The Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia is urging the Khmer Rouge tribunal to appoint a Cambodian deputy director to the Defense Support Section.
Under the rules of the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia, the defense support section is to have an international head and two deputies: one international and one Cambodian.
No Cambodian deputy has yet been hired.
“Now I am making the demand,” Bar President Ky Tech said Thursday.
“It’s the representative of the Bar Association. I have submitted seven candidates. On my side, everything is ready,” Ky Tech said, adding: “Khmer lawyers must have their representative. They are not under anyone, but only under the bar association.”
Rupert Skilbeck, the tribunal’s principal defender, said recruitment for the post is underway. The position has been advertised three times, he said, though the first round of recruitment was moot because the role of the Defense Support Section had not been clarified.
With the adoption of the internal rules last June, the purview of the defense section was trimmed, so that it would provide only administrative and educational support, rather than play a legal advisory role, Skilbeck said.
A revised job description was posted, but the second round of recruitment brought forth too few candidates, he said.
Three candidates were short-listed in early January, as part of the third round of recruitment, Skilbeck said. “We’re waiting for the interview process to commence,” he said, adding that the position could be filled within weeks.
Skilbeck sits on the three-member selection committee, along with two others—whom he declined to name—from the Cambodian side of the court.
The absence of a Cambodian deputy in the Defense Support Section came up at a two-hour meeting between Ky Tech, members of the bar’s ruling council, and the court’s five Cambodian defenders Jan 31, three people present at the meeting said.
It was the first time the bar had convened such a gathering, but it will not be the last, the bar’s Secretary-General Ly Tayseng said.
“We should have regular meetings so we can all play our roles. We want to support our members,” he said.
On the agenda, according to people present, was the tribunal’s relationship with the bar, which has previously been frosty.
Last year, a dispute over fees foreign defenders would have to pay the bar threatened to derail the adoption of a crucial set of procedural rules. Earlier this month, the bar delayed the swearing-in of Nuon Chea’s Dutch defense attorney Victor Koppe because he had signed a controversial legal motion before his membership of the bar was official.
Ky Tech said that each time the bar complains, it gets accused of trying to delay the work of the court, thought it is only implementing its rules.
Say Bory, who is defending Khieu Samphan and once taught Ky Tech at the Royal University of Law and Economics, said he felt his old student was endeavoring to serve the law. “When I listen to Ky Tech at the meeting, I think he wants to implement correctly the law of the bar,” he said.
Say Bory said all the lawyers present at the bar meeting agreed that the rules of the court should be implemented.
“We said we were going to ask Skilbeck why there is not a deputy director, as in the agreement,” he said, adding: “It is good if we have it. Cambodian lawyers like to talk to a Cambodian representative of the bar. There is a facility of language.”