The U.N.’s silence over government interference in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s cases 003 and 004 illustrates that the international body is unwilling to uphold principles of judicial independence, a group that monitors the court said in a report released Thursday.
The latest court summary from the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) criticizes the U.N.’s lack of action in holding the government to account for its interference in cases 003 and 004.
Thus far, the regime’s navy chief, Meas Muth, has been charged in Case 003, while Im Chaem, a former district chief, and Ta An, a deputy secretary in the Central Zone, have been charged in Case 004. However, Cambodian judicial police have refused to carry out arrest warrants issued for two of the suspects.
“To date there has been no public information as to the conclusion of the UN’s announced review of the judicial police’s failure to execute the warrant. Nor has there been any indication that the UN is taking action to remedy what appears to be a blatant violation of the Agreement [on the establishment of the tribunal] by the government of Cambodia,” the report says.
By ignoring government interference in the controversial cases —which Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly claimed could throw Cambodia back into civil war—the U.N. is threatening its own reputation and harming the integrity of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the OSJI argues.
“As the Justice Initiative has argued consistently, by ignoring government interference in the progress of Case 003 and 004, the UN and the court’s international officials are damaging the ECCC as an institution,” it says.
The OSJI outlines five ways in which the U.N. is damaging the court by keeping silent about the flouted warrants, including that it appears to “ratify the Cambodian government’s political obstruction,” that it “suggests that it is not willing and able to uphold principles of judicial independence” and that it deepens skepticism among Cambodians about the prospect of judicial reform.
Representatives of the U.N. could not be reached for comment.