Cambodia. The country’s economy was facing serious challenges when the World Trade Organization’s WTO multifiber agreement expired at the turn of the year. The agreement had guaranteed K’s textile industry a certain export quota to the European and American markets. The textile industry has in recent years contributed to a large part of the country’s annual GDP growth.
According to countryaah, Phnom Penh is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Cambodia. Sam Rainsy, leader of the opposition party Sam Rainsy’s Party (SRP), fled abroad in February after losing his parliamentary prosecution immunity. In his absence, Rainsy was sentenced in December to 1.5 years in prison for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen when he accused him of lying behind a grenade attack during an SRP meeting in 1997 when 16 people died. Two other SRP MPs also lost the prosecution immunity. One of them, Cheam Channy, was sentenced in August by a military court to seven years in prison for conspiring against Sen. SRP politician Khom Piseth, who received political asylum in Norway, was sentenced in his absence to five years in prison for similar crimes. International human rights groups condemned the judgments, and the SRP boycotted the parliamentary sessions from February to August.
After years of confusion about funding and composition, in April the UN gave a start signal to the tribunal to test Red Khmer leaders for human rights crimes committed in 1975-79 when over 1 million people were killed by Pol Pot’s communist regime. The first trials were expected to begin in 2006. In October, former Red Khmer leader Chhouk Rin was arrested. He was sentenced in 2002 to life imprisonment for the murders of three western backpack travelers in 1994.
On June 16, an international preschool in Siem Reap was taken by masked men, who demanded money, weapons and vehicles as ransom – something they did not get. A two-year-old Canadian boy was killed, and about 30 other children as well as a teacher were taken hostage. Dramat got its resolution when police stormed the building, freed the hostage and seized the perpetrators. The motive for the act was unclear. Some information indicated a revenge action against an old employer to one of the perpetrators. The plan was to kill the employer’s two children who attended the international school. Other data pointed to money being the motive.
In August, two men were sentenced to 20 years in prison each for the murder of regime-critical union leader Chea Vichea in 2004. Human rights organizations questioned the judgments based on recognitions they both later withdrew. The men, who were suspected of getting shot at for a political murder, said the admissions had been made since police threatened with violence and attracted money.
In August, Parliament ratified the country’s accession to the WTO. The National Assembly’s chairman, Norodom Ranariddh, declared that the process had dragged out because the matter was also going through the Senate. She Sen opened the administration of WTO membership and declared that it would play a key role in economic policy.
In October, King Norodom abdicated Sihanouk. As the Constitution contained no provision on how the state should behave in this situation, Senate President Samdech Chea Sim temporarily assumed the post of head of state.
Later in the month, Prince Norodom Sihamoni was elected the new king of the country – to replace his father who had resigned for health reasons. The throne council consisting of nine people chose Sihamoni during a meeting in the royal palace, chaired by the transitional figure Chea Sim. The new 51-year-old king had been his country’s UNESCO ambassador for 11 years.
In January 2005, opposition leader Sam Rainsy and two other parliamentarians left the country after having their parliamentary immunity removed, to face trial for defamation. They had accused the government of planning the assassination of its political opponents, and Prince Ranariddh – support for the coalition government – for taking bribes.
In December 2005, Sam Rainsy was sentenced to 9 months in prison for defamation by the Prime Minister. Rainsy had been in exile in Paris since February. He returned to Cambodia in February 2006.
Human rights activists criticized in September 2006 that forced displacement in Phnom Penh was out of control. Thousands of residents in slums and other poor urban neighborhoods were displaced by authorities to make room for luxury construction and shopping malls.
Prince Ranariddh, who was also in exile in Paris, was accused of acquiring 3.6 million US $ for the sale of Funcinpec’s headquarters. In March 2007, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
The tribunal of former Khmer Rouge leaders was opened in 2008. Already at the end of 2007, a number of former prominent leaders had been arrested: Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan. In November 2009, Kang Kek Iew shocked the tribunal as he pleaded for his own acquittal. He was head of the infamous S-21 camp on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, where about 16,000 were murdered during the Khmer Rouge regime.