Khmernews

Three criteria for U.S support of the

Posted by khmernews on December 13, 2006

The Khmer Rouge tribunal is still unable to persuade the United States to support the trial process.
“The United States does not have confidence that the tribunal will process the trials according to international standards thus we cannot announce support for the trials and will need more time to keep close watch of their progress,” Joseph A. Mussomeli, US ambassador to Cambodia told reporters.

He raised three reasons why US senators feel they can’t support the trials. These were 1) transparency 2) political influence on the court and 3) capability of Cambodian judges and prosecutors. However it must be noted that Washington has funded seven to nine millions dollar for Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) to research genocide crimes committed in Khmer Rouge regime.

After the death of Ta Mok members from some non-governmental organizations and independent investigators expressed their concern over Extraordinary Chambers trials court of the Khmer Rouge. The death of Ta Mok in July was the loss of crucial evidence about the Democratic Kampuchea regime as Ta Mok, himself had promised to disclose all facts in court. Now only Khan Khek Leu (Duch, the ex-chief of Tuol Sleng prison) who is presently detained in an army prison awaiting trial is able to reveal all the detail of crimes committed during genocide period.

Some non-governmental organization members and investigators do not believe that the tribunal is capable of achieving justice for the millions of Cambodian people who lost their lives during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. They have stated that if the tribunal followed international standards and was transparent with no political interfere, Cambodian judges and prosecutors would have sufficient capacity to carry out their duties effectively and the United States would fully support the tribunal. On the other hand, the political elite in Cambodia have contradictory views over Khmer Rouge trials with some wanting the Khmer Rouge leaders to be tried soon but other not wanting to the trials to even occur.

All those who want to see the Khmer Rouge trials take place want the court process to speed up, as some important leaders such as Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, Ieng Thirith and Duch etc are already elderly and some are also ill. If the trials do not happen soon, all these existing Khmer Rouge leaders will die before going trial and revealing the truth. The 56.3 millions dollars for the Khmer Rouge trials will then have been lost and all efforts wasted. Even the agreement between the Cambodian government and UN would e meaningless.

However, Nuon Chea, congress president of the Khmer Rouge and Khieu Samphan, Khmer Rouge head of state are ready for their trials so there is nothing to worry about. Other Khmer Rouge members living in Pailin and Anlong Veng seem to have had no reaction to the Khmer Rouge trials. Noticeably, Ta Mok passed away whilst remaining silent, Some people who do not want Khmer Rouge trials happen have said that the 56.3 millions dollar should be used for development and poverty alleviation. However, the UN and Cambodian government have not agreed to such an idea and are preparing for the tribunal to go forward and put an end to the Khmer Rouge story as planned.

Cambodian people want the trials to proceed rapidly in order to be able to include all the Khmer Rouge leaders and countries that supported the cruel genocide. They also want to understand the relationship between the Khmer Rouge and China and the Khmer Rouge and Vietnam and to find out which country was involved in the killing of 1.7 million Cambodians. Before Ta Mok died he said that he had never killed any Cambodian during the Khmer Rouge genocide.
Accordingly, the Cambodian government and the UN should find and use all methods available to make the tribunal live up to the three criteria that the U.S have put forward (transparency, non-political interference and judges and prosecutors having independent capacity) if the tribunal is to work effectively.

Extracted from:  Samleng Yuvachun Khmer 13-2821, August 15, 2006

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