A High Ranking Official of the Government Criticizes that Foreign Officials Interrupt the Process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Thursday, 12.3.2009

Posted on 15 March 2009. Filed under: Week 603 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

“A high-ranking official of the Cambodian government stated on Tuesday that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is at present being interrupted and hindered by some foreign officials. The Minister of Information and government spokesperson, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, criticized that some foreign officials are making money rather than coming to seek justice for Khmer citizens. The government spokesperson reprimanded them, saying, ‘One case has not yet been finished, and they raise another case. This group wants to extend the time of the court proceedings for their salaries… Many of them try to oppose some of the court actions, so that it cannot proceed. Therefore, we think carefully about all elements of our Article 46, and nobody can block this court.’

“Moreover, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith warned that the Cambodian side might move ahead alone, if foreign officials continue to interrupt the process of seeking justice. He said, ‘We have many elements to consider. If no one does it, we do it. The government has money to do it, but we may do it alone, because the government cannot afford tens of thousands of dollars for the salaries for foreign officials. According to Article 46, as a last resort, the Cambodian government can do it alone, but first, we need to work with the United Nations and then with countries that are members of the United Nations. Then we work with partner countries, and if the third way cannot work, the forth way is that Cambodia will proceed alone.’

Note:

Further information about the history and some arrangements for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal:

Cambodia’s Position on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Presentation by His Excellency Sok An, Senior Minister, Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, President of the Task Force for Cooperation with Foreign Legal Experts and Preparation of the Proceedings for the Trial of Senior Khmer Rouge Leaders, to the Stockholm International Forum Truth, Justice and Reconciliation, 23-24 April 2002

Your Excellencies, Diplomatic Representatives and Participants in this third Stockholm International Forum .

Firstly, I would like to thank the Swedish government for making it possible for the Cambodian delegation to participate in this Forum, giving us the valuable chance to meet and exchange views with scholars, diplomats and legal experts from around the world. Learning from others’ experiences and sharing our own is a precious opportunity for us…

The Paris Peace Agreements of 1991 accorded political legitimacy to the Khmer Rouge and, when UNTAC left Cambodia in 1993, the new coalition government had to cope with the Khmer Rouge continuing policy of civil war and destabilization. We then launched a multifaceted strategy involving political, legal, economic and military campaigns, including the 1994 Legislation to Outlaw the Khmer Rouge, and efforts to encourage its members to defect and split. What Prime Minister Hun Sen has described as a “win-win” policy that has formed the bedrock of the political platform of the Royal Government of Cambodia involves five facets: “divide, isolate, finish, integrate, and develop” in which the Khmer Rouge political and military structure was ended, but those Khmer Rouge who defected were assured of their physical safety and survival, the right to work and to carry out their professions, and the security of their property…

The fifth compromise arose because the United Nations wanted the Law explicitly to exclude the possibility of any amnesty or pardon for those who may be indicted or convicted. According to our 1993 Constitution, the King has the right to give amnesty and pardon and we did not wish this law to contradict our Constitution. As a compromise we agreed to state in the law that the Royal Government of Cambodia will not request the King to grant any amnesty or pardon. Our Prime Minister and I have repeatedly stated that no one is above the law, and it will be entirely up to the Extraordinary Chambers to decide who shall be indicted or convicted…

But we cannot wait forever. Article 46 of our Law makes perfectly clear that, while primacy is given to United Nations participation in the process, if it pulls out, Cambodia is entitled to go ahead to establish the Extraordinary Chambers without the United Nations, hopefully with the participation and support of individual member states and foreign legal personalities, or in the last resort to carry out the trial entirely on its own.

[Bold face highlighting added during editing]

“It should be noted that recently, the foreign co-prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Robert Petit, had asked to open investigations on more former Khmer Rouge leaders, besides the five former Khmer Rouge leaders already detained in the special detention facility of the tribunal, waiting for hearings. However, the above request of Mr. Robert Petit was strongly opposed by the Cambodian co-prosecutor, Ms. Chea Leang, by strongly raising different reasons . [The US based organization] Human Rights Watch criticized the disagreement between Ms. Chea Leang and Mr. Robert Petit on his request, saying that this is political interference, raising the accusation that there is intervention by the Cambodian government.

“The investigating judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have not yet made a decision after the request of Mr. Robert Petit to investigate additional former Khmer Rouge leaders. In the meantime, Khmer citizens inside and outside of the country requested the investigation of more former Khmer Rouge leaders, in order to seek justice for the victims of the Killing Fields regime. It is regretted that high ranking officials of the Cambodian government accused foreign officials of the Khmer Rouge tribunal of interrupting the process by requesting to hear more former Khmer Rouge leaders, to be detained at the special detention facility of the tribunal.

“On the other hand, last week, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal amended 27 points of its internal regulations, but did not consider any request by non-government organizations. This results in further criticism of the hybrid tribunal by non-government organizations, for trying to conceal information, related to the process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Moreover, the fact that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal did not consider the requests by non-government organizations shows that the special tribunal is under strong political influence.

“It should be noted that in late 2008, many organizations submitted detailed requests for changes in the internal regulations of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Those organizations had said that their requests will lead to more openness: like allowing the public to attend, when those who are arrested are presented for the first time, and like the request to publish information about decisions how differences of opinion between prosecutors and investigating judges in the tribunal were solved. But during the plenary session of the investigating judges of the tribunal last week, these requests by non-government organizations were not raised for discussions.

“In a joint request by five non-government organizations, including the Center for Social Development – CSD, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC, and the Cambodian Open Society Justice Initiative, they ask for solutions for apparent problems of interpretation between the Agreement to establish the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, with the United Nations signed in 2003 with the Cambodian government, and the internal regulations of the tribunal. This request was not taken up for discussion during the plenary session of the judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, while an official hearing of Kaing Gek Iev, called Duch, will be held in late March. This problem creates distrust among national and international observers of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, while corruption allegations at the tribunal are not yet clarified.

“A former US ambassador in charge of war crimes, and an important negotiator to establish the tribunal, Mr. David Scheffer [as ambassador, he participated in the creation of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia], said Tuesday that it was not sure whether policy makers of this tribunal consider to publish such decisions or not. Mr. David Scheffer wrote in an email that it is important that they should not conclude and express views in writing about such sensitive points controversial among prosecutors. He added that the 2003 Agreement should be consulted.

“Some of those who observe the Khmer Rouge Tribunal since its beginning said that this tribunal cannot help Khmer citizens, who have been waiting for justice for more than 30 years, to see the real light of justice, because since it was created, the hybrid tribunal, established together with the United Nations, had to encounter various obstacles, especially corruption allegations, which almost makes this tribunal to lose its value. In addition, attacks between Cambodian government officials and foreign officials in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal lead to further postponement the hearings of former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“Some analysts criticized that both the United Nations and the Cambodian government seem not to have the will to prosecute the former Khmer Rouge leaders soon, and to provide justice to the victims who lost their lives during the Killing Fields regime. That is why the recent hearing of Duch on 17-18 February proceeded in a way which was useless [no explanation given why this newspaper comes to this opinion], and then the Cambodian side announced that it will completely run out of money in March. This announcement from the Cambodian side is a shame, since so far, not any Khmer leader has been prosecuted, while millions of dollars were already spent wastefully.

“Anyway, Khmer citizens inside and outside of the country want the hearings of former Khmer Rouge leaders to be conducted soon, to find out who created the Khmer Rouge, and to reveal the reasons that led to the crimes where more than 1.7 million Khmer citizens were killed during the Killing Fields regime.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3709, 12.3.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 12 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #137, 11.3.2009

  • Mr. Hor Namhong Asks the United Nations to Help Street Children
  • [Former Microsoft Corporation chief executive officer] Bill Gates’ Foundation Will Grant Aid to Develop Impoverished Communities in Phnom Penh [according to Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Man Chhoeun]
  • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen]: The Government Will Strengthen the Education Sector
  • The National Bank of Cambodia Points to the Downturn of Economic Growth in Cambodia in 2008 [which declined to 7.9%]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #362, 12.3.2009

  • [A parliamentarian of the Sam Rainsy Party] Yim Sovann: The Government Must Acknowledge the Serious Situation because of the Downturn of Cambodia’s Economic Growth

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1895, 12.3.2009

  • The Head of the Royal Government of Cambodia Criticizes Protectionist Policies [of other countris because they make some Least Developed Countries to face difficulties to export goods]
  • UNICEF Provides More Than US$6 Million for the Development of the Educational Sector of Cambodia
  • Vietnam [through a visiting commercial delegation] Seeks Development Partners in Cambodia
  • Dalai Lama: Tibet under Chinese Control Is Like Hell on the Earth [“March 10th Statement of H.H. the Dalai Lama” and a response by the People’s Daily Online: “Dalai Lama’s utter distortion of Tibet history”]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6600, 12.3.2009

  • Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech [Hun Sen] Warns that Those Who Continue Running Football Betting Will Be Sued at the Court

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3709, 12.3.2008

  • A High Ranking Official of the Government Criticizes that Foreign Officials Interrupt the Process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4843, 12.3.2009

  • Cambodia Allows [Laotian, Thai, and Vietnamese] People Who Hold Border Passports to Stay [in Cambodia] for One Week
  • A Man Sleeping in the Field to Guard Paddy Rice Was Hit and Killed, and a Small Tractor and 27 Bags of Paddy Rice Were Stolen [police are seeking the culprits – Bavel, Battambang]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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