IMPORTANT issues will be on the agenda when the UN Undersecretary-General for Legal
Affairs, Hans Corell, arrives in Phnom Penh on July 5 to discuss the tribunal to
prosecute former Khmer Rouge leaders.
The United Nations and the Cambodian government are still negotiating to reach an
agreement to set up a mixed Cambodian-international KR tribunal. And although Corell
will focus on discussing "technical issues" during his visit, some of these
issues are still substantial enough to jeopardize a final deal.
Last month, the two sides agreed on the much-discussed co-prosecution, where a Cambodian
and a foreign prosecutor both have to concur on all indictments. In case of disagreement,
a panel of five judges will rule on the dispute.
However, it is still not clear what will happen if the prosecutors disagree on other
issues, such as who will be investigated even before indictments can be brought.
Or if the prosecutors also have to agree on what evidence will be submitted in court.
Also, Corell will be dealing with the question of establishing a satisfactory witness
protection program. A minor issue is the number of working languages at the tribunal.
Eventually, the UN and the Cambodian government will find it hard to sign an agreement
before the National Assembly has passed the tribunal draft law. The Assembly, which
has the ability to change major elements in the law, was scheduled to begin discussion
on the draft law in May, but the debate has been postponed several times.
Recently, the National Assembly chairman, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, expressed concern
that the government had not discussed the draft law with parliament yet and that
this might cause a serious delay in setting up the tribunal.