A complaint against Prime Minister Hun Sen and other government officials was filed with the International Criminal Court yesterday on behalf of about 20 Cambodian human rights groups and victims, according to the lawyer representing them.
Unlike another ICC complaint against the government that will be filed next month by international lawyer Richard Rogers, yesterday’s complaint alleges crimes of genocide in addition to crimes against humanity, American human rights attorney Morton Sklar said.
“The genocide claims are based on Hun Sen’s efforts to interfere with the operations of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, and to stop investigations and prosecutions of Khmer Rouge atrocities in their tracks, so as to shield members of the Hun Sen government from criminal charges.”
New Zealander Rob Hamill, whose brother Kerry Hamill was captured and killed by the Khmer Rouge at S-21, is one of only three complainants identified in the filing, with the rest kept confidential out of fear of reprisals.
“I support any effort that pushes Cambodia’s leadership to give its people the respect they so richly deserve,” Hamill, who testified as a civil party in 2009 against S-21 boss Duch, said yesterday.
The two filings are “completely separate initiatives” on behalf of different victims, according to Rogers, who said it was normal for the ICC to receive multiple complaints related to similar allegations.
Sklar's complaint has no connection to the Cambodia National Rescue Party, whereas Rogers was asked to investigate by the CNRP, but on behalf of victims and not the party.
The claims of genocide based on supposed government interference at the KRT were “far-fetched and rather fanciful”, said international lawyer Michael Karnavas.
While government officials had made statements that could be construed as political interference, cases 003 and 004 are “being investigated”, he said.
“I personally have yet to see any direct or indirect evidence of interference. Just because certain suspects are being investigated, does not mean that they necessarily meet the jurisdictional threshold at the ECCC, or that they should even be prosecuted in the national courts," Karnavas said.
“Before lodging such serious accusations with all the hoopla and fanfare of a public-relations stunt, it is prudent to wait and see what the investigation turns up and the legal reasoning for whatever the Co-Investigative Judges decide, and even then, it is premature because appeals are likely to follow.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan could not be reached yesterday, but he has previously dismissed Rogers’ case as “a joke”.