REPRESENTATIVES of Cambodian civil society are echoing the reservations voiced by
UN Chief Legal Counsel Hans Corell regarding the KR tribunal law.
The long-delayed law was passed by the National Assembly and the Senate on Jan 2
and Jan 15 respectively and is currently awaiting the approval of the Constitutional
Council before being signed into law by King Norodom Sihanouk.
On Dec 26 the Center for Social Development released the results of a Jan 19 panel
discussion designed to "...permit Cambodians to voice their concerns about the
law". Panelists on hand to address those concerns included senators, legislators
and Khmer Institute for Democracy Executive Director Lao Mong Hay.
The panel discussion produced a list of nine key issues (see page 6) that participants
said required resolution in order to ensure a fair trial procedure.
The panel criticized the ambiguity of sections of the law, in particular the lack
of clarification regarding
the intention to prosecute "...those most responsible" for the genocide
and the government's commitment to prosecuting Ieng Sary, former KR Foreign Minister.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has stated repeatedly since the KR law was passed by the National
Assembly that prosecution of Ieng Sary would lead to a renewal of armed civil conflict
in the country.
Panelist Lao Mong Hay said a tribunal that did not indict Sary would be "nonsense".
"I strongly hold that without Ieng Sary being brought to justice, there's not
much point [in holding a tribunal]," he said.
The issues raised by the panel reinforced concerns first articulated on Jan 9 in
a confidential letter from Corell to Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An.
Corell warned Sok An that failure to prosecute Sary threatened UN support and participation
in the tribunal.
"In our discussion we were...in agreement that no one would be exempt from the
scrutiny of the investigating Judges and Prosecutors," Corell wrote. "...for
the United Nations it is important that this is abundantly clear to everyone...for
the UN this is a determining factor when it ultimately has to decide on its cooperation
with the Royal Government."