While new international co-investigating judges have yet to be appointed, Khmer Rouge tribunal civil party lawyers are questioning whether their eventual arrival will be enough to address the endemic issues that have stymied the progress of government-opposed cases 003 and 004.
Civil party lawyers in the two cases Prime Minister Hun Sen has said are “not allowed” will today issue a request to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers to conduct an inquiry at the tribunal.
“The Civil Party Lawyers call for urgent investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur into the conduct by various elements of the ECCC that threaten the independence of the judiciary as well as the right of the Khmer Rouge victims to participate in the criminal proceedings in cases 003 and 004,” the lawyers said in a joint statement.
Lyma Nguyen, a lawyer representing a number of Case 003 civil parties, including New Zealand victims’ advocate Rob Hamill, told the Post there is a risk that delay in appointing new UN judges could also hinder the work of resigned judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet.
Kasper-Ansermet pushed forward Case 003 with judicial acts such as reopening investigations, informing the suspects in the case of their rights and granting civil party lawyers access to the case file.
However, these acts were not recognised by the Cambodian side at the tribunal, who insist the Swiss national was not properly appointed.
“There are clearly underlying issues which need to be resolved if the investigations in cases 003 and 004 are to be completed in accordance with international standards of due process – that is, without political interference and with complete judicial independence,” Lyma Nguyen, a Case 003 civil party lawyer said yesterday.
Silke Studinsky, another civil party lawyer in Case 003, told the Post that she and her Cambodian counterpart are still not able to access the case file in 003, despite Kasper-Ansermet’s specific order allowing them access.
UN Special Expert David Scheffer told the Post late last week that the process to appoint two international judges at the tribunal is “well under way”.
“As the need arises, positions will continue to be advertised and candidates considered in the office of the international co-investigating judge,” Scheffer said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]