Rights Group Raps Cambodia’s Judicial System

Cambodia’s “weak and corrupt” ju­­dicial system remains a major ob­stacle to upholding and protecting hu­­­man rights in the country, accor­d­ing to Amnesty International’s 2005 annual report.

“Concerns remained about the weak and corrupt judicial system,” the report, which was released on Wednesday and profiled 149 countries, stated. “High-profile cases were marked by political interference and, more broadly, there was a failure to ad­here to procedures laid down in na­tional law and international standards.”

One of the cases highlighted by Am­­nesty International was the trial and unlawfully long pretrial detention of four Muslim men accused of being involved in the militant group Je­maah Islamiyah.

“The conduct of the case was mar­ked by political interference with the judiciary and lack of evidence,” the report stated. Three of the men were sentenced to life in December while one man was acquitted.

The report also focused on the kil­ling of union leader Chea Vichea in January 2004. The investigation in­to Chea Vi­chea’s murder was marked by “ju­dicial irregularities,” and the case fits with other politically motivated kil­lings in that it re­mains unresolved, the report ad­ded.

Government spokesman Khieu Kan­­harith, however, called the re­port “messy” and “unspecific.”

“Impunity means not convicting the criminal,” Khieu Kanharith said. “When the suspects have not been found, that is not impunity. When we do not find the criminals, they blame us. But in the Chea Vi­chea case, when we arrested suspects, they said they were not the right sus­pects.”

The report also questioned the law establishing the Khmer Rouge tri­bunals, saying: “Serious flaws re­mained which threatened the in­te­grity of the legal process and set a dan­gerous precedent for other fu­ture international or ‘mixed’ tribunals.”

Helen Jarvis, of the government’s Khmer Rouge tribunal taskforce, dis­missed Amnesty International’s com­ments.

“It sounds like a broken record,” she said Thursday. “They’ve been saying the same thing for the past 10 years. I don’t think they have looked closely enough at the law.”




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