Legislation setting up a trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders will not be reconsidered by lawmakers until at least mid-April, National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Wednesday, adding that he would not call an extraordinary session of Parliament.
“Assembly members are on vacation…so we will wait until the Assembly members return. I think there is no need for an extraordinary meeting,” the prince said.
Though approved once, flaws in the law have made it necessary to rewrite one article and send it back to Parliament for a second round of debate. Throughout the process, the government and some donors downplayed the significance of the draft’s return to Parliament, saying a quick fix could be made, and the legislation given to the King.
The prince’s comments Wednesday did not surprise critics who have accused the government of trying to delay the trial.
“We have adopted this way of proceeding for quite some time,” said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia. “This is not new.”
Still, Youk Chhang said, “To delay is to deny justice. For once you would think [lawmakers] could do this for their constituents.”
While the delay could have emotional fallout, it isn’t likely to affect the expected legal proceedings, US Ambassador Kent Wiedemann said.
“Any delay is regrettable,” he said.
US officials helped broker the trial agreement between the UN and Cambodia last year and have been close to the negotiations.
“But the assurances from the [Cambodian] government continue to be firm, and I wouldn’t see this as a problem with credibility,”
The Assembly will resume session April 18. (Additional reporting by Thet Sambath)
Assembly Permanent Committee member Monh Saphan said Wednesday the government has given lawmakers no indication when they might receive the draft law for debate. The Assembly will resume session April 18.
(Additional reporting by Thet Sambath)