A lawyer hired by the opposition CNRP said Tuesday that he would file a complaint next month with the International Criminal Court (ICC) over crimes against humanity allegedly perpetrated by state security forces.
“We plan to file a Communication [complaint] before the International Criminal Court next month,” Richard Rogers, a British lawyer, said in an email Tuesday.
Mr. Rogers, the former head of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Defense Support Section, also represents Khmer Rouge tribunal suspect Ta An. In January, he was hired by the CNRP shortly after the shooting on Veng Sreng Street that left five garment factory protesters dead and dozens severely injured.
Last week, international experts from the Global Diligence group, a legal advisory group based in the U.K., visited Phnom Penh to gather evidence and discuss possible crimes against humanity with a number of “interested parties.” Mr. Rogers said he could not name these parties for fear they would face retribution.
“We are of the view that, when all the human rights abuses since 2002 are considered cumulatively, there is sufficient evidence to support an allegation of crimes against humanity,” he said in an email.
“The strongest evidence relates to the land-grabbing and forcible evictions, which have led to over half a million people being forcibly transferred from their land or homes,” Mr. Rogers wrote, adding that ethnic minorities appear to have suffered disproportionately from these land grabs.
“The evidence suggests that this forcible transfer was widespread, systematic, and formed part of an organized policy. Additional crimes committed pursuant to this policy—including murder, torture, false imprisonment and persecution—provide further support to our allegation,” he wrote, without elaborating on details.
Whether or not the evidence met the threshold of severity to justify Cambodian security forces be charged with crimes against humanity was up to the ICC, he said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan on Tuesday dismissed the claims—and Mr. Rogers—as a “joke.”
“We are not interested in this at all,” Mr. Siphan said. “They can do whatever they want, but we don’t care. We are not interested.”
“Dragging a government to the ICC is a joke,” he continued. “From our side, we don’t see any crimes against humanity. This is manipulation and a joke. He [Mr. Rogers] did the work of a tourist.”
© 2014, Denise Hruby. All rights reserved.