In the June 29 issue on page 4, The Phnom Penh Post reported that I had been part of a "small group of people who advocated that the former Khmer Rouge leader [sic] should be tried legitimately outside the country". I would like to correct this misrepresentation. Although I have been acutely aware, given my close work with the justice system, of the constraints and limitations of an international tribunal in Cambodia, or of the Cambodian judiciary hosting a tribunal upholding international standards of justice, I have always thought that if justice was to be due and done, this was first of all to Cambodians, and not to satisfy the bad conscience of some of the countries which have brought about disaster onto this country. A trial in Cambodia was thus the challenge if there was to be a meaningful justice process.
Although I have never been too vocal about a trial after so many years, I have consistently thought that a trial outside the country, be it in a country of the region, or in The Hague or elsewhere, would be meaningless for Cambodians. If a such trial can have a value in Cambodia, it is in demonstrating to Cambodians that some of the worst crimes of the past cannot remain unpunished, and that they must and will be tried.
This is the main task of the ECCC.
This is a very modest but important step towards combatting the sense of helplessness that many Cambodian who have lived during the Democratic Kampuchea years feel in their heart, the sense that "it is hopeless, that there is no justice in this world". It is a modest but important step to rebuild their confidence in the possibility of human justice, necessarily relative, and in the effort to rebuild a functioning judiciary, which has to gain the confidence of the people if it is to be seen as credible in delivering justice; and a modest but important step to pave the way for the long road to overcome the key issue of impunity in this country."
United Nations Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights
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