No Justice in this World

Posted by khmernews on January 31, 2007

Recently, a foreign magazine published an article related to the former Khmer Rouge trial under the title ‘No Justice in this World’. The writer of the article focused mainly on three main things that were seen as means used to delay the process of the tribunal over and over again in an attempt to let all former Khmer leaders die one after another. The Economic magazine said that no one is sure when the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia will submit cases against the former Khmer Rouge leaders. The magazine added that Cambodian judges, investigating judges, and prosecutors complained that there was not enough time to get through the 113 articles of the draft rules. The magazine criticized that the Khmer Rouge tribunal is not an instrument of justice but a political tool, and that some current senior Cambodian leaders are former Khmer Rouge cadres and soldiers. An international legal specialist Jime Goldstone accused the government of feebly acquiescing official’s ineptitude, power-grabbing and duplicity. Meanwhile, the general public still does not know when the internal rules will be passed. Moreover, political influence is likely to have interfered in the progress of the tribunal. Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, which comprises of 23 local NGOs, the community for Khmer Rouge victims and international league of human rights expressed their concern over the failure of the adoption of the extraordinary tribunal’s internal rules in its last plenary session. The internal rules are really needed for conducting investigations and submitting cases against people who were most responsible for the crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime. On the 25th of November 2006, a day after a week-long meeting of the ECCC, national and international judicial officers of the extraordinary tribunal released a joint statement saying that they failed to reach an agreement on the draft rules and even some parts that could clear the path for initial investigations. The tribunal officers also acknowledged the importance of draft rules in launching investigations and allegations. Cambodian judges and prosecutors and international judges and prosecutors have not yet reached an agreement on a number of key points and some issues which have already been stated in an agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia. These issues are essential because they relate to fair trials . Even though the extraordinary trials will be conducted in Cambodian courts, they should meet international standards. To ensure that the tribunal will meet international standards, and will be independent and transparent, every issue concerning the operation of the tribunal should be settled within the tribunal, not just be submitted to the Cambodian authorities. Particularly, the requirements of lawyers for defendants and victims and the selection of lawyers for the tribunal. This would be a reflection of international standards. Victims association should not have registered with the government before they file a complaint. Additionally, legal action against the provision of fake evidence in trials should not be sent to other Cambodian courts. Those actions are in the extraordinary tribunal’s jurisdiction. The Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations agreed to create the tribunal in an attempt to allow Cambodian people to find out the truth and to receive justice. Such a historical tribunal should benefit the public rather than certain individuals. To win the public’s confidence, the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations should reach an agreement on the internal rules as soon as possible to allow the people to be able to attend the trials. However, any compromise that leads to the destruction of international standards and independent and impartial nature of a court will not be accepted. Therefore, we would like to call for the extraordinary tribunal to achieve an agreement as soon as possible to ensure that the trials will meet international standards and will be fair. In addition, we appeal to the international community, especially donor countries that funded the extraordinary tribunal to closely watch the progress of the internal rules. Recently, Amnesty International called for Khan Khek Leu, the former chief of Tuol Sleng prison, to be released as the government has detained him since a few years ago saying that is contrary to legal procedure. Amnesty International released a statement by extracting a section in article 9 of an international covenant on civic and political rights which was passed by Cambodian parliament in 1992. The article states “Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release.” As a result, the six-year-long detention of Khan Khek Leu without trials does not adhere to international standards. It has been noticed that the recent death of Chilean dictator Pinochet has made a number of Cambodian lawmakers and observers worried that the senior Khmer Rouge leaders will have died before the start of the trials. Now Ieng Sary, former Khmer Rouge Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Nuon Chea, former Khmer Rouge President of the National Assembly, are getting old and are threatened by diseases. If trials are still delayed, those remaining senior Khmer Rouge leaders will have passed away soon before the trial starts. Not only Cambodian people living in the country but also those abroad wanted the trials of the former Khmer Rouge leaders to start in the near future to disclose the real ringleaders who created such a regime and the reasons why about 2 million people were killed at that time. In particular, the people wanted to know how those remaining Khmer Rouge leaders will defend themselves in court. Observers and diplomats expressed their interests in the Economic magazine after they had red one of its article whose title was “No justice in this world.” The article mentioned a number of irregularities in the Khmer Rouge tribunal. As the matter of fact, it was estimated in advance that the tribunal would not be able to find justice for the Cambodian victims. Analysts criticized the Cambodian Bar Association [CBA] for demanding rights to participate in the tribunal, saying that the CBA is being used as an obstacle to the progress of the tribunal and that it has been exercising political influence on the tribunal. The CBA’s interference has obstructed the progress of the tribunal and this will result in the tribunal being meaningless since all the former Khmer Rouge leaders will have died before the start of the trials. Extracted from: Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.13, #2928, Tuesday 26 December 2006           


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