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

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More