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International lawyers group cancels Cambodia genocide trial training

[JURIST] The International Bar Association (IBA) [official website], the leading global organization of legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies, announced [press release] Friday that it has canceled a training program for Cambodian lawyers representing defendants in the genocide trial of Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] leaders. The program had faced opposition from the Cambodian Bar Association, which saw the program as infringing on the Cambodian Bar's sovereignty and prohibited Cambodian lawyers from taking part. The IBA alleged that the Cambodian move was "part of a wider scheme of opposition designed to obstruct the operation of the [genocide tribunal]"; IBA head Mark Ellis commented:

The Bar’s actions represent a disturbing development in the functioning of international justice, placing obstacles in the path of bringing those accused of international crimes to trial. The IBA’s programme was intended to improve the quality of legal services and the administration of justice in Cambodia, and help educate and inform the Cambodian public about international justice. It is unacceptable that the Cambodian Bar, which should share these objectives, is seeking to frustrate them in this way.
Ky Tech, the president of the Cambodian Bar, dismissed the IBA's accusations but said that the cancellation was "appropriate." On Friday, the Cambodian Bar Association threatened to block foreign lawyers [AFP report] from defending genocide trial suspects under the terms of draft internal tribunal regulations [PDF] released earlier this month.

The Extraordinary Chambers of Cambodia (EC) [official website] is currently conducting investigations in preparation for genocide trials expected to commence in 2007 [JURIST report]. The 1975-79 Cambodian genocide led to the deaths of at least 1.5 million Cambodians, and to date, no top Khmer Rouge officials have faced trial in connection with the episode. AP has more.

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