Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Scheffer line irks observers

Scheffer line irks observers

Scheffer line irks observers

A statement made by UN-appointed Special Expert David Scheffer this week is causing raised eyebrows among Khmer Rouge tribunal observers.

Speaking to Voice of America, Scheffer was quoted as saying the problems plaguing investigations into the two government-opposed cases at the tribunal could be overcome by a new international judge who had “greater co-operation with the government”.

Among those taking note of the statement was the Swiss investigating judge who resigned from the court after being blocked by the government from taking up his post at the tribunal.

“New judge perhaps can deal with a sense of ‘greater co-operation with the government’,” former reserve international co-investigating judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet tweeted yesterday with a link to the VOA article.

Kasper-Ansermet’s use of the social-media website was the core “ethical” reason Cambodia’s Supreme Council of Magistracy pointed to in blocking his appointment as a replacement for German judge Siegfried Blunk, who also quit the court citing perceptions of government interference in his work.

Scheffer has since submitted the names of two new judges to staff the troubled office to the Cambodian government and their appointments have been approved, although neither has taken up office yet.

Open Society Justice Initiative’s trial monitor Clair Duffy said the focus of the incoming judges should “not be about appeasing the Cambodian government, but rather about fulfilling [their] judicial obligations to genuinely and impartially investigate Cases 003 and 004”.

“The government is obliged to co-operate with the judges’ orders and decisions, and to give effect to them where necessary – not the other way around,” Duffy said in an email.

Blunk had come under fire from civil society for appearing to toe the government line in cases 003 and 004, and judges at the tribunal found serious deficiencies with his investigative work.

“As for judicial officers co-operating with the government, we have already seen the negative damage done to the ECCC’s legacy by Judge Blunk … This is not a good role model for the new judge,” Duffy highlighted.

“Although everyone hopes things will go better this time, in my view there is absolutely no evidence that the political opposition to genuine investigations in Cases 003/004 has abated.”

Government spokesmen con­tacted by the Post said they could not comment on tribunal matters.

Scheffer did not respond to requests for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]


  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all