A coalition of rights groups has called on the Khmer Rouge tribunal to assure the quality and transparency of medical care provided to pretrial detainees.
The call follows the detention Wednesday of Khmer Rouge “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, 82, who was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
“Any failure in offering Nuon Chea a specialized…best treatment to ensure that he has a good health condition…will seriously affect negatively the process of [the] ECCC,” the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 23 NGOs, said in a statement released Saturday.
Hisham Mousar, a court monitor for the rights group Adhoc, which chairs CHRAC, said Sunday that CHRAC hoped the court would provide guarantees that care to tribunal suspects will be provided in transparency.
“This isn’t to say that we think Nuon Chea is sick,” Mousar said.
“It’s simply to say that, if he is sick, he shouldn’t be treated in the same way as [Khmer Rouge military commander] Ta Mok,” he said.
“Clearly, we think that the health system of the Extraordinary Chambers is not sufficiently clear and does not yet answer in a sufficient manner the preoccupations we have,” Mousar said.
Former Khmer Rouge, family members and Ta Mok’s lawyer have said that they found the death of the former commander in a Phnom Penh hospital July 21, 2006 to be suspicious.
Military Court officials said at the time that Ta Mok had received all necessary care, but Mousar claimed Sunday that the absence of an autopsy made claims of foul play harder to rebut.
Khmer Rouge tribunal and hospital officials said Sunday that medical facilities for aging leaders of the regime were adequate.
Helen Jarvis, the tribunal’s chief of public affairs, said that the tribunal had five doctors, four nurses, an infirmary and an ambulance on hand to treat detainees, and that in-patient care would be provided at Calmette Hospital.
“I think it’s always been considered a very important consideration and that’s exactly why we’ve made these rather comprehensive arrangements,” she said of the need to provide adequate care.
Nuon Chea’s lawyer Son Arun said Sunday that Nuon Chea had undergone 2 1/2 hours of medical examinations Friday at Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital, where doctors checked his lungs, liver and took blood samples.
Nuon Chea was believed to be in good health although results are not expected until later this week, he said.