Although staff from the Open Society Justice Initiative are no longer welcome at the administration office of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the rest of the court’s facilities remain open to them, court officials said Sunday.
“The court is a public place,” said Helen Jarvis, ECCC public affairs chief, in an interview.
Cabinet Minister Sok An announced Friday that the tribunal’s administration office had informed him that it would no longer allow entry to OSJI, after the legal NGO called for a speedy and thorough investigation into allegations of corruption and kickbacks at the ECCC. Several ECCC officials have denied the allegations.
ECCC public affairs officer Peter Foster said Sunday that he would meet Tuesday with Heather Ryan, OSJI’s trial monitor in Phnom Penh, as previously planned.
“You can’t ban OSJI or anyone else from the building,” he said. “We still consider them valuable partners.”
Jarvis emphasized that restricting the NGO entry had come from the administration office and not from Sok An. The tribunal’s administration director Sean Visoth, she said, “does not wish to cooperate with them [OSJI] anymore due to the bad faith and bias on their part.”
On Sunday Sean Visoth declined to speak to a reporter and Ryan, who was travelling, could not be reached for comment.
Several Cambodian staffers at the court—including Co-Prosecutor Chea Leang and Trial Chamber Judge Nil Non—said Sunday they were not aware of the restriction placed on OSJI. Several added that, in general, they advocate open lines of communication. Nil Non said that in his experience “a judge needs all sides of information.”