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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Agreement close on KR trial

Agreement close on KR trial

corel.jpg
corel.jpg

United Nations Undersecretary-General Hans Corell speaks to reporters on his arrival in Cambodia.

A TRIBUNAL against former Khmer Rouge leaders moved a step closer during the July

4-7 visit of UN Undersecretary-General Hans Corell.

The main purpose of Corell's discussion with the Government's tribunal task force

was to clarify technical issues and practical matters. Also, the United Nations had

hoped to be able to put down on paper what the two sides had already agreed on.

At Post press time the negotiations were still in progress, but both Corell and cabinet

minister Sok An, who heads the task force, said the proceedings were moving forward

"smoothly".

A source close to the negotiations also expressed optimism.

"It is beginning to look very much like the real thing," said the source.

However, Corell would not return to New York with a signed agreement between the

Government and the UN. The Cambodian side has demanded that a final international

agreement await National Assembly approval of the tribunal draft law.

The draft law was submitted to the National Assembly months ago, but the debate has

been postponed several times, and observers have said this could put the whole process

in jeopardy.

Corell also expressed concern over the Assembly debate and said he "would be

interested to know the Government's views on when it takes place and how."He

added that the UN might withdraw from the process if the National Assembly chose

to alter the law significantly from what had already been agreed.

"I think the secretary-general would probably draw the conclusion that that

would be the end of the story; we cannot continue indefinitely," Corell said.

After the first round of negotiations, Sok An acknowledged that the Government will

soon begin talks with the Assembly about the tribunal draft law.

"The important point is that after consultations with Hans Corell we will start

to work with the National Assembly to push forward this project," Sok An said.

Meanwhile, a group of human rights organizations in the Cambodian Human Rights Action

Committee called for greater transparency in the talks.

"We hope that the progress and the results of the talks will be made public,"

said committee chairman Thun Saray in a statement.

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