Khmernews

OSJI Continues To Attack ECCC

Posted by khmernews on March 14, 2008

K. Nimol

Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) has accused the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, widely known as the Khmer Rouge tribunal, of hiding important information regarding decisions the ECCC is making. OSJI has also advised [the ECCC] to appoint an independent special adviser to help address the ECCC’s administrative and operational problems.
OSJI’s new report on “recent developments of the ECCC” in February 2008, published on March 3 wrote, “The Court’s lack of transparency and its failure to provide access to documents continues to be a problem, interfering with the ability of the public and the international community to understand and evaluate the work of the court.”

The New York-based legal monitor added that the court has not yet demonstrated that it is addressing the significant leadership and administrative problems raised by the UN Assessment, an evaluation undertaken by two experts on behalf of the international side of the court to assess the court’s readiness to begin trials, and the United Nations Development Programme’s Audit of Human Resource Issues.

UNDP “overruled” the OSJI’s assertion by saying that the ECCC hired staff who do not meet the minimum requirements of qualifications. UNDP also claimed that there were irregularities in employment practices.

OSJI’s report continues, “There has been no comprehensive public reporting of actions taken to address the serious issues raised in both reports. Although these allegations were first publicized a year ago, to date adequate procedures have not been put in place to ensure such practices do not take place as the court moves forward.”

The report also accused the ECCC of failing to create contingency plan to deal with the likelihood of budget shortfalls the tribunal is facing now. The report claimed that in late January the ECCC released a revised budget for the court requesting an additional $113.7 million through 2011.

Although the report described the general developments about the arrests of the five Khmer Rouge suspects, the report acknowledged that judicial developments in the Khmer Rouge leaders’ cases during the past two months are “inappropriate”.

OSJI also criticised the pleadings issued by Nuon Chea’s defence lawyers to disqualify Judge Ney Thol, a judge in the Pre-Trial Chamber, that various organizations claimed that it was an unfair disqualification.

The presumption of the independence by supporting the annulment shows the acceptance of the lack of independence within the judiciary. The report added, “The court should have done more to satisfy the obligation for maximum transparency, including: (1) publicly releasing the application and other pleadings, (2) allowing adequate time for all parties to respond to the application, and (3) holding a public hearing on the issue.”

The monthly report added that there are no discernable standards for why some pleadings are made public and others are not.

By noting the disagreement of the government over the appointment of the UN special advisor for the tribunal, OSJI requested that a special advisor should be appointed immediately to assist either the court generally, or at least the international side of the court as the establishment of such a post is essential to deal with the problems the ECCC is facing.

Not commenting directly on the report, Helen Jarvis, public affairs officer of the ECCC, said that the tribunal has created good standards for the transparency and that the tribunal is trying to make them better. She said that all documents edited by judges are immediately posted in the website [of the ECCC]. “We have made people receive the documents about the hearings. There has been nothing like this before,” she added.

However, Heather Ryan, local coordinator of the OSJI project, said that she hopes that the ECCC will take the recommendations of the organizations into consideration. She feels that the legal advice in the document is the most effective way to promote the public understanding of the trial.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Sralanh Khmer, vol. 03, #638, Thursday, March 06, 2008.

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