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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - What will the KR Tribunal achieve?

What will the KR Tribunal achieve?


From day one, the Khmer Rouge began evacuating the capital of its residents. Urbanites were forced to abandon nearly everything, taking only what they could carry by hand.

Some people have said that the Government would be better to spend money on development

rather than spending it on a Khmer Rouge tribunal. Why do they say this?

Some people may agree with this statement when they know that this tribunal will

spend millions of US dollars per year. It may be because they do not know clearly

about the benefits or advantages from this tribunal or they do not trust any court

system at all.

Why does the civil society and myself support the existence of this tribunal? I support

this tribunal because I believe if this tribunal is well setup and organized, Cambodia

will achieve the following points:

1.To find justice for millions of victim of the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975-1979

(access to justice).

2.To find the truth about why a head of state (Pol Pot) of a country killed his own

people (finding the truth). It will be used as a lesson for other leaders in the

world not to copy or repeat the same mistake.

3. To relieve Khmer Rouge trauma.

4. To act as a warning to other leaders in the world and future leaders of Cambodia

that they cannot escape from justice and responsibility during their rule (deterrence).

5. To use as a model for judicial reform in Cambodia.

6. To abolish the culture of impunity.

At present, people do not trust Cambodia's court system at all. For example, the

Kbal Spean cases [where police shot five villagers dead in a land dispute in Pursat]:

if the people trusted the Cambodian court and believed that the decision of the court

was fair and respectful, the people would not object to the execution of the verdict

and no tragedy would have happened.

So, Cambodia should reform and strengthen the judiciary even if this country spends

a large amount of money. The Extraordinary Chamber for Khmer Rouge Leaders can help

to reform the Cambodian judiciary if this chamber is well setup. The Cambodian civil

society recommended to the Government and UN to allow this tribunal to have special

rules so that it will able to perform well and will be used as a model for Cambodia's

judicial reform.

All judges, including both Cambodian and foreign judges, must sit and define clear

rules for the tribunal to be sure that the performance of the court meets international

standards. They cannot use the current criminal procedural code for this tribunal

because Cambodia knows that our court system is not good and must be reformed. In

fact, the Cambodian Government is drafting a new criminal procedure code. If the

court rules of criminal procedure are good enough, the government need not reform

and the prime minister not need yell at the Phnom Penh court.

In our current system, prosecutors are inactive. They do not provide evidence because

trial judges are active in questioning the witnesses and the accused. Therefore,

I recommend that the UN and the Cambodian government establish a special course for

prosecutors focusing in particular on trial techniques and prosecution strategies.

However, the dictators may be afraid of an independent court system and may be afraid

to hear that leaders can be brought to justice for their past conducts or their past

mistakes. But I believe that all of our current leaders had bad experiences and suffered

under the Khmer Rouge regime, and are not all happy with corrupt courts. For instance,

recently the prime minister was angry with Phnom Penh Court judges and prosecutors.

Therefore, I believe that they will support the Extraordinary Chamber for Khmer Rouge

leaders and make this tribunal effective.



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