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
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.


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

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs