NGOs Call for Greater Openness at KR Tribunal

Six organizations monitoring the Khmer Rouge tribunal called Mon­day for greater openness and broader access to information at the court, saying the public should be kept abreast of the progress of the court’s continuing confidential investigations.

The recommendation was one of four, which the groups, including the Cambodian Defenders Project, Adhoc, the Khmer Institute for Democracy and the Cambodian Justice Initiative, which is part of the Open Society Justice Initiative, said could help improve the court’s chances of success.

“The fact that the charged persons have remained in custody during the investigative process highlights the need for the Court to provide public information about the process,” the statement said.

“If the ECCC is to set a positive example for the Cambodian justice system, the Court needs to immediately amplify transparency and reinforce engagement and dialogue with NGOs,” it added.

Other recommendations included greater oversight of the court’s UN side by the UN Office of Legal Affairs, unified leadership by both the Cambodian and UN sides of the court’s administration and a larger role for donors in managing the court funding.

Helen Jarvis, the tribunal’s chief of public affairs, said Monday the court had in the past two weeks had two televised hearings, released de­cisions by two of the court’s chambers and issued a joint statement by the co-prosecutors.

“It’s absolutely staggering that people are talking about a lack of transparency,” Jarvis said, adding that she believed Cambodian ad­min­istrators provided “consistent leadership from the beginning.”

Cambodian Justice Initiative Co­ordinator Long Panhavuth said the drawn-out process of investigations by the tribunal left the public frustrated and guessing as to what is really going on at the court, in particular when the remaining trials will start.

“How many witnesses did the prosecutors interview this month? How many field trips did the investigators make this month?” Long Pan­havuth asked. “The public would like to know,” he added.

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