UN Official Criticizes Blueprint for KR Trial

The UN’s special repre­sen­ta­tive for human rights in Cam­bo­dia said the current design for the proposed international tribunal of former Khmer Rouge leaders is not one he would have chosen.

“I am an international lawyer,” said Peter Leuprecht, an Austrian who is a law professor in Canada. “If I were to have designed an international tribunal, I would not have designed this one….But now we have to make the best of it.”

Leuprecht spoke to reporters at Hotel Le Royal on the last day of a seven-day visit, his third since being appointed to his position in August.

He said he still believes it is better to have a mixed tribunal, in which international judges outnumber Cambodian judges, than to have no tribunal at all.

“But to be very frank, I believe it will be much more difficult to find competent and independent Cam­bodian judges for this tribunal than to find competent and independent international judg­es,” he said. “So I think it will be extremely important to see what Cam­bodian judges will be nom­in­a­ted for this court.”

Leuprecht said he made clear in his various meetings with government officials that the UN must sign an agreement with the gov­ernment after the law governing the Khmer Rouge tribunal is ap­proved by Parliament and signed by King Norodom Sihan­ouk.

On Wednesday, a UN spokes­man in New York made a similar statement. Leuprecht said these reminders are “useful” for the gov­ernment, as well as the media and the public.

He said the law will be “scrutinized very carefully” once the UN receives an official translation.

“If the UN is satisfied with the law, it will certainly not delay the process in any way,” he said.

Unfortunately, Leuprecht said, a memorandum of understanding between the government and the UN Commission on Human Rights office here was not signed during his vis­it.

UNCHR’s mandate with the gov­ernment expired in February.

Prime Minister Hun Sen “clear­­ly and strongly expressed his support for the office” in their Tues­day meeting, he said.

However, the memorandum of understanding needs Min­ister of Foreign Affairs and In­ternational Cooperation Hor Nam­hong’s signature.

“I didn’t meet the minister this time,” he said. “I do not know the reason.”

Leuprecht said he hopes the agreement will be signed before his next visit in September or Oc­tober.

Leuprecht said he was “happy” that international donors chose to give the Cambodian government pledges of $560 million at the Consultative Group meeting in Tokyo earlier this month.

He noted that his first recommendation in his first report to the UN on the human rights situation in Cambodia was that international aid to the nation should be increased.

Leuprecht’s second report, which he said would cover a full range of issues but would primarily focus on the issues of land reform and demobilization, will be presented to the UN Gen­eral Assembly in New York in two to four months.

He said his weeklong visit, in which he traveled to Battambang and Banteay Meanchey prov­in­ces, and met with the King, was “fascinating.”

“My education concerning your country continues,” he said. “I am learning a lot.”

 

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