Handling of KR-Era Documents Worries DC-Cam

The Documentation Center of Cambodia says it has given the Khmer Rouge tribunal copies of hundreds of thousands of pages of confessions, internal memoranda and other records of the Demo­cratic Kampuchea regime.

But after more than two years of discussions, the organization says it still has yet to receive assurances that the fragile, irreplaceable 30-year-old originals will be properly handled should the court ever seek to take custody of them.

Anne Heindel, a DC-Cam legal adviser, said Monday the organization is most concerned about how the court’s different offices will pass the documents between them without damaging or misplacing them.

“It seems inevitable that at some point somebody will request an orig­inal and we’d like to be sure the best possible procedures are in place,” she said.

According to Peter Foster, the court’s UN spokesman, the court’s Office of the Co-Investigating Ju­dg­es has promised any original documents held at the court will be kept in a secure, specially adapted room and that the court will avoid problems such as duplicate requests.

New internal rules adopted in January call for judges to decide what should be done with original documents at the end of trials or judicial investigations and allow for the public to submit friend-of-the-court briefs on the matter.

“Over the past year the court has been enjoying a good working relationship with DC-Cam in obtaining document copies and we remain confident that this will continue,” Foster wrote in an e-mail Friday.

However, Heindel said this did not address crucial matters.

In a November letter to the court and to donors, DC-Cam Director Youk Chhang expressed concern that the court’s different offices would follow their own individual procedures, “which may not…offer the type of security and storage we believe is necessary.”

Heindel said this concern had yet to be resolved.

“What are the procedures for checking in and out documents? How do you transfer documents between [the Co-Investigating Judges] and the Trial Chamber? We just want to be know they’re in place,” she said.

Tony Kranh, chief of Court Man­agement, the office responsible for the storage and security of all judicial documents, said he was too busy to talk to a reporter Monday.

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