Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A checkered history of support for the KRT from civil society



A checkered history of support for the KRT from civil society

A checkered history of support for the KRT from civil society

Dear Editor,

The "comment" by CHRAC and other NGOs (many of which are members of CHRAC) on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Wednesday's Post contained a remarkable statement:

"Members of the NGO community in Cambodia have been strong supporters of an independent and credible tribunal to address Khmer Rouge crimes in a manner that meets international standards and leaves behind a strong legacy for Cambodian courts."

The statement may be true of some members of some NGOs, but it is demonstrably untrue of CHRAC.

Most Cambodian NGOs that expressed an opinion at the time were opposed to a joint Cambodian-international trial of the KR. They favored a completely international trial, located outside Cambodia, which would have left a "legacy" of nothing at all for Cambodian courts.

During the long negotiations to establish the ECCC, public comments by Cambodian NGOs (and some international ones as well) were generally to the effect that there was no point in negotiating with the Cambodian government. [They argued the government] really didn't want a trial, and that the UN or "international community" should conduct trials unilaterally, without involving Cambodians in any role other than as defendants and witnesses.

When the UN Office of Legal Affairs pulled out of the negotiations in February 2002, the "NGO community" applauded enthusiastically. CHRAC issued a press release stating that it "would like to express its understanding of and support for the United Nations decision to withdraw from the current process of establishing a tribunal for the Khmer Rouge".

The CHRAC press release went on, in the name of "the Cambodian people at large", to declare that "only the United Nations has the power and credibility needed for justice" and to urge the UN "to persist in its best efforts to provide for redress and justice in Cambodia" - but without negotiating with the Cambodian government.

And CHRAC added that it didn't want Cambodia to receive any other outside help:

"With regard to individual member states of the UN, CHRAC urges them not to consider participating in any tribunal unless it is held under the auspices of the UN."

When the ECCC was established as a joint court despite CHRAC's advice, it necessarily changed the form of its "support", although not the real content. CHRAC has spent the last three years sniping at Cambodian involvement in the court, from attacking the Bar Association for acting like a Bar Association, to telling the government how much money it should contribute to the court, to accusing unnamed persons of having killed Ta Mok by denying him medical care (the evidence for the last claim being the assertion that it was "generally believed").

Allen Myers

Phnom Penh

MOST VIEWED

  • First Khmer woman to pass out of West Point

    The life of a soldier certainly isn’t for everyone. The training is gruelling, the hours long and there’s no room for excuses. On top of that, soldiers must be ready to respond to sudden threats at a moment’s notice. Just ask Sithyka

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last