Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Amnesty's KR trial stand slated

Amnesty's KR trial stand slated

Amnesty's KR trial stand slated

The founder and director of the Cambodian Genocide Project has come out against the

positions held by two international human rights organizations on the proposed Khmer

Rouge tribunal.

Dr Gregory H Stanton said Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch were

"superb organizations", but implied their quest for perfection in a genocide

trial was misguided. Both organizations have lobbied the UN General Assembly to reject

the deal arguing that the mixed tribunal format left justice at the mercy of local

politics.

"[T]o reject the Agreement because the court cannot do everything is equivalent

to saying that because all law-breakers cannot be captured and tried, none should

be," he wrote in an April 26 statement titled Perfection is the Enemy of Justice.

Stanton, who is also the president of Genocide Watch and coordinator of The International

Campaign to End Genocide, criticized as self-defeating the "all or none"

approach that human rights groups have long taken toward the crimes of the Khmer

Rouge.

"In 1981, when I asked the International Commission of Jurists to undertake

investigations of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge, the Chairman of the Board refused

with the reason that if they could not investigate violations by the Vietnamese-backed

government that drove the Khmer Rouge from power, they would not investigate the

Khmer Rouge mass murders," he wrote.

Stanton's was the latest salvo over the proposed tribunal as its heads towards adoption

by the General Assembly. A draft agreement was reached between Cambodia and UN negotiators

on March 17, and subsequently passed on May 2 by the Assembly's Third Committee.

The Assembly itself is expected to pass the deal shortly, which could allow a tribunal

to begin work as soon as 2004.

A UN statement estimated it would cost more than $19 million to finance the tribunal.

That would pay for setting up and running the Extraordinary Chambers, the office

of the prosecutors and the co-investigating judges, the Pre-Trial Chamber and the

Office of Administration.

The agreement received a mixed review from the Assembly's Third Committee before

it was passed. The US representative supported the proposal but said it should not

have been considered until after July's general election.

Japan and the UK were both in favor, but the Dutch representative said his delegation

would have preferred further negotiations between the UN and Phnom Penh to "ensure

that international standards of justice were upheld".

But AI remains opposed to the agreement.

"Although an improvement on previous proposals, following the hard work of the

UN's Office of Legal Affairs, Amnesty International continues to assert that the

current draft agreement for the establishment of a tribunal does not sufficiently

guarantee international standards for fairness, and requires revision," the

organization said in an April 28 statement.

In his statement, Stanton accused AI of being ill-informed about the content of the

Cambodian trial law.

"AI complains that the Agreement does not mention Article 9 of the ICCPR [International

Covenant on Civil and Political Rights], concerning arrest and a speedy trial,"

he wrote. "But Cambodia is already bound as a party to the entire ICCPR, and

repeats these rights in Article 35 of its tribunal law."

He also criticized AI for "ignoring [the fact that] the Sierra Leone tribunal

and courts in East Timor and Kosovo, are also mixed courts". That came after

AI argued that the mixture of Cambodian and international judges was without precedent

in any domestic or international court.

Stanton further questioned the human rights body's interpretation of the law in relation

to "superior orders". AI had argued that there was nothing in the agreement

that would prevent a suspect from claiming as a defense that he was just following

orders. Stanton said the tribunal law was clear on that point.

"[That ignores] Article 29 of the Cambodian law, which says: 'The fact that

a Suspect acted pursuant to an order of the Government of Democratic Kampuchea or

of a superior shall not relieve the Suspect of individual criminal responsibility',"

he wrote.

"The Cambodian people have waited 24 years for justice. AI's Report recommends

yet more negotiations. The surviving Khmer Rouge leaders are old men, living in comfortable

retirement. The UN General Assembly should approve the UN Cambodian Agreement to

bring them to trial," Stanton concluded.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four