From day one, the Khmer Rouge began evacuating the capital of its residents. Urbanites were forced to abandon nearly everything, taking only what they could carry by hand.
Some people have said that the Government would be better to spend money on development
rather than spending it on a Khmer Rouge tribunal. Why do they say this?
Some people may agree with this statement when they know that this tribunal will
spend millions of US dollars per year. It may be because they do not know clearly
about the benefits or advantages from this tribunal or they do not trust any court
system at all.
Why does the civil society and myself support the existence of this tribunal? I support
this tribunal because I believe if this tribunal is well setup and organized, Cambodia
will achieve the following points:
1.To find justice for millions of victim of the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975-1979
(access to justice).
2.To find the truth about why a head of state (Pol Pot) of a country killed his own
people (finding the truth). It will be used as a lesson for other leaders in the
world not to copy or repeat the same mistake.
3. To relieve Khmer Rouge trauma.
4. To act as a warning to other leaders in the world and future leaders of Cambodia
that they cannot escape from justice and responsibility during their rule (deterrence).
5. To use as a model for judicial reform in Cambodia.
6. To abolish the culture of impunity.
At present, people do not trust Cambodia's court system at all. For example, the
Kbal Spean cases [where police shot five villagers dead in a land dispute in Pursat]:
if the people trusted the Cambodian court and believed that the decision of the court
was fair and respectful, the people would not object to the execution of the verdict
and no tragedy would have happened.
So, Cambodia should reform and strengthen the judiciary even if this country spends
a large amount of money. The Extraordinary Chamber for Khmer Rouge Leaders can help
to reform the Cambodian judiciary if this chamber is well setup. The Cambodian civil
society recommended to the Government and UN to allow this tribunal to have special
rules so that it will able to perform well and will be used as a model for Cambodia's
All judges, including both Cambodian and foreign judges, must sit and define clear
rules for the tribunal to be sure that the performance of the court meets international
standards. They cannot use the current criminal procedural code for this tribunal
because Cambodia knows that our court system is not good and must be reformed. In
fact, the Cambodian Government is drafting a new criminal procedure code. If the
court rules of criminal procedure are good enough, the government need not reform
and the prime minister not need yell at the Phnom Penh court.
In our current system, prosecutors are inactive. They do not provide evidence because
trial judges are active in questioning the witnesses and the accused. Therefore,
I recommend that the UN and the Cambodian government establish a special course for
prosecutors focusing in particular on trial techniques and prosecution strategies.
However, the dictators may be afraid of an independent court system and may be afraid
to hear that leaders can be brought to justice for their past conducts or their past
mistakes. But I believe that all of our current leaders had bad experiences and suffered
under the Khmer Rouge regime, and are not all happy with corrupt courts. For instance,
recently the prime minister was angry with Phnom Penh Court judges and prosecutors.
Therefore, I believe that they will support the Extraordinary Chamber for Khmer Rouge
leaders and make this tribunal effective.