Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Scott languishes as debate hots up

Scott languishes as debate hots up

Scott languishes as debate hots up

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

critics.

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.

Speaking

independently, they both challenged human rights groups - particularly the UN

Center for Human Rights (UNCHR) - to stand up for Scott's rights.

The

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

past.

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."

Julian

said that, as a former human rights advocate, she abhorred

pedophilia.

But the magnitude of the allegation against Scott entitled

him to "the full weight of the law, both from the prosecution and from the

defense".

Without that, there would be only a "kangaroo

court".

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

defender.

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

isn't."

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

Licadho.

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

him.

"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.

He was

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

busy."

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.

MOST VIEWED

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth

  • School reopening can’t wait

    With the Covid-19 pandemic now well into its second year, safely reopening schools has become an urgent priority. School attendance is critical for children’s education and lifetime prospects. The long-term costs of closures – both for individual children and society – are simply too large to

  • Kingdom set to be a gold producer

    Cambodia will soon join the roster of gold producing countries after the government announced the commencement of commercial gold mining operations in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province's Keo Seima district from June 21. Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 10 announced that after 14 years of