News / Asia

Cambodian Premier says No More Khmer Rouge Trials

Cambodian President Hun Sen, left and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon inspect honor guard in Phnom Penh, 27 Oct 2010
Cambodian President Hun Sen, left and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon inspect honor guard in Phnom Penh, 27 Oct 2010
TEXT SIZE - +
Robert Carmichael

Camdodia's prime minister says the four former Khmer Rouge leaders awaiting trial next year would be the last to be prosecuted. 

Unilateral decision

Hun Sen put not one, but two, shots across the bow of the United Nations, during a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who arrived late Tuesday on a two-day official visit.

The first shot was that he was against allowing the international war crimes court in Phnom Penh to prosecute any more former Khmer Rouge members.

The court is a hybrid U.N.-Cambodian tribunal, funded mainly by donations from U.N. member states.

The second shot - the prime minister wants the United Nations to shut its local human rights office, after firing the office's country head, Christophe Peschoux.

UN reaction

Ban is not scheduled to speak to the media until Thursday, but his spokesman, Yves Sorokobi spoke to VOA.

He says matters of staffing are purely the preserve of the United Nations, and the organization stands by all of its staff, including Peschoux.  But when it comes to the matter of the office itself, that is a matter of bilateral cooperation.  And that means if Cambodia no longer wants a U.N. human rights office, then in the long term there is not much the United Nations can do about that.

"This has been a matter of bilateral cooperation," noted Sorokobi. "The secretary-general in his meeting with the prime minister today discussed this matter.  There was no decision made there by the secretary-general, and I believe that now that the government has made its position clear, the secretary-general will consult."

Tribunal's work

The Khmer Rouge tribunal began its work in 2006, and earlier this year sentenced Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Comrade Duch, the defendant in the first case, to 30 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It is scheduled to begin the second case, against four former leaders of the movement next year.

International investigators had opened dockets into another five unnamed former Khmer Rouge, and those five constituted Cases Three and Four.

But today Prime Minister Hun Sen effectively shot those down.

Reasoning behind decision

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith told VOA that Hun Sen is against those cases for several reasons.

He says the prime minister believes those being investigated were not high-ranking members in the Khmer Rouge and their prosecutions would fall outside the deal between the United Nations and Cambodia to establish a tribunal in the first place.

"The second reason [is] he said that the primary goal of setting up this court, is first to find justice for the Cambodian people, and two is to preserve the peace and political stability in the country," Kanharith said.

Despite the prime minister's declaration the second trial will be the last, Sorokobi says the United Nations stands committed to the idea of judicial independence at the court.

"Again, this is a matter for the court officials, for the independent councilors to decide, and we have to give them the space that they need to make the proper decision.  There should be no political interference with their work," Sorokobi said.

Accountability

Later, Mr. Ban told the staff at the war crimes tribunal headquarters outside Phnom Penh he is firmly resolved those kinds of acts the Khmer Rouge is accused of should never happen again.

He said accountability, justice and the fight against impunity were the standards during his tenure as secretary-general.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid