As the National Assembly Monday added Cambodia’s name to the list of nations that have ratified the International Criminal Court, Minister of Cabinet Sok An blamed the UN for slowing down the process that would form an international tribunal in Cambodia for former Khmer Rouge leaders.
Sok An told legislators that he would send a letter soon to UN legal counsel Hans Corell asking about the status of planned negotiations between the UN and the government over the framework governing the UN’s participation in the tribunal. The government sent Khmer, English and French translations of the tribunal law to the UN in September, along with an invitation to Corell to visit Cambodia for the negotiations.
A tribunal of some kind had been considered likely by the end of the year, but delays in the negotiations and the Sept 11 attacks on the US scuttled talk of a trial taking place this year.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said earlier this month that he is prepared to wait another 10 years for the UN to decide whether or not it will participate in a tribunal. He also threatened again to go ahead with a tribunal without the UN.
Sok An said Monday that the UN is demanding to use English as the official language of the proceedings, while the government wants Khmer.
In June, Prime Minister Hun Sen pledged that Cambodia would ratify the Rome Statute setting up the ICC. All 89 lawmakers voted Monday to ratify the ICC, which Cambodian officials signed in October 2000. Cambodia is the 46th nation to ratify the document. Thailand and the Philippines are the only other Southeast Asian nations to ratify it.
Ratification by 60 countries is needed to establish the court, which would try suspects of genocide, war crimes and crime against humanity—the same crimes for which former Khmer Rouge leaders will tried if an international tribunal is established.
The US, Japan and the United Kingdom are among the major powers that have not ratified the court.