Cambodia's Curse

For much of the world Cambodia brings to mind the horrors of the Khmer Rouge's killing fields. And because progress is assumed to have taken place in the three decades since, the world tends to overlook the state of affairs there today.

But contemporary Cambodia continues to suffer by its government. Most international aid agencies tolerate Cambodian government corruption because of the long process required to recover from the crimes of the Khmer Rouge years -- even though Pol Pot was deposed in 1979 and the majority of Cambodians today were born after the Khmer Rouge era. Thirty years ago Brinkley won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the brutal aftermath of Khmer Rouge rule. On a return trip he documents the government's role in contract killings, the "disappearance" of dissidents, the arrest of reporters, and the expropriation of private land.

Thai police corruption leads to sale of pre-teens into sex trade

In this little town on the Burmese border, parents sell their young daughters into sexual slavery for less than the cost of a toaster oven. These little girls, 11 or 12 years old, are forced to serve in brothels and are not permitted to leave.

This has been going on for many years. I know this to be true. I was here before, in 2001.

Back then, brothel agents visited the schools to look over the fourth graders. They offered cash down to parents of 8-year-olds for the right to buy their daughters when they finished the sixth grade.

Government watches as developers evict poor

Joel Brinkley, for the Pulitzer Center
Andoung, Cambodia

Well past the city limits, beyond the sign that says "Bon Voyage; See You Again," after the paved roads end, down a rutted dirt track, Un Thea sits in the mud outside her shanty house, peeling bamboo shoots - and seething.

In Cambodia, becoming the story

Joel Brinkley, for the Pulitzer Center
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia is a complex place; the boundaries between what the government considers fair reporting and libelous commentary are not always distinct. So it was that I wrote my first column from here, published in about 20 newspapers in the United States last week and even more Cambodian blogs and Websites.