UN human rights envoy Peter Leuprecht expressed hope Monday that the stalled Khmer Rouge tribunal will go forward and said that a number of “friendly” countries continue to try to get the UN and the government together to further discuss a joint trial.
Speaking at Pochentong Airport after his arrival, Leuprecht declined to say which countries were working with the UN and Cambodia to facilitate talks. He added that he would raise the Khmer Rouge tribunal talks with the government during his week-long visit here.
“It would be regrettable if no tribunal took place,” Leuprecht said Monday. “I still have hope that a trial will take place.”
In early February, the UN decided to pull out of the Khmer Rouge trial negotiations, a move that drew heavy criticism from some diplomats and furthered fears that the already stalled trials would never take place, failing to bring some Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.
Since February, only India indicated it would help with a non-UN assisted Khmer Rouge trial. During a visit here in April, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee told reporters that India would send a judge for the trials if the UN does not return to the bargaining table and Cambodia then goes ahead with a trial of its own.
When asked if Leuprecht would support a non-UN assisted tribunal, he said “in my mind, this [proposal] is a second place substitute.” He also said that an entirely domestic Khmer Rouge trial would most likely “have little credibility.”
During his visit to Cambodia, Leuprecht will pay a visit to King Norodom Sihanouk on Tuesday and will meet various government officials to discuss judicial reform, education, the Feb 3 commune elections and the 2003 national elections.
The human rights envoy will also make a trip to Kompong Cham province, where he will look into the Nov 14 killings of a Funcinpec commune candidate and Sam Rainsy Party activist in Srolop commune, Tbong Khmum district.
In May, the UN and other human rights groups criticized the Kompong Cham court for acquitting two men who were accused of the killings.