Group Says UN Should Block Funds Over Trial

The UN and its member states should “withhold political and financial support” from a trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders if the proceedings do not adhere to international standards of justice, a key international human rights group said.

In a report released late last month, Human Rights Watch criticized a UN plan to form an ad hoc tribunal here that adheres to Cambodian law, because it does not “meet minimum benchmarks to ensure a legitimate and credible process in line with international standards.”

The current UN plan “fails to require the government to cooperate with the court in many key ways—by enforcing the court’s orders, preserving evidence, providing access to witnesses, opening government files and records, providing adequate protective measures for victims and witnesses, and ensuring humane treatment of those in detention,” according to a statement by Sidney Jones, executive director of the Asia Division of HRW.

The statement was released after a UN proposal on forming a tribunal was made public. Since then, the UN presented to the government a more thorough plan that includes a section on the rights of the accused. It also calls for UN-appointed judges.

But still absent from the current UN plan is any discussion of the King’s right to grant pardons after a conviction. Allowing pardons “could rob the whole effort of legitimacy by undermining the decisions of the tribunal,” the HRW statement read.

The group also demanded the government “agree to give its complete cooperation” in arresting those indicted. While the UN spelled this out in its earlier plan, it was not mentioned in the later draft and barely discussed during the weeklong UN-government talks that culminated this week.

HRW blasted the idea of holding a Nuremberg-style court that tries the accused as a group. “A joint trial may prejudice both the rights of defendants and the ability of the prosecution to mount and effective and well supported case,” the statement read.

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