PRIME Minister Hun Sen announced on April 25 that the process to approve the stalled
KR tribunal draft law would be back on track ahead of the Consultative Group donors
meeting in Tokyo in June.
The Prime Minister said he expected the Council of Ministers to approve the law for
re-consideration by the National Assembly, Senate and Constitutional Council prior
to his appearance at the June 11-13 Tokyo CG meeting
The KR draft law suffered its most recent setback on February 12, when the Constitutional
Council objected to its Section 3 references to the 1956 penal code, which decrees
the death penalty for crimes of murder, torture and religious persecution. Article
32 of the Cambodian Consitution forbids capital punishment.
The Constitutional Council made the ruling in spite of objections from legal experts
and legislators that the draft law's Article 38 specifically disallows the death
Neither Hun Sen nor Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An would clarify the
Council of Jurists two-month delay in deleting the offending passages of Article
On April 24 Sok An said the Council of Jurists would need only to "rewrite a
few words" to alleviate the Constitutional Council's concerns.
"We are waiting for the National Assembly to commence its session, then we will
send [the revised draft law] as soon as possible," Sok An told reporters.
While National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh stated on April 24 that
he had "no reason to delay debate on the KR draft law", on April 26 NA
Deputy Secretary-General Chan Ven confirmed there had been no move to put the item
on the NA's agenda. The NA is scheduled to resume session on May 2.
"I think that it is easy to explain why the KR draft law hasn't been scheduled
for debate...it's because the government hasn't sent us a [revised] draft,"
Youk Chhang, Director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, says the government's
linkage of the draft law's progress to the upcoming CG meeting in Tokyo is not accidental.
According to Chhang, the Cambodian government's willingness to effect progress in
the tribunal progress has in the past been frequently related to its attempts to
positively influence its dealings with the international community.
"I think that the KR tribunal law will be signed into law only when the government
thinks that there is a good opportunity to exchange [the law's approval] with something
from the international community," Chhang predicted.
"But I think that effecting justice for the deaths of a million people shouldn't
be exchanged for political or financial gains...to do so is to demean the victims."