After a one-week delay because of a power outage, the Constitutional Council is scheduled to meet today to review the draft law to try former Khmer Rouge leaders.
Only three of the nine council members will meet today, according to member Prak Sok. The full council will consider the legislation next Friday and the review should be completed before Feb 17, he said.
After the council is finished with the law, it will be passed to King Norodom Sihanouk for consideration. The UN and the government will then hammer out more tribunal details before signing a memorandum of understanding that will make the trial agreement official.
In addition to the memorandum, the UN and the government will also discuss concerns raised in a Jan 9 letter by Hans Corell, the UN’s top legal expert.
The biggest UN concern is that the draft law does not make it absolutely clear that any Khmer Rouge leader could be prosecuted, even if he has been given amnesty.
Former Khmer Rouge deputy premier Ieng Sary is the only cadre leader that enjoys amnesty, granted for a 1979 conviction on charges of genocide.
The UN asked that the following sentence be added: “An amnesty granted to any person falling within the jurisdiction of the Chambers shall not be a bar to prosecution.”
In addition, the UN expressed concern that the draft law did not make it clear that suspects have a right to choose their own lawyers. An adviser to Sok An, head of the government’s tribunal task force, said Wednesday that concern will be addressed and clarified.
Corell disputed Article 31 of the draft law, which states that both the Cambodian director and the foreign deputy director of the tribunal’s office of administration would be appointed by the Cambodian government. Corell said the foreign deputy director should be appointed by the UN.
The world body also asked that Russian be eliminated as one of the official languages of the tribunal, and that translations be limited to Khmer, English and French.
The Sok An adviser said the government would likely not agree with the UN on that point.
“Everything will depend on the future negotiations between the UN and the government,” the adviser said.
(Additional reporting by Gina Chon)