The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia is the only mixed court in history established with majority national control. And, despite renewed recommendations by the UN to boost international oversight, that is the way it should stay, Kranh Tony, the court’s Chief of Court Management, said in a Thursday interview.
“We want to create something new,” he said, adding: “The other courts have failed.”
He pointed to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which has cost about $150 million a year since its inception in The Hague in 1991. “It’s too much money. It’s far from the people,” he said, adding that the Cambodian court model promises faster, more affordable, and more immediate justice.
Kranh, who was among the first people appointed by the government to the ECCC, took issue with the recent suggestion that the court shift responsibility for translation and witness protection from his office to the international deputy director of administration.
“For what? Just for control,” he said, adding: “Transfer the problem from point a to point b and then the problem will be resolved? Why don’t they help me? It’s not rational.”
Change too much, he added, and the national nature of the court gets lost, along with its potential legacy.
“In Asian countries, there is witness protection in Thailand and Singapore only,” he said. “At the end, we want a witness protection department in the national police to deal with transnational crime. That’s why we have to be a Cambodian court.”
“For the first time, you can have justice by Cambodian people,” he added.
To skeptics who doubt that Cambodia can deliver justice to its people, he said, “Let’s look at the facts. If there were no political will, Nuon Chea would be free.”
(Additional reporting by Yun Samean)