US Senator John Kerry's one-day visit to Phnom Penh on November 20 may have revived
Government efforts toward the formation of a long-delayed tribunal for former leaders
of the Khmer Rouge.
Kerry left Phnom Penh with firm promises from the Minister of the Council of Ministers,
Sok An, Prime Minister Hun Sen, and National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh
that the tribunal process will move forward following a schedule that could allow
the National Assembly to pass the law in December.
According to that schedule, Sok An will begin briefing the National Assembly's Legislative
Commission immediately after he returns from a an Asean meeting in Singapore on November
Commission Chairman Monh Sophan confirmed that a meeting is tentatively scheduled
for November 30. The briefing will take between five and 10 days, after which the
law will be submitted for debate in the National Assembly.
"Everybody that I met with have all agreed that the tribunal process can be
expedited, and it will be done so according to a very specific schedule," Kerry
said at a press conference at Pochentong Airport.
Sophan has been waiting to be briefed on the contents of a tribunal agreement hammered
out between the Cambodian Government and the UN, during a visit by UN Undersecretary-General
Hans Corell from July 5 till 7.
The Commission was not able to continue its work on the draft law without Sok An
briefing its members on the agreement, since it contains substantial changes to the
original law text from January. Since Corell's visit, Sok An has only met once with
But during the last two weeks, members of Sok An's tribunal task force have met repeatedly
to prepare the documents that will form the basis of the Commission briefings.
Sources say the contents of the briefing documents mainly correspond with the UN-proposed
draft law that Corell left behind in July, though there are some differences.
In spite of his optimism that progress toward the establishment of a KR tribunal
is imminent, Kerry said it remains to be seen whether Government promises to obey
its own tight time-frame will be kept.
"Obviously the proof will be in what happens in the next few weeks," Kerry
said. "This is the test. And it's a test that only the National Assembly and
the Government itself can successfully dictate the outcome of."