Pressure to act on the Khmer Rouge trial draft law shifted to the National Assembly on Thursday, as Minister of Cabinet Sok An met with Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
Assembly officials said last week they were awaiting a formal presentation from the government on the final round of talks with UN negotiator Hans Corell earlier this month.
After the meeting, which lasted about an hour, Sok An told reporters little has changed since Corell left July 7 after asking for quick action on the law.
When asked if the government really wants to see this tribunal occur, he was emphatic. “We are committed and more than committed,’’ Sok An said.
And, asked if the various amnesties and pardons granted to some former Khmer Rouge officials will protect them from prosecution, he was unequivocal.
“That is addressed clearly in Article 1 of the draft law,’’ he said, which states that all “senior
leaders” of the Khmer Rouge
from 1975 to 1979 face prosecution. Asked if that applies to Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary, he said, “All should be tried.’’
Prince Ranariddh, however, told reporters that “we still have some difficult problems’’ to resolve before the law can be passed. He did not elaborate, other than to say that they involve Article 1.
It would be helpful if Hans Corell could come back to Cambodia to clarify some questions and also to provide a list of nominees to serve as the tribunal’s foreign judges, added Prince Ranariddh, also the president of Funcinpec.
The draft law sets up three courts: a five-judge trial court (three judges to be Cambodian); a seven-judge appeals court (four judges Cambodian); and a nine-judge supreme court (five judges Cambodian).
That means nine foreign judges will be needed; with substitutes, that could mean as many as 18 foreign nominees.
Sources who have been closely watching the draft law’s progress say that while Sok An and CPP negotiators have worked hard to prepare the law for passage, National Assembly leaders seem newly reluctant to move quickly.
“[Prince] Ranarridh has the law,’’ one diplomatic source said. “The question is his commitment. Sok An has spent hundreds of hours on this, and he is a busy man. Now we need some signs of Funcinpec commitment.’’
The prince said Thursday that Sok An is continuing to speak with CPP officials about the draft law, and must also speak with the legislative commission overseeing the draft law before it comes to the floor for debate. Monh Sophan, chairman of the commission, said no date has been set.
The assembly still has time to act on the law before Prime Minister Hun Sen meets with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the UN General Assembly meeting beginning in September.