A US-sponsored compromise on the prosecution at a future Khmer Rouge tribunal has
met with cynicism. The compromise proposes to set up a "review board" of
judges to solve possible disputes between the Cambodian/foreign coprosecution.
Human rights lawyer Brad Adams fears that the introduction of a "review board"
will politicize the KR trial.
"No credible legal system operates this way. Prosecutors must have the discretion
to indict based on the evidence, not on a vote of [the] politically motivated,"
Also, he doubts that the structure will take the power to prevent prosecution out
of the government's hands.
"Hun Sen will control the Cambodian votes, and I have little doubt that since
the tribunal is in Cambodia, he and resident diplomats will attempt and probably
succeed in influencing the decision of at least one of the foreign members of the
board," says Adams.
"Arguments will be made about peace and national reconciliation and it will
only take one foreign judge to buy into this to kill an indictment".
Genocide researcher Craig Etcheson points out that the "review board" introduces
yet another legal element into an already complicated structure.
"It is already completely abnormal. Coprosecutors who have to negotiate with
one another; outside panels voting on contested indictments; a bench rife with blatant
political appointments. It goes on and on and is definitely not anywhere near what
one might call 'international judicial standards'," says Etcheson.
"It could get extremely ugly and embarrassing - or at least embarrassing to
anyone who is capable of being embarrassed."