After a special session of the legislative committee Monday, the National Assembly put the Khmer Rouge law back on its agenda. Officials promised to take up the draft legislation early next week.
Members of the assembly’s Legislation Commission tentatively agreed to put the draft law before the full assembly July 11. The draft law to try those “most responsible” for the Khmer Rouge genocide that killed at least 1 million Cambodians between 1975-1979 has been stalled since February, when the Constitutional Council struck the legislation down on a technicality.
Minister of Cabinet Sok An and the committee members focused on Article 3 of the draft law, which was incorrect because it referred to the death penalty—an illegal punishment under Cambodia’s Constitution.
The officials did not discuss the possible trial of former Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary, who King Norodom Sihanouk pardoned after he led a mass defection of Khmer Rouge regulars in 1996. Prime Minister Hun Sen has said that the amnesty should apply to the new tribunal. That has brought criticism from human rights officials, including the UN’s top human rights monitor for Cambodia, Peter Leuprecht.
The UN and the government must sign a memorandum of understanding before the UN will participate in the tribunal.
After the meeting Monday, Sok An said he was not concerned with Leuprecht’s recent comments saying the credibility of the tribunal would be undermined if Ieng Sary was not tried. The problems between the government and UN will work themselves out, one at a time, he said.
“We will negotiate with [the UN] after the National Assembly approves the law and the law gets promulgated,” Sok An said.
Sok An said that the start date of the tribunal’s work would depend on how long negotiations between the government and the UN take. “I think there should be no problems in the negotiations because on most of the principles, we already agree,” he said.