Misunderstandings of The Khmer Rouge and International Criminal Court

Posted by khmernews on February 1, 2008

Koh Keo

Phnom Penh: On January 17, 2008 in a conference on The International Criminal Court: Five Years After the Establishment of the International Criminal Court and Applying Rome Statute in Cambodia, organized by rights group ADHOC, some representatives of Cambodian institutions raised questions regarding the misunderstandings of the court to try former Khmer Rouge leaders and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“Generally, the established laws do not react to crimes which have been committed, and the Rome Statute was created only after the crimes of the Khmer Rouge regime. But why the laws of the ICC created in 2002 are practiced in the Khmer Rouge court which tries the crimes committed from 1975 to 1979?” the representative from the Ministry of Education asked Thun Saray, president of ADHOC, and Carla Eerstman, president of REDRESS and ICC legal expert.

In response to the question, ADHOC President Thun Saray claimed that there was no point that the laws reacted to the past crimes. “The ICC is a court for the future, beginning from 2002. If there are crimes committed in Cambodia—though the criminals are Cambodians or foreigners—they must be arrested and brought to justice in the ICC. However, the Khmer Rouge court is to try only 3 international crimes such as war crimes, genocidal crimes and crimes against humanity. The 3 types of crimes did not only exist when the ICC was created, but since after the World War II. The Khmer Rouge court is a special or hybrid court which is composed of the national and international courts. Therefore, the ICC is different from the Khmer Rouge court,” explained Thun Saray.

“The Khmer Rouge court or the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is authorized to try only crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge’s reign from 1975 to 1979 while the ICC is not a special, but permanent court which can try all crimes committed after 2002,” he said, adding that the ICC will always exist.

REDRESS President Carla Eerstman, also ICC legal Expert, said that before the ICC was established, there had been negotiations between countries throughout the world. “It was not easy to find the method that can seek justice and common ground on which everyone can agree. The ICC has the power to punish the perpetrators of war crimes, genocidal crimes and crimes against humanity. The punishments are put on those who are responsible for these crimes, and this court (ICC) can only apply to crimes committed only after its establishment in July 2002,” she said.

“The establishment of the [ICC] is aimed to make the member states around the world show that there is no more impunity,” said Carla Eerstman, claiming that the ICC can practice on the people of the signatories of Rome Statute only.

Thun Saray asserted that although Cambodia had given ratification to Rome Statute in January 2002, International Human Rights Union’s reports published in March 2006 showed that Cambodia had not modified its legislation to conform to Rome Statute yet.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Kampuchea Thmey, Vol. 07, #1548, Friday, January 18, 2008


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