Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Scheffer line irks observers

Scheffer line irks observers

Scheffer line irks observers

A statement made by UN-appointed Special Expert David Scheffer this week is causing raised eyebrows among Khmer Rouge tribunal observers.

Speaking to Voice of America, Scheffer was quoted as saying the problems plaguing investigations into the two government-opposed cases at the tribunal could be overcome by a new international judge who had “greater co-operation with the government”.

Among those taking note of the statement was the Swiss investigating judge who resigned from the court after being blocked by the government from taking up his post at the tribunal.

“New judge perhaps can deal with a sense of ‘greater co-operation with the government’,” former reserve international co-investigating judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet tweeted yesterday with a link to the VOA article.

Kasper-Ansermet’s use of the social-media website was the core “ethical” reason Cambodia’s Supreme Council of Magistracy pointed to in blocking his appointment as a replacement for German judge Siegfried Blunk, who also quit the court citing perceptions of government interference in his work.

Scheffer has since submitted the names of two new judges to staff the troubled office to the Cambodian government and their appointments have been approved, although neither has taken up office yet.

Open Society Justice Initiative’s trial monitor Clair Duffy said the focus of the incoming judges should “not be about appeasing the Cambodian government, but rather about fulfilling [their] judicial obligations to genuinely and impartially investigate Cases 003 and 004”.

“The government is obliged to co-operate with the judges’ orders and decisions, and to give effect to them where necessary – not the other way around,” Duffy said in an email.

Blunk had come under fire from civil society for appearing to toe the government line in cases 003 and 004, and judges at the tribunal found serious deficiencies with his investigative work.

“As for judicial officers co-operating with the government, we have already seen the negative damage done to the ECCC’s legacy by Judge Blunk … This is not a good role model for the new judge,” Duffy highlighted.

“Although everyone hopes things will go better this time, in my view there is absolutely no evidence that the political opposition to genuine investigations in Cases 003/004 has abated.”

Government spokesmen con­tacted by the Post said they could not comment on tribunal matters.

Scheffer did not respond to requests for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]


  • Malaysia MP accused of ‘influencing law’

    Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP) Larry Sng arrived in Siem Reap early on Wednesday, in what was slammed by one NGO as efforts by Kuala Lumpur to “influence Cambodian law”. The Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh requested on January 30 “cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign

  • Ministries begin measures to offset EU’s EBA decision

    In the wake of the EU’s controversial announcement this week that it has begun the withdrawal process for Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential agreement, government ministries and political analysts continued to share their reactions and economic mitigation plans in preparation for the

  • Emirates launches route connecting Phnom Penh, Bangkok

    Emirates will launch a daily service on June 1 linking Phnom Penh (PNH) and Bangkok (BKK). The service from Phnom Penh to Dubai, via Bangkok, will provide more flight options to passengers travelling between the capitals of Cambodia and Thailand. Travellers from the Southeast Asian nations

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s