New Adhoc Network To Complement KR Tribunal

Local rights group Adhoc an­nounced Wednesday the creation of a nationwide network providing information, psychological and legal counseling as well as victim and witness protection to complement the work of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

The program will also involve training Adhoc staff and government officials to recognize crimes punishable by the International Criminal Court, and lobbying the government to back out of a recent agreement with the US not to surrender Ameri­cans to The Hague tribunal.

“The Khmer Rouge tribunal and the ICC have close links because the Khmer Rouge tribunal is for crimes committed in the past, but the ICC is for crimes committed in the future,” Adhoc president Thun Saray said at a seminar in Phnom Penh.

The definition of crimes against humanity to be used at the Extra­ordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia comes from the 1998 Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty to which Cambodia is a party.

In 2005, Cambodia ratified a 2003 bilateral treaty with the US not to surrender Americans to the ICC. The US has strongly op­posed the ICC, saying it fears po­liti­cized prosecutions of its nationals, and has secured over 100 such bilateral ag­ree­ments with other countries.

Under the Adhoc program, for which the European Commission is providing nearly $1.3 million, Adhoc staff “will lobby the authorities to denounce and withdraw the bilateral agreement,” on the ICC, according to a booklet produced by Adhoc.

Putting Americans beyond the tribunal’s jurisdiction, Thun Saray said, “affects the standards of the ICC.”

Winston McColgan, the Euro­pean Commission’s charge d’aff­aires in Phnom Penh, said that Eur­ope fully supported the ICC.

Information Minister and gov­ern­ment spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said Wednesday that, while he had not consulted Prime Min­ister Hun Sen on the subject, he felt Cambodia would not annul the treaty with the US.

While Cambodia believes in the ICC, it also believes that US courts can try crimes that would otherwise be sent to the ICC, he said.

US Embassy Jeff Daigle said it was unclear whether Adhoc’s opposition to US policy could affect US funding for the group.

“We support freedom of expression, including the peaceful expression of opinions with which we disagree,” he said.

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