KR Tribunal Spokesman Denies Confirming List

Khmer Rouge tribunal officials have denied confirming a list of tri­bu­nal judges and prosecutors published on the Voice of America Web site on Thursday, claiming that a spokesman had been misquoted and that new rules would ap­­ply to access tribunal information.

Tribunal public affairs officer Pe­ter Foster in an e-mail Sunday distanced himself from a newspaper that published an article on Friday in which he was quoted confirming that the VOA list of names was ac­curate.

“VOA tells us that it is an accurate list. We have nothing official and cannot confirm the accuracy of the VOA list,” Foster wrote in the e-mail clarifying his reported comments.

Foster added in the e-mail that the Public Affairs Office of the Ex­tra­ordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia—the tribunal’s official name—has also implemented a new policy of accepting only written questions from Cambodia Daily re­porters.

On Friday, the Cambodia Daily re­ported that Reach Sambath, the tribunal’s Cambodian public affairs officer, could neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of the VOA list.                          The article did not quote Foster.

Foster referred requests for clarification about the new media policy to the ECCC’s Chief of Public Affairs Helen Jarvis.

Jarvis, an Australian who is now a Cam­bodian citizen and long-time ad­­vi­­ser to CPP Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Sok An, said on Sunday that she would respond to questions about the new policy today.

Contacted earlier Sunday, Jarvis said that Foster was misquoted and that her office was not sending out conflicting messages to different newspapers.

“Obviously, we are three indivi­du­als. We are not speaking off a script,” she said, adding that she would now require all questions to be submitted to her personal e-mail ac­count.

Legal analyst Lao Mong Hay ques­tioned Jarvis’ impartiality Sun­day afternoon, saying her strong links to the ruling CPP boded ill for access to information from the tribunal.

“She supports the government position,” he said. “She is not helping us to live in freedom. It is very un­fortunate.”

Jarvis said late Sunday that she would not respond to Lao Mong Hay’s comments.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the legal NGO Cambodian De­fenders Project, said that transparency was important for the tribunal proceedings.

“It is better for the tribunal to be open and give easy access,” he said. “All reporters must be allowed in and everybody should be treated equally.”

League of Cambodian Journal­ists President Chum Kanal said that many reporters in Cambodia could suffer if the Public Af­fairs Office policy of written requests for in­formation extended to others.

“Some Cambodian reporters don’t have e-mail,” he said.

It is the second ruckus between the tribunal’s Public Affairs Office and members of the media.

In February, local and international journalists said that they were being prevented from joining several hundred villagers on a field trip to the tribunal courthouse, one of the first public events organized by tribunal officials.

The two-day trip involved torture victims, Buddhist nuns, students and researchers—any of whom may be called to testify—visiting Tuol Sleng prison, the Choeung Ek killing fields and the courthouse. The reported ban led to complaints by Youk Chhang, executive di­rector of the Docu­mentation Cen­ter of Cambodia. Pub­lic Affairs officials later said there had been a miscommunication and that the press was not barred.

 

 

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