The Khmer Rouge Trial Is Still Insecure

Posted by khmernews on June 7, 2007

It is not different from what observers have said that the Khmer Rouge trial still hasn’t escaped from danger although there is a statement made by [the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia] that the disagreements have been solved. After the third plenary session which lasted for 10 days, the results were released on Friday, March 16th that the committee has discussed a lot of detailed points and solved all the disagreements, but needs to rephrase the content to make it even better.

Moreover, according to the press release from the Review Committee of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), there is another problem that the [ECCC] is still facing. It is the influence of the registration fees of the foreign lawyers in the Cambodian Bar Association (CBA) in order to participate in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. The international judges think that the high fees set by the CBA is not acceptable and they put the condition that the plenary session on the 30th of April will not be held if there is no solution made to this problem.

At the end of the press release, they claimed that all members of the Review Committee are trying their best to succeed in integrating Cambodian and international laws in order that the tribunal can fulfill its historical duty to find justice for Cambodians.

As a result, if we analyze the words “have solved the disagreements” used by the ECCC, we can see that it is only a “diplomatic language” that the tribunal officials use to convey the people’s feeling. For the observers of Cambodian politics, the crucial internal rules are still threatening this hybrid tribunal.

Why are the internal rules difficult to adopt?
As what people have heard, there are two problems which stall this process. The first problem is technical whilst the second is political. The technical problems are usually raised by the tribunal and government officials about the difficulties in integrating the complicated national and international laws together for the tribunal whilst these rules must have a standard which does conform to both Cambodian and international laws. This is a problem which cannot be easily solved. The most complicated problem is that in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Cambodian side has two principles which require the Khmer Rouge Tribunal—while finding justice for the victims—to keep peace and political stability in the country and maintain the sovereignty of Cambodian law whilst the international side has been trying to make the Khmer Rouge trial less influenced by Cambodian law and insisting the Khmer Rouge Tribunal be an international standard tribunal. This can make people picture in their minds how tough the discussions over the internal rules are and how long they will take.

However, a lot of people are focusing on the political aspects rather than technical problems. It means the deadlock and the delay of the process of the Khmer Rogue trial are caused by placing the political interests above justice for the victims. “Everyone” knows that the Khmer Rouge case is not only politically influenced by the national “context” but also by the international “context”.

In sum, although technical is an actual problem, the political aspect generally influence the tribunal more. However, this is not the first problems which have just happened to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, but it has happened many times to countries around the world.

For instance, the international criminal court of former Yugoslavia held in 1993 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity in Balkan had been delayed for a long time. The most important accused Slobodan Milosevic finally died in the middle of the process of the court in 2006. Milosevic died after 13 years of the establishment of the court or 5 years after his first trial began. Another example is the international criminal court of Rwanda in 1994. It is not different, to say, taking a long time and spending a lot of money but getting less-satisfied results. In this context, observers of Cambodian politics predict that the Khmer Rouge trial may “walk on the same track”.

(Informal Translation)
-Extracted from Somnei Thmey. Monday-Sunday, March 26-April 1st, 2007.


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