News / Asia

Human Rights Watch: Khmer Rouge Tribunal Needs New Judges for Justice to Be Served

A Cambodian man walks past one of the many killing fields sites at a school on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
A Cambodian man walks past one of the many killing fields sites at a school on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Kate WoodsomeSarah Williams

Human Rights Watch says the Cambodian people have no hope of seeing justice for crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge so long as two controversial judges are sitting on the court trying former leaders of the genocidal regime.

The New York-based group said Monday that co-investigative judges You Bunleng of Cambodia and Siegfried Blunk of Germany have politicized the tribunal and should step down.

Brad Adams, the head of HRW's Asia division, said the judges have violated their legal and judicial duties by not investigating two Khmer Rouge officials in what is known as Case 003.

“These two men, the head of the air force and the head of the navy, were never even interviewed or notified that they were under investigation," Adams said, referring to Khmer Rouge air force commander, Sou Met, and navy commander, Meas Muth.

"We know that [the investigators] didn’t go to the crime scene. We know that they didn’t interview the witnesses they should have interviewed. They simply closed this down and it will probably remain a mystery about why they closed it down.”

Political pressure...or not

Adams suggested the judges may be bowing to the pressure of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge fighter opposed to the prosecution of anyone but the most senior Khmer Rouge leaders. Mr. Hun Sen has said a civil war could break out if more investigations are made.

The court has not confirmed the identity of the defendants named in cases 003 and 004, but Lars Olsen, a tribunal spokesman, said there is some question about whether they would be appropriate candidates for prosecution.

“The judges have said that they are in doubt about whether or not the defendants will fall into the category of people under the jurisdiction of the court. Namely, senior leaders of Democratic Kampuchea or those most responsible for the crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea,” said Olsen.

Nearly two million people, or a quarter of Cambodia’s population, died under the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. The U.N.-backed court was created nearly 30 years later in an effort to find justice for Cambodia’s victims and survivors.

Olsen said Blunk and You Bunleng are fulfilling their duties to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC.

“The co-investigating judges will continue to perform their duties independently and also, to the mind that the ECCC proceedings have built-in checks and balances,” he said.

The appeals process

Those checks and balances include the ability to appeal any decision made by the co-investigating judges to the pre-trial chamber. The judges have not yet filed a closing order in cases 003 and 004. But even if they did, Human Rights Watch says any appeal against those orders would almost certainly be dismissed.

Adams said the judges have already demonstrated they are not interested in hearing the international prosecutor’s concerns.

“When the prosecutor objected, they threatened him with contempt of court. So it’s time for those guys to go," he said. "They need to go before those cases are finally and completely dismissed so that Cambodians can see these people put on trial if they are indeed responsible.”

The court so far has tried and convicted one person, the former director of the S-21 prison. Kaing Guek Eav, or Duch, was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes. He is to spend the next 19 years in prison. The second case, involving the Khmer Rouge’s four senior leaders, is scheduled to begin next year.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs