The Council of Ministers has adopted a draft agreement with the US promising not to send US or Cambodian citizens to the International Criminal Court for war crimes or crimes against humanity.
The accord, approved Friday, will send US and Cambodian suspects to their respective countries for trial rather than to the court in The Hague, Netherlands, said Council of Ministers lawyer Heng Vong Bunchhat.
“America will send Cambodians to Cambodian court,” he said Monday.
CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Friday the Council approved the agreement to help the US’ anti-terror efforts, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and the US ambassador, Charles Ray, signed the pact in June, after a visit from US Secretary of State Colin Powell. The court can only prosecute crimes that occurred after July 1, 2002.
The ratification of the agreement will be a bid to maintain US support at any cost, opposition and royalist officials said Monday.
“Funcinpec always supports whatever the US requires of Cambodia,” said Funcinpec security adviser Serey Kosal.
Although Sam Rainsy’s meeting with Powell resulted in less US backing than opposition members had hoped for, party spokesman Ung Bun-Ang said Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians would not stymie the accord’s ratification.
The opposition does not object to the agreement unless it undermines Cambodia’s ICC membership, he said. “It would be wrong [not to punish Cambodian criminals]. The agreement should subject Cambodian citizens to the ICC,” Ung Bun-Ang said.
Om Yentieng, an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, said Monday the Council of Ministers considered the agreement according to a predetermined schedule. He denied that the US forced the resolution’s approval.
The agreement will go before the new National Assembly for ratification. No date is set to consider it, as a political standoff has stalled the selection of Assembly leaders, Heng Vong Bunchhat said.
(Additional reporting by Lor Chandara)