Khmer Rouge Tribunal Observers: 2006 was a Year of Shameful Failure for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Posted by khmernews on January 31, 2007

Observers of the extraordinary tribunal for the prosecution of the former Khmer Rouge leaders and officers of civil society organizations explained that 2006 was a very bad year for the mixed national and international tribunal. Also, it was a year of a shameful failure for the Khmer Rouge tribunal as they didn’t manage to adopt their crucial internal rules.

This comment came after Cambodian and non-Cambodian legal officers did not manage to reach an agreement on the adoption of the internal rules for the Khmer Rouge tribunal and after a controversy between the International Bar Association and the Cambodian Bar Association. The observers said that the extraordinary tribunal has been moving backward.

It was highlighted, “The failure to adopt the internal rules has obstructed the whole process of the Khmer Rouge tribunal and produced lots of conflicts.”

It was further made known that the problems are unlikely to be solved and are likely to be used as a means to delay the tribunal. The situation is hopeless.

The observers added that the internal rules are concerned with the roles of victims, defendants, witnesses and lawyers as well as other legal procedures of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Meanwhile legal officers in non-governmental organizations expressed their concern over the trial’s legal procedures whilst the agreement on the internal rules has not been reached by the Cambodian and non-Cambodian judges.

It was explained that the concern would vanish if Cambodian and international stakeholders follow the legal principles agreed by the Phnom Penh government and the United Nations and if there is no political interference.

Officials of the Cambodian Defenders Project said, “If an agreement is not reached and if judges strongly maintain their own position, the process of the trial will continue to be delayed or will reach a complete deadlock.”

However, Mr. Chhang Youk, the Executive Director of the Documentary Center of Cambodia, highlighted that a number of negative issues taking place within the Khmer Rouge tribunal should not be transformed into politically-motivated issues and be used as a means to delay the process to the tribunal. Both the [Cambodian and international] sides should consider victims as a prior objective to find a breakthrough to every deadlock.

It should be noted that in early December 2006, International Human Rights Organization accused the government’s senior officers of interfering into internal work of the Khmer Rouge tribunal and of delaying the adoption of the tribunal’s internal rules that were scheduled to be passed on the 25th of November.

However, government officials denied the accusation instead hopefully saying that all problems would be settled and the delay of the adoption of the internal rules was due to technical problems.

Due the slow progress of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, some circles have expressed their suspicion that there has been no attempt to prosecute the ageing former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Khmer Rouge victims strongly urged that justice should be found for the Cambodian victims and that justice will not be found, if Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are not prosecuted.

A victim who witnessed the cruel acts of the Khmer Rouge regime with their own eyes described a very sad event that took place in Ta Phnea village, Prey Thom commune, Chi Kraeng district, Siem Reap province.

It was described that during the Khmer Rouge regime, after the Cambodian people had harvested the rice, black-uniformed Khmer Rouge soldiers forced the people to work on a dam construction site named “Ro Hal Pruol Ro Hal Pra”, situated in Chi Kraeng district of Siem Reap province.

The victim added, “Black-uniformed Angkar soldiers starved and forced the people to work both day and night. Sometimes, Angkar transported people by horse carts, carts pulled by people and bicycles in order to be killed in another place during the day.

The people created a resistant movement because they could not bear the suffering. They armed themselves with weapons such as Ping Pong tree-made spears and machetes and rode on horses to surround Angkar’s black-uniformed soldiers whilst they were having their lunch one day.

It was discovered that the Ro Hal Pruol Ro Hal Pra dam was controlled by comrade Sa. Once they had surrounded the Khmer Rouge soldiers, the people arrested and beheaded comrade Sa, whose head was then put on a stake and displayed.
Meanwhile, other remaining Khmer Rouge soldiers were fleeing into the forest. All men were then mobilized to search for the fleeing Khmer Rouge soldiers.

The South-west Khmer Rouge sent its soldiers to crack down on the rebellion. Until now, the leader of the rebellion remains unknown.

A short time after the crackdown, the South-west Khmer Rouge soldiers summoned about 500-600 men to attend a meeting at Kork Tlork pagoda, where the Khmer Rouge soldiers threatened them with guns, tied their hands behind their back with banana vines, led them to an area several meters away from the pagoda and killed them.

That was a tragic event that Cambodian people cannot forget. Another area that was served as a killing field and torturing site is located in Mokak dam, Prey Thom commune, Chi Kraeng district, Siem Reap province.

If the Documentary Center of Cambodia wants to know clearly about that, Moneaksekar Khmer can lead it to the area which could be used as evidence to prosecute the former Khmer Rouge leaders.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal should not fail because the spirits about 2 million victims are anxiously waiting for justice.

Extracted from: Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3052, Wednesday 03 January 2007 


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