The Supreme Council of Magistracy is under no obligation to approve the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s reserve co-investigating judge and will not be forced to make a decision, Council of Ministers’ spokesmen from the Press and Quick Reaction Unit said at a snap press briefing yesterday.
Reserve co-investigaating judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet.
Any media or rights groups reporting that the SCM “must” approve the UN-nominated judge and urgently hold a meeting to give this approval are simply incorrect, Keo Remy, vice-president of PQRU, said.
“I would like to inform that now we have nothing to do besides wait for the decision made by the Supreme Council of Magistracy. We wait to see the result come out from them,” Keo Remy added.
Over the weekend, the UN’s nominee for international co-investigating judge, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, told the Post he had been informed by multiple sources that the SCM had quietly convened last Friday and decided to reject his nomination.
Judge Kasper-Ansermet was approved by the SCM as a reserve judge in December 2010 and under the law governing the tribunal, must replace his predecessor, German judge Siegfried Blunk. Blunk resigned in October amid government statements that opposed the tribunal’s controversial cases 003 and 004.
Kasper-Ansermet is due to take over investigations into cases 003 and 004, which are opposed by high-ranking government officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, who told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in 2010 that the cases would not be “allowed”.
“In relation to the appointment of the judge, the government has not interfered at all,” Keo Remy said.
“The agreement is that the UN side nominates, then the SCM makes approval,” Keo Remy said, adding the government was no obstacle in the appointment, and that there was procedure to be undertaken first by the SCM, which is headed by King Norodom Sihamoni.
“But we have a duty to monitor activities, because Prime Minister Hun Sen has guaranteed stability under his leadership, and if there was a war to return and make chaos, the Prime Minister would be the person blamed,” he said at the press conference, where he singled out two local newspapers and rights groups the Open Society Justice Initiative and Cambodian Centre for Human Rights as incorrectly reporting that the SCM must appoint Kasper-Ansermet.
Both the Open Society Justice Initiative and Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, neither of whom were invited to nor informed of the press briefing yesterday, have called for the immediate endorsement of Kasper-Ansermet in accordance with the 2003 agreement between the UN and Cambodia that established the tribunal.
OSJI’s Clair Duffy said her monitoring group had simply repeated the wording of Article 5.5 and 5.6 of that agreement.
“The agreement says that if a judge has to be replaced, they must be replaced by the reserve judge,” Duffy said yesterday.
“The UN and the government appear to be at another impasse in relation to these judicial investigations [cases 003 and 004],” she added.
“The UN needs to address the heart of this crisis, and not just treat it as another problem in this impasse.”
CCHR president Ou Virak likewise stood by his group’s position that under the agreement between the UN and the Royal Government, the SCM must confirm Kasper-Ansermet as international co-investigating judge.
The SCM’s appointment of Kasper-Ansermet’s predecessor, Blunk, was immediate in December 2010. However, Kasper-Ansermet has been waiting more than three months for his appointment, with no official word of when the SCM will perform its duties.
The UN did not respond to requests for comment.