With a question mark hanging over the suitability of some Khmer Rouge tribunal appointees, opinions differed last week as to whether a communist bloc education emphasized the pursuit of truth and justice or loyalty to the ruling party and the security of the state.
Of the 17 Cambodian judges and prosecutors appointed to the tribunal, four received their legal education in Cambodia, four were schooled in Kazakhstan and three in the USSR, of whom one pursued further study in Japan.
Three more studied in Vietnam, two in East Germany and one in France.
Awarded a doctorate in law from the National University of Kazakhstan, Ratanakkiri Provincial Court Director Yar Narin said that attending college in the communist bloc during the 1970s and 1980s was comparable to any Western equivalent.
“I believe that all places are the same. The law is the law,” Yar Narin said by telephone last week.
“Communist or democrat, the law is the law. If there is a law but there is not enough evidence, we can’t charge people,” he said.
“There is no difference,” said Yar Narin, who was appointed to the tribunal’s supreme court chambers.
Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema, who in 1985 studied political science in Hanoi, agreed.
Kep Chuktema said that his classes emphasized research and writing, and that his education in Vietnam gave him the leadership skills needed to lead the capital.
“Education in Vietnam is no different,” he said, but added that he had not studied in the US.