Donors Urged to Press Gov’t on Reforms

Ahead of today’s Consultative Group meeting, NGOs and rights groups made a last-minute appeal to Cambodia’s donor community to press the government to ad­here to reforms.

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights issued a statement Friday calling for a reorganization of the country’s court system.

Citing poverty, land grabbing and graft, the CCHR statement blamed a politically influenced court system for the country’s social injustices.

“Reforming the court system to become independent cannot be done if the government leaders just keep on promising,” the statement said.

New York-based Human Rights Watch also issued a strongly-worded news release Fri­day, urging international donors today to pressure the government to improve its human rights record or risk losing aid.

In the 11 years since the end of Untac, Rights Watch said, “the government has shown contempt for its own Constitution and international human rights standards.”

The organization noted the government’s crackdown on public demonstrations and the intimidation of opposition politicians by au­thorities.

It admonished do­n­ors for having “yet to show the will to confront Prime Minister Hun Sen and his government” over human rights violations and good governance.

“After a decade of broken prom­ises and ineffective donor action, this cycle of rewarding deceit with more aid should end in 2004,” the organization’s Asia director, Brad Adams, said in the release.

The statements repeat the pleas of NGOs and civil society groups made during a meeting last week in the run-up to the two-day CG meeting.

The government is expected to ask international donors for

$1.8 billion in aid over the next three years.

The Committee for Free and Fair Elections also issued a statement Friday noting that people are pessimistic about the government’s repeated promises of reform.

“We ask the government to have real willingness to reform, not just on paper,” it stated.

On Sunday, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Com­mit­tee, an umbrella organization of 18 local NGOs, said it would organize a march through the capital this morning to demand an end to the government’s crackdown on public demonstrations.

The Phnom Penh municipality had granted rare permission for the march.

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