Cambodian Bar Association President Accuses International Judges of Stalling the Adoption of the Internal Rules

Posted by khmernews on March 30, 2007

Two officials from the Cambodian Bar Association (CBA) said the same that the bar’s decision on fees for foreign lawyers in Cambodia does conform to the joint articles of the lawyers and that the fees are the same as those Cambodian lawyers have to pay for the CBA.

This explanation is given after the announcement of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on the 16th of March. The tribunal announced that the fees demanded by the bar for foreign lawyers wishing to practice at the court were not acceptable and remained an obstacle to adoption internal rules.

The two officials said in the condition of anonymity that the difference between Cambodian and international lawyers in paying the fees is that Cambodian lawyers will forever work [in Cambodia] while foreign lawyers are likely to work during the process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal only.

The CBA president Ky Tech said that the obstruction of the Khmer Rouge trial is caused by the international judges who relate the problem of “the internal rules” to the legal procedures of the court. He said that foreign lawyers receive salary of thousands of dollars per month, so it not too much to pay little amount to the CBA.

The CBA ruled that foreign lawyers have to pay a $500 membership application fee and if selected to represent a client, they would pay an additional $2000, plus $200 a month in dues.

Concerning this problem, Cambodian judges think that the limited fees is out of the internal rules’ authority, while international judges think that the fees are not acceptable. The high fees for foreign lawyers will restrict the ability of defendants and victims to select counsel of their choice.

Both the tribunal and civil society officials have requested the CBA to solve the problem of the foreign lawyer registration fees as soon as possible so that [the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] can solve the problem of the internal rules, and the court can fulfill its historical tasks in finding justice for Cambodians.

Helen Jarvis, assistant to the government in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, said that this problem will be solved “after” the next plenary session and it is expected that Cambodian and UN sides will understand each other on the remained unimportant obstacles. “We hope everything will be better in the next plenary session,” she said.

Youk Chhange, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said that [we] should not waste time solving the problem of money rather than justice for victims. “This is a financial matter, and it’s not justice that everyone is looking for and trying to get. We should not spend a month dealing with this problem since it’s not a new problem. It used to happen in the international court and in our country too. As a result, we can take the two figures [suggested by both sides] to reconsider and find a reasonable fees which can be agreed altogether,” he said.

According to press release from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, the tribunal officials have solved all the disagreements over the internal rules after a long zigzag road of discussion.

Reach Sambath, [tribunal spokesman], said that there will be a solution for the fee problem and that the court officials are committed to the success of the integration between Cambodian and international law in order to have the internal rules adopted on the 30th of April.

Despite the UN officials’ optimism about this problem, observers are not sure whether the Khmer Rouge trial can find justice for victims since there is no light of hope seen from the tribunal.

(Informal Translation)
-Extracted from Samleng Yuvachun Khmer. Vol.14,#2995. Tuesday, March 20, 2007.


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