NGO Rule Proposals Left Out of ECCC Plenary

The Khmer Rouge tribunal last week made 27 amendments to its internal procedures but did not consider any proposals from non-governmental organizations, including one that sought to clarify wheth­er the court should publish a forthcoming decision to resolve a disagreement between prosecutors on whether to open new investigations, officials said.

At the request of the tribunal, sev­eral NGOs in December sub­mit­ted detailed proposals seeking changes to the court’s internal rules that they said would allow for great­er openness, such as allowing the public to attend the first court ap­pearances of those who are arrested, and publishing decisions on disagreements between prosecutors and judicial investigators.

Several participants at last week’s plenary session of judges said such proposals had not been discussed.

Supreme Court Chamber Judge Mo­too Noguchi, a member of the nine-judge rules and procedure com­mittee, which considers the pro­posals before submitting them to the plenary, said Tuesday that his committee had simply run out of time at a weeklong meeting in Jan­uary before it could consider the NGO proposals.

Noguchi said he had been un­aware that the NGOs had been act­ive­ly invited to make proposals, and that current court procedures do not explicitly grant people outside the court the right to propose amend­ments to the rules.

“If the court officially invited suggestions and they were made, then we would have a moral responsibility to consider them,” he said, add­ing that some of his own proposals had not been considered for lack of time.

In a joint proposal, five NGOs, including the Center for Social De­velopment, Adhoc and the Cam­bodian Justice Initiative, proposed re­solving an apparent conflict be­tween the court’s 2003 UN treaty and the internal rules.

The treaty calls for the court to pub­lish Pre-Trial Chamber decisions resolving disagreements be­tween prosecutors and judicial in­vestigators, but the internal rules now say such decisions will be kept secret. The chamber is expected soon to deliver a decision on wheth­er to open new investigations of Khmer Rouge regime suspects.                        David Scheffer, former US Am­bassador for war crimes issues and a key negotiator in founding the tribunal, said Tuesday that it was unclear whether the framers of the court had considered whether to publicize such decisions.

“It was not necessarily as­sumed that there would be written views at all on a matter of such sensitivity between the co-prosecutors,” he wrote in an e-mail, adding that he thought that the 2003 treaty, which calls for publication, should nevertheless be “controlling.”

“The judges may be of the view that a minimalist publication of the ruling within the decision…is all that is required,” he said.

 

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