No Signs of Terrorism in Cambodia: US Report

There is currently no sign of terrorist activity in Cambodia, according to an annual counter-terrorism re­port from the US State Depart­ment released on Friday.

However, a number of circumstances in the country combine to make it a security risk, according to the 2005 Country Reports on Ter­ror­ism.

“Conditions in Cambodia, such as massive poverty, high unemployment, a poor education system and disaffected elements within the Cham Muslim population could make the country vulnerable to terrorists and terrorist influence in the future,” the report states.

The report also notes that the government “has made effective use of its existing one-page law on terrorism,” particularly in the December 2004 prosecution of six men ac­cused of participating in a Jemaah Is­lamiyah conspiracy to bomb em­bas­sies in Phnom Penh.

Last year, however, a US State De­partment report on human rights in Cambodia criticized irregularities in the Jemaah Islamiyah suspects’ trial.

“We do not think there’s any disconnect…between the two reports,” US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said Monday.

“The concerns voiced in the hu­man rights report were about technical procedures, not really ones of substance,” he maintained.

Cambodia’s 1992 terrorism law, developed more to combat the Khmer Rouge than Islamic militants, contains only three clauses and defines terrorism as acts that “create panic amongst the mass of the people” in order to destabilize pub­lic order and political stability.

A new terrorism law will be un­veiled soon, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana said Sunday. He would not discuss its contents other than to say that it would broadly conform with UN anti-terrorism conventions.

Ahmad Yahya, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker and prominent member of the Cham community, said Mon­day that he did not disagree that wayward members of the country’s Cham community could be a cause for concern.

“In the past, no one [has been] in­volved in that kind of thing. We don’t know about the future,” he said.

         (Additional reporting by Thet Sambath)


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