Tribunal Prosecuting Too Few: Amnesty International

Amnesty International has joined the chorus of human rights groups asking that the Khmer Rouge tribunal prosecute more people than the five currently detained.

“These prosecutions are not sufficient to fulfill the mandate and to deliver justice to Cambodians, and will not achieve the level of accountability that was envisaged when creating the Extraordinary Chambers,” Amnesty said in a statement released Friday.

Amnesty International recommended that the tribunal’s Pre-Trial Chamber side with international co-prosecutor Robert Petit in a dispute with his Cambodian counterpart Chea Leang and allow the prosecution of at least six more suspects identified by Petit. Chea Leang has opposed investigating more suspects, arguing it would risk destabilizing the country, was against the “spirit” of the court’s founding agreement and would exceed the tribunal’s time and budget.

“The arguments by the Cambodian co-prosecutor, they’ve been political ones. We think they must be made based on the law and the facts,” said Brittis Edman, Amnesty International’s Cambodia researcher.

The Open Society Justice Initiative, Human Rights Watch and the 21 NGOs of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee have all made similar calls.

Amnesty also demanded a better system to address corruption allegations at the court, saying that the new system the UN and government announced in February lacked independence and would not protect whistleblowers. Under that system, the government would handle corruption allegations by staff on the Cambodian side of the court, and the UN side would set up a parallel mechanism.

“The proposal does not guarantee prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation of allegations,” the Amnesty statement read.

The court set itself a March 23 deadline to finalize the agreement, but discussions are ongoing.

“We expect to agree and formalize the details very soon,” tribunal Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis said Sunday. “I would say that Am-

nesty International never supported the concept of this court,” she said of the statement. “They recommended a completely international court, so it’s not surprising that they continue to criticize it.”

 

 

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