The government should take steps to safeguard the identities of possible Khmer Rouge tribunal witnesses, establish a fund to compensate victims and allocate funds to protect both, a conference on the future trials was told Thursday.
“We want to protect victims and witnesses prior to the trial, during the trial and after,” Adhoc President Thun Saray said at the end of a two-day Khmer Rouge tribunal conference. “These are key aspects of their protection.”
Participants said potential witnesses and victims have expressed fear for their safety ever since the UN and Cambodia agreed that the government will provide security at the tribunal.
Thun Saray said about 10 former Khmer Rouge leaders are expected to be put on trial and many of the potential witnesses would have been close to them.
“The fear is in every mouth,” Licadho President Kek Galabru said, noting that fears escalated after it was announced the tribunal may be held at RCAF headquarters.
David Boyle, a member of the International Federation for Human Rights delegation, said in all other international tribunals, the UN has provided security.
He said that the need to protect the rights and safety of Cambodian victims and witnesses was overlooked because the UN has automatically protected them.
Participants said the key concern is ensuring money is budgeted for the witnesses’ and victims’ security, something they say has not happened yet.
The recommendations will be circulated to NGOs for comment before being sent to the government and UN.
Evelyn Serrano, Asia coordinator for the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, said there is no guarantee any of the recommendations will be approved, especially since the law governing the tribunal law has already been approved.
But, “there are no rules of procedure,” she said. “It will boil down to…will and the determination of the victims to get justice.”