Credibility of Cambodia genocide tribunal questioned

Credibility of Cambodia genocide tribunal questioned

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[JURIST] Dr. Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association (IBA) [official website] on Sunday published the second in a series of reports examining the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website]. The report [text, PDF], “The ECCC- A Failure of Credibility,” asserts that the legitimacy of the ECCC is undermined, and, in order to promote international justice, a criticism of the court’s failure to meet international standards must be undertaken. Ellis spent a week at the court observing the trials and speaking with individuals. Ellis asserts that both judicial misconduct and interference from the executive are undermining the court’s ability to prosecute Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] leaders and bring justice to victims and affecting the accuracy of the historical record. Ellis wrote:

The Cambodian judiciary is not de facto independent from the government. Cambodia has been criticised by the United Nations (UN) for failing to “develop neutral State institutions, checks on executive power, and the means to enforce rights guaranteed in the law and the Constitution”. This has resulted in a judiciary that continues to be ‘subjected to executive interference and open to corruption’.

Thus far, the only former Khmer Rouge leader to be convicted [JURIST report] by the ECCC is Kaing Guek Eav [ECCC materials], also known as “Duch,” for crimes against humanity and violation of the 1949 Geneva Conventions [materials].

Last week, the Open Society Justice Initiative [advocacy website] reported that the continuing dispute between Cambodia and the UN over the appointment of Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet to the ECCC threatens the legitimacy of the court [JURIST report]. Last month, the UN [official website] refused to replace [JURIST report] Kasper-Ansermet, the judge tasked with investigating two possible suspects believed to be involved in the deaths of around 1.7 million people, after Cambodia attempted to block him. In October, accused Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen [BBC profile] for interfering with the UN-backed war crimes tribunal. In October 2010, Hun Sen informed the UN that Cambodia will not allow further prosecutions of low-ranking Khmer Rouge officers [JURIST report].