International donors closed Friday’s Consultative Group meeting with pledges to give Cambodia $601 million in 2006, up from the $504 million pledged by the same group in December 2004.
“The request was for $513 million but the pledges amount to $601 million,” CG co-chairman Finance Minister Keat Chhon said. “Donors have praised the achievements under Prime Minster Hun Sen.”
Among those who pledged, the UN gave $58 million, World Bank $53 million, the US $60 million up from $44 million, the EU $164 million and Australia $18.6 million.
World Bank Country Director Ian Porter said the overall increase reflected a sense that Cambodia had made greater progress in reforms since the last CG meeting than in previous CG accounting periods.
On Thursday Amnesty International issued a public call on CG donors to press the government to “fully comply with their human rights obligations.”
“We had no discussions about human rights that you are raising, but we have discussed about poverty reduction, the health conditions of the people, which are human rights,” Keat Chhon said.
“The CG meeting is a forum in which the primary focus is on economic and social development,” Porter added. “In [a] broader context the meeting welcomed the release of human rights activists from prison and the statements about decriminalizing defamation.” Porter said that during the discussion, a benchmark on the disclosure of mining concessions and military development zones was added for 2006.
Responding to allegations made by villagers and the rights group Adhoc this week, Keat Chhon said he did not know whether his sister Keat Kolney has been involved in an alleged illegal purchase of 500 hectares of minority land in Ratanakkiri in 2004.
“I am not involved, I don’t know about that case, I do not know what my sister has done,” he said. “There is a draft royal decree setting up the Land Dispute Commission…it will decide whether or not to investigate. It is not up to me to decide.”
“The media should be careful not to violate the rights of others,” he added.