Experts Say Int’l Court Can’t Help Detainees

While there may be a case against judges and prosecutors for illegally detaining criminal sus­pects for long periods of time, the International Criminal Court is not the right forum to fix Cam­bo­dia’s judicial system, local legal experts said Sunday.

“I doubt whether it is within the ICC’s jurisdiction,” said Lao Mong Hay of the Center for Social Development. “To be able to ac­cess to ICC, complainants should have exhausted the mechanisms or court procedures available in the country.”

Five local NGOs announced plans Friday to lodge a complaint against Phnom Penh Muni­ci­pal Judges Tan Senarong, Thorng Ol and Un Bunna and Chief Pro­se­cutor Ouk Savuth for the detention of 114 criminal suspects beyond the legal six-month pre-trial detention period.

The little-known NGOs call themselves The Com­mittee Strict Laws En­force­ment for Human Rights in Cam­bodia and are led by Heang Rithy, of The Cam­bodian Na­tional Re­search Or­ganization.

The ICC, based in The Hague, pre­­sides over cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

The NGOs have said the illegally long detentions constitute a crime against humanity. They say they have ex­haus­ted all avenues for a re­solution within Cambodia, a re­quirement for any case to be ac­cepted by the ICC.

But Lao Mong Hay said they should launch a case against the judges at the municipal court and take it through to the Supreme Court and Supreme Council of Ma­gis­­tracy. He added that a complaint should also be lodged with the UN High Commissioners Of­fice for Hu­man Rights.

Bun Honn, secretary-general of the Lawyer Training Clinic, said the lack of space for proceedings and shortage of legal professionals is to blame for the prolonged de­tentions. He said an appeal should be made to King Norodom Siha­mo­ni, head of the Supreme Coun­cil of Magistracy.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, also said the NGOs should file a complaint to the UN.



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