A de facto court of human rights workers has already effectively convicted Gavin
Scott of pedophilia, ignoring his rights in the process, according to two
Michael Karnavas, previously of the Cambodian Defenders Project,
and Rae Julian, a former Human Rights Commissioner of New Zealand, said this
week they were disturbed by serious breaches of Scott's rights.
independently, they both challenged human rights groups - particularly the UN
Center for Human Rights (UNCHR) - to stand up for Scott's rights.
Post has reported that Scott, a British doctor charged with raping boys, is
being defended by an untrained Khmer defender.
Oum Samuel, administration
director of the Charto defenders group, personally took Scott's case after at
least two other defenders organizations declined.
Samuel has not been
trained as a defender, but has defended "a couple" of petty theft cases in the
Rae Julian said that under the UN Convention on Civil and Political
Rights, Scott was guaranteed the right to a fair defense. She questioned how the
untrained Samuel could provide that.
"How can he ensure that his client
has a defense which takes into account all aspects of the law? A legally-trained
prosecutor will have a free hand in court. What should be a fair trial will
become a mockery," Julian said.
"It appears that Dr Scott has been judged
before his trial. No human rights organization is speaking out, not even the UN
Center for Human Rights. No qualified defender will act for him."
said that, as a former human rights advocate, she abhorred
But the magnitude of the allegation against Scott entitled
him to "the full weight of the law, both from the prosecution and from the
Without that, there would be only a "kangaroo
Julian, who held the New Zealand statutory position of Human
Rights Commissioner from 1987-92, was an UNTAC electoral supervisor and now
works in Phnom Penh.
Michael Karnavas, former interim director of the
Cambodia Defenders Project (CDP), said Oum Samuel was the "most unqualified"
person at Charto to defend Scott.
Karnavas ran a two-day legal workshop
for Charto defenders some time ago, which he said Samuel declined to attend "on
the basis that he was an administrator, not a defender".
"I guess the
ultimate question that should be posed to him [Samuel] is if he was in Dr
Scott's position, would he be comfortable with someone such as himself
representing him on such charges?
"The fact is that he wouldn't be, and
neither would anyone else."
Karnavas said human rights groups had been
silent on Scott's inability to get a competent defender. There appeared to be an
attitude of "he's guilty, so let him hang".
"It seems he has already been
convicted....by groups who stand for human rights but are prepared to look the
other way in this matter."
He believed both the UNCHR and the British
Embassy should being pushing to ensure Scott had a competent
Karnavas said he knew that a UNCHR staff member had offered
"informal advice" and "moral support" to the Licadho human rights group, one of
the NGOs behind Scott's arrest.
While he was not accusing that person of
"taking sides", "the point is that he is part of the same organization which
should now be jumping in to help Dr Scott get access to a defender - and it
Karnavas acknowledged that he himself was one reason why Scott
did not have a competent defender.
While director of CDP, he had
discussed the Scott case with a Licadho representative who approached him for
legal advice, and later allowed a CDP defender to act as a translator for
By doing so, he put CDP - a defenders' organization - in the
position of helping the prosecution of Scott. CDP has since refused to represent
Scott because of the conflict of interest.
Karnavas agreed that the
actions of Licadho and himself "compromised Dr Scott's position in being able to
get the CDP, perhaps the best-trained defenders group in Cambodia, to represent
"I can only say it was a pure act of stupidity on my part...At some
point you have got to 'fess up."
But it was now all that more important
that other experienced defenders took Scott's case, he said.
critical of the CADEAS defenders' group - which also refused Scott's case - and
of Charto for its apparent reluctance to accept the help of independent British
lawyer Robert Carlin.
Carlin, who as a foreigner cannot by law represent
Scott without a Khmer defender, has been trying for more than six weeks to get
adequate representation for the Scott.
Carlin said this week that he and
Oum Samuel had only met once since Samuel accepted the case.
"I have made
myself available to Charto on a daily basis, I've asked and offered to discuss
the case on a daily basis, but I've been told he [Samuel] is too
Daniel Premont, director of the UNCHR - which Carlin says he
unsuccessfully approached for help some weeks ago - said it was not his staff's
job to "go to court to defend people".
He said the UNCHR did help to
train staff of NGOs, including Licadho, but was in no way involved in the
prosecution of Scott.
Premont said he was happy to consider any request
for the UNCHR to examine Scott's case, and "I will do my best to help him if he
needs more [human rights] protection."
At press time, Scott remained in
T3 prison, where he had been since June 23.