The KR Tribunal Is Gradually Making People Become More and More Hopeless

Posted by khmernews on July 31, 2007


The process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is gradually making people become hopeless since the court has faced many problems again and again. For instance, a senior KRT’s official has recently said that the funds for the KR Tribunal would have run out by April, 2008. Moreover, so far, there has not been any Cambodian or foreign lawyer registering at the KRT although the problem of foreign lawyer registration fee was solved.

KRT’s observers and some civil society organization’s officials said that justice for victims of the ‘Killing Fields’ regime was still not seen whereas most part of the whole budget ($56.3 million) had been spent. The concerning problem is that the performance of the Cambodian and international judges and prosecutors are very slow after the adoption of the internal rules. Especially, the salary cut plan of Cambodian staff, judges and prosecutors is shaking the KRT.

Van Nath, former detainee in Tuol Sleng prison, said in a press conference on July 12, 2007 that he was hopeless on the KRT which couldn’t find justice for victims since there had been problems happened. “I have completely lost hope with the KR Tribunal because from 1979 to 2007 it’s been almost 30 years. Many people who survived and waited to see justice are rapidly dying. Now, [they] say they are running out of money. If they run out of money they should just close the door and return back to their own homes,” he said.

Concerning the reaction from Van Nath, KRT’s Spokesman Reach Sambath said that compared to the expense in the courts of other countries, the expense in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is still relatively low. He believes that the Khmer Rouge court will have more funds to continue its process. “The court understands his concerns and we will try to resolve them so that he’ll be calmed. The remained problems cannot prevent us from going on. We are still optimistic there will be solutions.”

Van Nath is one of the 14 surviving former Tuoul Sleng prisoners. They are the only survivors amongst the 14,000 Tuol Sleng prisoners, who were killed unjustifiably.

The ECCC was established in 2006 and has 3 years term. The court will spend $56.3 million in which $43 million has been contributed by the UN and $13.3 million from the Cambodian government. Nevertheless, the Cambodian government hasn’t found enough of its parts.

A source from the KRT said in the condition of anonymity that the KRT with Sean Visoth as the head of Office of Administration and Michael Ly as his deputy seems to face problems again and again. One thing that has spoiled the reputation of the KRT is the corruption in recruiting Cambodian staff, judges, and prosecutors. Up to present, the UN still hasn’t released the results of the audit on the corruption.

Recently, United Nations Development Programme’s and KRT’s officials have met to discuss about the reduction of Cambodian staff’s, judges’ and prosecutors’ salaries of about 30 to 45 percent. However, the results have not been revealed too since some Cambodian judges and prosecutors threatened to walk out of the KRT. And if Cambodian staff, judges and prosecutors walked out, the ECCC would be blocked.
So far, it’s not known which former Khmer Rouge leaders will be listed for trials since the KRT’s officials seem to be concealing the names of those potential candidates. At the present time, only Kang Kek Ieu, known as Duch, is being detained in Military Prison awaiting trial after Ta Mok, former senior Khmer Rouge commander, died of illnesses in [Preah Ket Mealea] Hospital on July 21, 2006. Other former senior Khmer Rouge leaders such as Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea, and Khieu Samphan are living freely.
Civil society’s officials and independent observers said that there had been many problems which made Cambodian people lose faith on the KR Tribunal. Those problems included the foreign lawyer registration, the impasse of the internal rules, the budgetary shortfalls, and the cover-up of the name list of the former Khmer Rouge leaders who would be brought to justice. Moreover, the KRT seems to be under the political influence whereas all Cambodians living inside and outside Cambodia are insisting the tribunal to get underway soon.

The general public has expressed their hopelessness on the KR trials which have been delayed again and again while elderly former Khmer Rouge leaders are aging and some are with serious illnesses. If those former KR leaders died before the trials took place, there would be no answers for why there had been massacres of 1.7 million people in the ‘Killing Fields’ regime, and $56.3 million would be not worth spending.

Informal Translation
-Extracted from Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, vol.14, #3086, Saturday, July 14, 2007.


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