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CBA's road to standoff with ECCC

CBA's road to standoff with ECCC

1995: The Law on the Bar is passed. Cambodian Bar Association (CBA) is established

with Say Bory as president.

October 1998: Ang Eng Thong is elected CBA president.

2003: Cambodia's pending membership of the World Trade Organization requires

the CBA to consider lifting restrictions on the rights of foreign lawyers to practice

in the country. Restrictions are not lifted.

January 2004: Four senior members of the CPP - Hun Sen, Sar Kheng, Sok An,

and Prum Sokha - apply to join the Bar Association.

February 2004: The Cambodian government-funded renovation of the CBA's Phnom

Penh headquarters begins.

September 15, 2004: Hun Sen, Sar Kheng, Sok An, and Prum Sokha are sworn in

as members of the CBA, despite evidence that none possess the requisite qualifications,

such as a law degree.

September 16, 2004: Hun Sen presides over the opening of the CBA's new office

building on Street 180.

October 16, 2004: Presidential elections for the CBA are held. In the second-round

runoff, incumbent president Ky Tech loses the election with 108 votes to Soun Visal's


October 26, 2004: Tech alleges that Visal breached the CBA's campaigning rules

and refuses to relinquish power.

November 19, 2004: The Court of Appeals holds a closed-door session in which

the results of the October 16 election are nullified. Tech is awarded an interim

three months presidency.

November 30, 2004: A majority of the council members of the CBA issue a statement

backing Visal and saying they will refuse to recognize any actions taken by Tech.

June 2, 2005: The Supreme Court annuls the November 19 Court of Appeals decision

and sends the case back to them. Buoyed by this decision, Visal has a new CBA official

stamp and bar letterhead made.

June 27, 2005: Tech filed a complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court

accusing Visal and his colleagues of forgery over the use of the CBA's official stamp

and bar letterhead.

July, 4 2005: 12 CBA Council members appeal to Hun Sen for intervention to

resolve the dispute over the presidency. No intervention is forthcoming.

July 6, 2005: 12 CBA Council members appeal to the Ministry of Justice for

intervention to resolve the dispute over the presidency. No intervention is forthcoming.

September 15, 2005: 12 CBA council members request that the election of the

council members - scheduled for October 16 - be combined with a vote for president.

They also urge Tech to drop charges of forgery against Visal. Both requests are denied

and the CBA council members election is cancelled.

September 2005: The International Bar Association (IBA) warns the CBA it faces

expulsion unless it can hold free, fair, and open elections.

December 5, 2005: Tech, Visal, and 17 of the 19 CBA council members convene

at the bar office and, after discussion mediated by Mark Ellis, executive director

of the IBA, agree to annul the results of the October 2004 presidential election

and organize a new presidency and council election for

March 16, 2006. It is agreed that all lawsuits will be withdrawn from the courts.

December 26, 2005: The agreement is sent to the general prosecutor at the

Appeal Court, Hanrot Raken, who forwards it to the court for consideration. The Appeal

Court fails to respond. The March 16 election is unable to proceed.

July 17, 2006: The Appeal Court instructs Tech to organize presidency and

council elections.

July 28, 2006: Tech invites council members to discuss the process of election preparation

and the qualifications of the presidential and council candidates.

August 9, 2006: The CBA council decides, by a slim majority, to hold elections

on October 16, 2006.

October 16, 2006: The CBA holds bar presidency and council member elections.

In the second-round runoff Tech receives 157 votes, clearly beating Visal's 143,

and giving him the presidency until October 2008. "Even though it is unjust,

I want to end the dispute; I am very bored with it," Visal said after the election.

November 20, 2006: Tech addresses the plenary session of the Extraordinary

Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). His comments, and questions he raised

about the roles of the CBA and the ECCC's defense unit, are controversial, ECCC observers


November 22, 2006: Tech threatens to take legal action against anyone who

participates in a five-day training course on international criminal law offered

by the Defense Office of the ECCC and the IBA.

November 23, 2006: The CBA issues a letter ordering members not to attend

the IBA training session.

November 24, 2006: The IBA cancels the training course and issues a statement

in which it says the CBA's prohibition on the training course is part of a wider

scheme of opposition designed to obstruct the operation of the ECCC.

November 25, 2006: Officials from the ECCC fail to agree on crucial procedural

rules. The most contentious issue is the role of the Defense Office of the ECCC and

the process of certifying foreign lawyers to practice in Cambodia.

December 5, 2006: Human Rights Watch says the CBA's attacks on the ECCC's

defense office are "politically charged."

December 5, 2006: Sok An writes to the United Nations asking to reopen dialogue

to resolve the dispute over the role of the defense office at the ECCC.

December 19, 2006: Extracts of the UN's response to Sok An are released by

the ECCC. The response quotes previous UN/Cambodian government agreements over the

establishment of a defense office at the ECCC.

January 16, 2007: ECCC judges convene for a two-week meeting aiming to find

a consensus on internal rules.

January 26, 2007: ECCC judges fail to reach agreement. The most important

unresolved issue is the right of foreign counsel to appear before the tribunal.

March 7, 2007: The ECCC rules committee meets in a final attempt to reach

agreement over the court's draft internal rules.

March 16, 2007: The international judges on the ECCC rules committee say the

fees the CBA demands from foreign lawyers wanting to practice at the ECCC are too

high. They say the CBA's fees are the only remaining obstacle to adopting the court's

internal rules.

-Compiled by Cat Barton


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