A report by the German parliament’s human rights commission that visited the Khmer Rouge tribunal last year, and which claimed that the tribunal’s UN coordinator asserted that the Cambodian government was interfering in the court’s work, was removed from the website of the parliament Thursday.
Two paragraphs in the report that dealt with the topics of alleged corruption and political interference at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia were purportedly paraphrased from a conversation between the German parliamentarians and the tribunal’s deputy head of administration Knut Rosandhaug.
The report also made serious allegations against the tribunal’s Cambodian head of administration, Sean Visoth.
Guido Heinen, spokesman for the Bundestag, said Thursday that the report on the Khmer Rouge tribunal was removed because it was only a draft that the parliament’s Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Help had not yet reviewed.
The report, which was available on the Bundestag’s website since November, will be reviewed by the committee next week and then a final version released, he said.
“The next meeting of the committee will be in the next few days. And now is the time to exchange the draft with the final version. It’s the process for us,” Heinen said.
He added that no one in Cambodia had contacted the committee or asked for the report to be removed.
“The parliament decides how to publish and when to publish. It’s a decision of the parliament,” he said.
Officials at the tribunal remained tight-lipped Thursday about the incendiary allegations in the German parliamentarians’ report, which states that, according to Rosandhaug, “the United Nations has conducted an investigation of the head of the administration of the ECCC, Sean Visoth.”
The report also contained a more serious allegation against the administration chief.
Helen Jarvis, the tribunal’s chief of public affairs, contested that statement Thursday, saying the UN only had authority over the international side of the tribunal and the Cambodian government over the national side.
“I don’t believe that the UN has turned out an investigation. I don’t believe that the UN has the power of investigation,” she said. “As far as I know, that’s been acknowledged before,” she added.
In September, the government dismissed the findings of a review by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services in New York into the jobs-for-kickbacks allegations at the tribunal. The government argued that the UN had neither jurisdiction nor evidence to pursue an investigation into the allegations.
Jarvis declined to comment further about the content of the report, saying only that she was aware of the meeting between Rosandhaug and the German lawmakers but had not attended.
Rosandhaug also declined to comment, when contacted directly via e-mail Thursday, pointing instead to a statement made by the court’s public affairs section Wednesday, which said he had been “neither involved nor consulted on [the German report’s] content and publication” and could not comment on documents issued outside the UN and ECCC.
Contacted on Thursday and asked to comment on claims in the report that he was a focus of the UN’s kickbacks investigation, Sean Visoth declined to comment. Sean Visoth has been absent from the court for three months, officially for health reasons.
The ECCC’s national Co-Prosecutor Chea Leang, who has read the report in its original German, said the information it contained was outdated.
“The statement was an old statement; it doesn’t reflect the current situation,” she said Thursday, pointing to a joint statement made Monday, announcing new, bilateral processes between Cambodia and the UN for handling future allegations of misconduct at the court.
When asked to comment on the allegations in the report against the head of administration, she added, “Sean Visoth was appointed by royal decree; so far, there is no decree to terminate him.”
(Additional reporting by Yun Samean)