The proposed mandate that the UN was scheduled to debate in committee Wednesday will do nothing to bring justice for the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime—and nothing short of starting from scratch will redeem the effort, an international human rights group has said.
In a news release issued from their New York headquarters, Amnesty International criticized the draft mandate, which is currently tabled in the UN’s Third Committee.
“Amnesty International believes that the draft resolution is compromised, as it requires the Secretary-General of the United Nations to resume negotiations on the basis of a legal text which, in Amnesty International’s opinion, was fatally flawed. If this resolution is passed, it would fail to provide the end to impunity that the Cambodian people deserve,” the release states. France and Japan co-sponsored the proposal after the Australians backed off following months of work. Many have read the draft as giving jurisdiction to Cambodia, a chorus to which the rights organization added its voice.
“The organization believes that participating in trial procedures which are not fair would serve not only to undermine human rights law and standards, but would also be a betrayal of the Cambodian people and their right to know the truth and secure justice,” the release states. For Amnesty International, the mixed-tribunal formula is a mistake and the UN needs to start over, with “new negotiations starting afresh with the Cambodian authorities.”
The UN’s top human rights monitor for Cambodia, Peter Leuprecht, on Tuesday hailed the draft resolution and called it a “last chance” to bring the UN back into the long overdue tribunal. Leuprecht has long considered the mixed tribunal a second-best option, but the only real route to justice to the more than
1 million who died during the Khmer Rouge regime.
The UN broke off talks with Cambodia in February, about six months after the country passed laws finally agreeing to a mixed tribunal. Since then, an informal committee of 26 “interested states” has been scrambling to get the world body back to the negotiating table.
The Japanese-French proposal came as the deadline for getting items on this year’s UN agenda ticked away. In the Third Committee Tuesday at the UN, the resolution was introduced, but the panel voted to table it until Wednesday morning, a UN news release stated.