Hun Sen Sticks Up for KR Draft Provisions

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday defended the role of “co-prosecutors” in an upcoming trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders, dismissing UN concerns over the government’s plan.

The UN recently criticized the government’s latest draft law to establish the trial and said the system of co-prosecutors—one foreign and one Cambodian—would lead to a “paralysis” in the trial’s proceedings. But Hun Sen rejected any proposal that the two prosecutors act independently.

“My concern is that a Cam­bodian prosecutor charges Mr A, and the foreign judge does not agree and charges Mr B….They must have agreement,” Hun Sen told a Konrad Adenauer Foun­dation Asian-German Edi­tors Forum.

He also, however, seemed to admit that a failure to agree could allow particular suspects to escape indictment.

“If the two cannot reach agreement [on who to prosecute], they will have to leave it aside….It cannot move forward,” he said, adding that he hopes the “two will agree with each other and make the same charge.”

The UN and human rights groups fear that if too much independence is given to the notoriously corrupt Cambodian courts without checks from foreign jurists, verdicts could be politically motivated.

Despite differences between the two sides, the government has asked the UN to return to Cambodia for talks on the law but has yet to hear a response.

The draft law in early January was passed by the Council of Ministers and now rests with the National Assembly.

While officials there originally said they might convene a special session to debate the law during a break, National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said the law might not be taken up until April, according to the Associated Press.

The trial was first raised Monday when Center for Social Development director Chea Vannath expressed concern that a Battambang-based forum held last week on the Khmer Rouge and national reconciliation was not broadcast throughout the country. Hun Sen assured her she could take up the issue with the Ministry of Information.

“We can’t forget justice, and we can’t forget the national unification, peace and national stability,” Hun Sen said. “They are like our heart and lung—neither of which we can do without.”




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