HRW: Cambodia must act on criminal charges against Khmer Rouge leaders News
HRW: Cambodia must act on criminal charges against Khmer Rouge leaders

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called Monday on the Cambodian government to act on criminal charges [press release] brought against former Khmer Rouge leaders. Earlier this month an international judge for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website, in Cambodian] charged two new suspects [JURIST report] with homicide and crimes against humanity, including enslavement, extermination and other inhumane acts. However, due to a national policy of non-cooperation, the Cambodian co-investigating judge refused to forward the charges to the police, who have also refused to act independently on the charges. HRW denounced the inaction and called on the UN and other international donors to withdraw their support from the court in order to avoid validating a blockage of justice. Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, stated

The Cambodian government’s refusal to cooperate in bringing Khmer Rouge leaders before the UN-backed tribunal would be the last straw after years of obstruction, delay, and corruption. If the government fails to act quickly on the judge’s charges, then it’s time the UN end its participation and for donors to stop funding the tribunal. Further support would just make a mockery of justice for millions of victims and their families.

HRW expressed alarm at the Cambodian government’s express obstruction of the tribunal, noting that while the antagonistic actions have often drawn the ire of the UN and its donors, no action has been taken. The report stated that overt political blockage of charges brought by an independent, UN-selected judge necessitates the withdrawal of UN support.

The Cambodian government has faced much criticism for failing to cooperate with the ECCC. The government has been accused of impeding justice [JURIST op-ed] not only by delaying and halting criminal trials, but also suppressing national awareness of the atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge regime [BBC backgrounder]. In late 2014 the Cambodian government was called to task by the UN for manipulating [JURIST report] their judicial system to obtain outcomes most favorable to the current administration. In November the ECCC was forced to postpone the trial of Cambodian leaders accused of committing genocide because lawyers refused to participate in trial proceedings, only to restart [JURIST reports] in early January.