ICC case is no laughing matter

A resident of Borei Keila sits among the debris from levelled buildings as a police officer dismantles her makeshift shelter in 2012
A resident of Borei Keila sits among the debris from levelled buildings as a police officer dismantles her makeshift shelter in 2012. Heng Chivoan

ICC case is no laughing matter

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to your article entitled "ICC case may have a chance", published March 20, 2014. This article relates to my investigation into crimes committed by state security forces since 2002 and the related filing of a “Communication” before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In this article Mr Phay Siphan, Council of Ministers Spokesman, expressed the view that the investigation was a political ploy by the CNRP, and stated: “They [the CNRP] try to manipulate the political situation.”

His comments expose a misunderstanding as to the role of the CNRP in this investigation and I would like to offer some clarification.

Whilst it was the CNRP who engaged Global Diligence LLP to investigate crimes committed by state security forces, our mandate is to investigate on behalf of victims, not on behalf of the CNRP.

Our Communication will be filed on behalf of victims, not on behalf of any political party.

The CNRP has made no attempt to influence our legal analysis nor has it interfered with our decision to engage the ICC.

The CNRP has acted as a facilitator for this process, not as a client dictating instructions.

The fact that the CNRP seeks to facilitate justice for Cambodian victims through an international judicial process should come as no surprise.

As democratically elected representatives of the Cambodian people, CNRP parliamentarians not only have the right, but also the obligation to help victims find justice where serious international crimes have been committed.

This assistance becomes particularly important when the vast majority of victims lack the resources to engage lawyers themselves and where the Cambodian courts have consistently failed to protect citizens from the arbitrary use of state power.

Ensuring that such victims have access to credible legal remedies – whether national or international – is a legitimate role for political representatives in any democratic country.

Our ICC Communication will consider the forcible transfer of hundreds of thousands of desperately poor Cambodians; the murder, rape, torture and false imprisonment of those who try to protect their homes in the face of overwhelming military power; the persecution of indigenous people and the destruction of their way of life; and the multiple crimes committed against all those human rights defenders who try to resist the illegal and destructive land policies.

The right to property – a home – is crucial to an individual’s security as well as societal stability. When property rights are denied en masse, individual wellbeing and societal order are replaced by poverty and conflict, sometimes resulting in war.

This is precisely why the State Parties to the ICC were so keen to protect fundamental property rights by making forcible transfer a distinct crime against humanity when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack.

Human rights groups estimate that up to 700,000 people have been affected by the land grabbing in Cambodia since 2001.

If true, this amounts to around 4.7 per cent of the entire population.

To give a sense of scale, if this magnitude (as a percentage of population) had been affected in the USA, it would be the equivalent to the total population of New England, namely, the states of Maine, Massachusetts New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

In the United Kingdom, it would be the equivalent to the total population of Wales.

Last week Mr Phay Siphan referred to our investigation as “a joke”.

He may find that the ICC prosecutor does not share his sense of humour.

Richard J Rogers
Global Diligence LLP.

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