Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Delay in appointing judge worries UN

Delay in appointing judge worries UN

Delay in appointing judge worries UN

The United Nations expressed concern yesterday about ongoing delays in Cambodia to officially appoint international Reserve Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet to the full position at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Kasper-Ansermet, a Swiss national, was nominated by the UN to replace former international co-Investigating judge Siegfried Blunk, who resigned abruptly in October.

Martin Nesirky, spokesman for the UN office of the secretary-general, said via email yesterday the UN had “made every effort” to secure Kasper-Ansermet’s appointment, including  several discussions with Cambodian officials.

“The United Nations is concerned that, more than three months after the resignation of the international Co-Investigating Judge, the Supreme Council of the Magistracy has not appointed the reserve international Co-Investigating Judge to replace him,” Nesirky said.

He added that, according to the agreement that established the tribunal, Cambodia was obliged to appoint the reserve judge to the position when it fell vacant.

Sam Pracheameanith, chief of cabinet at the Ministry of Justice, told the Post he was unsure when the Supreme Council of Magistracy would call a meeting about Kasper-Ansermet’s appointment.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana and Appeal Court prosecutor Uk Savuth, both Supreme Council of Magistracy members, could not reached.

Since his arrival in Cambodia, Kasper-Ansermet has sparred with National Co-Investigating Judge You Bunleng.

In a statement released by the court this week, he said he regretted Bunleng’s disagreement with him about the release of “important” information regarding the files for cases 003 and 004.

Bunleng  replied that Kasper-Ansermet was not “legally accredited” to undertake action with respect to the case files.

Clair Duffy, a monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, said yesterday that while the UN’s engagement with the government should continue, the broader issue was the government overstepping its executive authority in relation to the court’s prosecutions.

“Whether that’s by publicly stating its opposition to the cases, by stalling on providing a rubber stamp to Kasper-Ansermet’s appointment or by its administrators dismantling the [Office of the Co-Investigating Judges],” she said.

“That’s never been addressed head-on by the UN.”