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The Role of the International Community

In October 1999, U.N. Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia Thomas Hammarberg negotiated a two-year extension for the Cambodia office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (COHCHR). In August 2000, Peter Leuprecht, former deputy secretary general of the Council of Europe, was named as replacement for Hammarberg, who had left the post in January.

In April, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights agreed to a resolution on Cambodia that welcomed the government's investigations into some cases of politically-motivated violence, its efforts to reduce the numbers of police and military, and the development of a five-year plan by the Ministry of Women's Affairs to improve the status of women. The resolution also expressed concerns, however, about continued political violence and intimidation, impunity, torture, extrajudicial killings, excessive pre-trial detention, illegal land confiscations, and the inadequacy of the courts. In May, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child considered Cambodia's initial report on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which it ratified in 1992. Among the committee's recommendations were that Cambodia establish a juvenile justice system, expand education and child health services, and demobilize child soldiers.

Major Donors

At the Consultative Group (C.G.) meeting of Cambodia's international donors, held in May in Paris, donors committed U.S. $548 million in aid to Cambodia. Donors expressed concern about continued human rights abuses and impunity, and agreed on the need to establish a formal working group on governance to address judicial reform and corruption. In July, a good governance working group chaired by the World Bank was established. Its members included the United States, Japan, Australia, France, the European Union (E.U.), Germany, the United Kingdom, the U.N. Development Program, Asian Development Bank, and COHCHR.

Several countries contributed towards judicial reform programs; for example, part of a U.S. $5.2 million grant from the E.U. was earmarked for judicial and administrative reform. In March, Japan committed up to U.S. $20 million in aid to Cambodia, continuing its role as the country's largest donor. It also planned to send police experts to provide technical assistance, including education on human rights.

Other than the United States, the E.U., Japan, and Australia, donor interest in pushing for international standards for Khmer Rouge trials was low. During a visit to Cambodia in January, Japanese Prime Minister Obuchi urged Hun Sen to fully cooperate with the U.N. in establishing a tribunal and stated that Japan would not support any tribunal that was not endorsed by the U.N. Japanese officials raised the issue again when Hun Sen went to Tokyo in June for Obuchi's funeral. In February, the European Parliament adopted a resolution supporting the U.N.'s reservations about the Cambodian government's first draft tribunal law. On April 10, just before a meeting between Hun Sen and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the E.U. issued a statement endorsing continued dialogue between Cambodia and the U.N. regarding the tribunal and called for the tribunal to conform to international standards. During a visit to Cambodia in May, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer called for Cambodia to make progress on the tribunal and announced that a two-year $A28 million aid package would include funding for a criminal justice assistance project.

Advocacy in support of neutral and timely commune elections was largely conducted by domestic NGOs. At the CG meeting, the Dutch ambassador stated that the Netherlands would consider support for the commune elections only if the commune militia were dismantled, a more neutral National Election Commission was created, and election monitoring NGOs were allowed to be actively engaged in the process.

On labor rights, the United States sent customs investigators to Phnom Penh in March to check into reports that a garment factory was using forced labor and trafficked workers. In May, Cambodia and the E.U. signed a textile trade agreement in which Cambodian textiles could formally access the E.U. internal market quota-and duty-free. During a signing ceremony, European Commission official Michel Caillouet noted Cambodia's efforts to improve labor conditions in the textile industry.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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