Human Rights Watch Appeals to Cambodian Government for Stopping Interference in Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Posted by khmernews on December 13, 2006

Last Tuesday, the Human Rights Watch issued a press release, saying that the Cambodian government has to stop its interference in businesses of the tribunal for prosecution of senior Khmer Rouge leaders and others who are most responsible for crimes and killings of people during the Democratic Kampuchea regime.

Human Rights Watch issued such a press release after a week-long meeting between Cambodian lawyers and international lawyers had not reached an agreement on internal rules of the extraordinary tribunal.

The press release went on to say that acting on instructions from government officials, Cambodian personnel participating in the meeting delayed adoption of the draft rules for the Khmer Rouge tribunal. Mr. Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said that the adoption of internal rule is so crucial to ensure that the courts will adhere to international fair trial standards and an impartial interpretation of Cambodian laws. Allegation and trial process cannot be made if the internal rules are not adopted yet, he added.

Mr. Brad Adams explained that political interference has been led the tribunal into deadlock, and that the government controlling the tribunal is a big concern. The fact that the government is already obstructing the process on ‘technical grounds’ should serve as a wake-up call for donors who have chosen to ignore Cambodian. Regarding Mr. Brad Adams’s statement, observers and international diplomats thought that the Khmer Rouge tribunal will be obstructed by many more obstacles before it can start its trial in mid-2007.

Recently, a number of NGOs officials criticized the government for unwilling to find justice for Khmer Rouge victims, and that Khmer Rouge tribunal is become a political court because the government is trying to control the extraordinary tribunal. For example, the Cambodian Bar Association, which is known as a political tool of the government, demanded rights to participate in the Khmer Rouge tribunal, which obstructed a number of works that had been processing smoothly. What the Cambodian Bar Association, led by Mr. Ky Tech, have done is political interference although Mr. Ky Tech tried to hide the truth.

Some NGOs officials were concerned that because of Cambodian Bar Association’s interference, the tribunal will not be able to start in June 2007. As a result, the Human Rights Watch issued a press release, urging the Cambodian government to stop interfering in businesses of the tribunal for prosecuting former Khmer Rouge leaders. The tribunal will become a political court and is worthless.

Senior Khmer Rouge leaders have been accused of killing about 2 million people under their regime lasting from 17 April 1975 to the beginning of January 1979. Now, only Khan Khek Leu, also called Duch, the former chief of Tuol Sleng prison (S-21), has been imprisoned by the Cambodian government in the military prison to wait for trials after Ta Mok, Senior Khmer Rouge commander, died on 21 July 2006 in Preah Ketu Melea Hospital. However, other former senior Khmer Rouge leaders, such as Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea, Ieng Thearith and Khieu Samphan have been living happily with the assistance of the government.

Previously, senior officials of the Khmer Rouge tribunal claimed that the extraordinary tribunal will start in June 2007. But they never mentioned the names of the Khmer Rouge leaders who will face the tribunal. If the killer Ieng Sary, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Democratic Kampuchea, is not punished, the Khmer Rouge tribunal will become worthless. Moreover, if the tribunal is under the influence of the politics, it will be a ridiculous comedy.

Both Cambodian people living in the country and abroad want the Khmer Rouge tribunal processes as soon as possible while a number of senior former Khmer Rouge leaders are alive and able to tell the truth in the tribunal. If the Khmer Rouge tribunal is continually postponed, the former Khmer Rouge leaders will die because now they are getting old and threatened by diseases, such Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea – the President of Khmer Rouge Parliament.

Analysts criticized that the Cambodian government seems unwillingly to find justice for victims of the genocide regime, but shamelessly tries to get control over the Khmer Rouge tribunal. The Cambodian Bar Association’s interference has been leading the Khmer Rouge tribunal into a court that is under the political influence. Also, the interference will prevent the tribunal from processing in the near further.

Extracted from: Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol. 13, #2912, Thursday 7 December 2006


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