probably won't pay as well as this job, which nets him up to 50 dollars a week.

Just over half of the 142 million dollars this project is costing has come in the form of a loan from the Asian Development Bank, or ADB.

Most of the rest came from the Australian government and from Phnom Penh, which last year signed a concession deal with a private company to run the upgraded system for 30 years.

Putu Kamayana, the ADB's country head, says this public-private partnership will benefit Cambodia in more ways than simply improving the country's infrastructure.

KAMAYANA: That's a very big step and a very bold step by the government, but certainly by also improving the transport infrastructure it will improve ultimately Cambodia's competitiveness in the global economy and promote foreign direct investment into Cambodia.

CARMICHAEL: By next year the southern line of the upgraded rail system will connect Phnom Penh with the southern port of Sihanoukville. By 2013, the 400-kilometre-long northern line will connect the capital with Thailand.

Fiona Cochaud is the charge d'affaires at the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh. She says Cambodia will reap rewards in a number of areas.

FIONA COCHAUD: Well there are a lot of benefits for the railway. It's going to create jobs; it will lead to economic growth; it's going to help Cambodia with its exports by making access to the port more competitive. It's also an important part of Australia's support for broader regional economic integration and connectivity.

CARMICHAEL: When the government finally shut down Cambodia's battered rail network a few years ago, decades of conflict and neglect meant that trains were practically at a standstill.

Wayne Hunt is the CEO and president of Toll Global Logistics, whose parent company, Australian firm Toll Holdings, won the rail concession.

Hunt says matters are now much improved on the 110-kilometre long section of rail between Phnom Penh and the southern town of Touk Meas, which opened last week to freight traffic.

WAYNE HUNT: When we are fully operational it will be an average speed of 50 kilometres an hour. The railway prior to it closing down was actually running at 5 kilometres an hour. So as you can see we are bringing quite a lot of productivity back into the economy of Cambodia.

CARMICHAEL: In most of the world rail freight is cheaper than road freight, and Toll hopes that much of the freight currently going by road in Cambodia will switch to rail.

Whether a regular passenger service will resume is at this stage an open question.

But for years some have dreamed of a pan-Asian railway, and for just as long Cambodia's defunct railway has been the missing link.

It still is, but the resumption of commercial traffic last week on the first stretch of line marks the beginning of the realization of that dream.

Once this upgrade is completed, the final exercise will be to build a line between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam - something both governments say they will do.

And at that point the gap in the pan-Asian railway will be closed, and it will be possible for train buffs with plenty of time on their hands to get on a train in Singapore, and get off again in Scotland.

Cambodia back on the Suzuki track

Cambodia back on the Suzuki track

Cambodia registered a 4-2 won over Timor Leste to put their AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 qualifying campaign back on track in Laos on Sunday.

The Cambodians had been held to a goalless draw by Laos in their opening qualifier, but Khim Borey's hat-trick handed them a vital victory against a Timor Lesete side which is now rooted to the bottom of the qualifying table.

With two places up for grabs at December's ASEAN grand gathering, Chiquito Do Carmo gave East Timor the lead before Borey scored three times in a frantic 14-minute, first-half spell

Substitute Nuth Sinoun added a fourth for Cambodia, although a late Anggisun strike provided Timor Leste with some consolation.

Also on Sunday, the Philippines had the Younghusband brothers to thank after Simon McMenemy's charges battled back from the brink of defeat to earn a 2-2 draw with Laos.

Goals from Soukhaphone Vongchiengkham and Kanlaya Sysomvang had seemingly put Laos on their way to a crucial win.

However, Philip Younghusband pulled one back from the penalty spot in the 76th minute, and his elder brother leveled matters deep into stoppage time to leave the Philippines top of the four-team group on goal difference from Cambodia.

The top placed team from the qualifying tournament will face Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, while the runners-up will play in Group B where they will be up against Vietnam, Singapore and Myanmar.

The final round of qualification games take place on Sunday when Cambodia tackle the Philippines and Laos play Timor Leste.


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