THERE appears a need clarify to the status of various versions of the Draft Law on
the Khmer Rouge tribunal, as some confusion may result from the Phnom Penh Post October
27-November 9, 2000 article "KR tribunal secrecy denounced"by Anette Marcher
and the Post's release on to the Internet of a text described as reflecting "the
changes agreed upon by United Nations Undersecretary-General Hans Corell and the
Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An on July 7 2000".
The texts released by the Phnom Penh Post on the Internet of the Draft Law and of
the draft Memorandum of Understanding (or Articles of Cooperation) differ in a number
of points from those presented by Mr Hans Corell on July 7. It should also be noted
that the July 7 texts could not possibly have been endorsed at the negotiations,
as meetings were held only on July 5 and 6.
Both texts of the Draft Law from the July negotiations have a cover letter stating
clearly that they are the text which "the UN and the Cambodian delegations have
agreed to work on", and neither bears the signature of the parties as agreed
documents. The Royal Government of Cambodia still considers the January draft endorsed
by the Council of Ministers to be the official version under discussion by the National
Assembly together with a number of proposed amendments that have emerged over the
ensuing months, particularly those reached in the two further rounds of negotiations
with the UN.
During the July negotiations both parties agreed that they would not publicly release
any new texts precisely because these subsequent documents did not have any official
standing, and that the next step would be the release of the Law as eventually adopted
by the National Assembly, to be followed by the signing of The Articles of Cooperation
by both parties. At the four meetings so far held with the Legislation Commission,
Minister Sok An, Head of the Task Force, has been discussing article by article the
January text, along with the proposed amendments, points raised by members of the
Committee and also comments made by a range of other parties, including NGOs.
As to the charges of delay, like most other activities of the Cambodian Government,
these meetings with the Legislation Commission were suspended during the recent floods
and the parliamentary recess, but will soon resume, and the Prime Minister has on
several occasions stated that is one of the Government's top priorities in legal
It is to be hoped that further such misleading reports are not published, as they
do nothing but sow confusion and obstruct the proper procedures for drafting and
adopting an important and sensitive piece of national legislation that has deep implications
and significance for all Cambodians.
November 21, 2000