Thirty new rules have been adopted by the Khmer Rouge tribunal and the Interior Ministry governing when Khmer Rouge detainees wake, what they eat and what actions will be taken in the event of their deaths at the tribunal’s eight-cell government-run detention facility.
Drafted over more than a year, the rules also fix disciplinary procedures for the detainees and guards, the conditions for the use of force, and charge the prosecution with the responsibility of determining the cause of any death in custody, which will also require forensic examinations.
Woken at 6 am on weekdays, tribunal detainees are to be provided with a daily 600-gram ration of rice and twice-weekly portions of pork, beef, chicken, mutton or fish, according to a copy of the rules obtained Dec 19. The detainees are allowed to sleep in an extra 90 minutes at the weekend, the rules state.
National Assembly members, representatives of King Norodom Sihamoni and the ministers of justice and the interior are granted access to the detention facility as designated “official visitors.”
Detainees may not be subject to shackling, solitary confinement or corporal punishment and cannot be made to discipline each other.
They are also forbidden to gamble, consume alcohol, engage in sexual intercourse or be tattooed, according to the rules.
In the absence of effective detention rules, the ECCC’s Pre-Trial Chamber this year twice ordered that contact be allowed among the court’s five detainees, overturning decisions by judicial investigators who had ordered that they be kept separated to prevent collusion among suspects.
The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee in 2007 also called for a higher standard of medical care for detainees, and greater transparency in its delivery, noting that accusations of foul play had lingered following the deaths of former Khmer Rouge military commander Ta Mok and of former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic, both of whom died in custody in 2006.
The ECCC’s defense office said on Dec 19 that, a year and a half after the court took custody of its first detainee, the rules were long overdue. “I think on the whole we’re pleased that they’re being adopted but we will have to pay close attention to how they’re implemented. The rules allow for quite a lot of discretion by the chief of detention,” said Richard Rogers, the acting head of the ECCC’s defense support section.
Heng Hak, general director of the Interior Ministry’s prisons department, said Dec 19 that the tribunal required a higher standard of procedure.
“These rules are very important because they deal with international standards and apply to a special court,” he said, adding that the rules were partly modeled on the existing procedures in Cambodian prisons.
(Additional reporting by Kuch Naren)