Nine days after the resumption of National Assembly sessions on May 2, NA officials
offer little hope that approval of the Khmer Rouge draft tribunal law has been prioritized.
"I think that the key to whether the [KR law is approved] depends on the government,"
said NA First Vice-President Heng Samrin. "I believe that the draft law will
come to the National Assembly during this session [but] I can't confirm when."
Om Yen Tieng, advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen, reiterated Hun Sen's position outlined
in the latest issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review that speedy progress of the
draft law through the Kingdom's legislative branches depended on an absence of "UN
"I think [the UN] shouldn't add any more problems," he said. "The
UN cannot understand [the KR draft law] better than Cambodians."
Yen Tieng echoed Hun Sen's May 2 assertions that a tribunal could be formed as soon
as September pending UN agreement with the law's final version.
The "UN interference" mentioned by both the Prime Minister and Om Yen Tieng
refers to the Jan 9, 2000 written request from UN Chief Legal Counsel Hans Corell
that a list of changes imposed unilaterally by the Cambodian government on the original
draft of the law agreed by the two sides be reversed.
In particular, Corell demanded the re-insertion of language in the draft law's Article
40 that specified that previously granted amnesties not be a bar to prosecution.
Article 40 was designed to ensure that a 1996 royal amnesty given to former KR Foreign
Minister Ieng Sary not shield him from possible prosecution.
The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a grouping of 18 of the Kingdom's
human rights NGOs, issued an appeal on May 3 asking that the UN's concerns be addressed
and that progress on the passage of the draft law be speeded up.
"CHRAC would like to request the Royal Government to incorporate in [the draft
law] those provisions of the agreement on the KR trial reached between the government
and the UN that had been left out of the original draft of that law," the appeal
stated. "The entire Cambodian nation would badly lose face in the world [if]
truth and justice could not be found for the victims."
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy announced on May 8 that his party would not vote in
favor of the draft law if the UN's concern went unaddressed.
"If the UN recognizes the KR tribunal law as meeting international standards
of justice, I will order my lawmakers to vote to support it with both hands,"
Rainsy said. "If the government only changes a few words regarding the provision
of the death penalty...my parliamentarians will not vote [in support of the law]."
Progress toward the formation of a KR tribunal has been frozen since Feb 12, when
the Constitutional Council demanded that references to the death penalty, prohibited
under Cambodian law, be deleted.