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

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    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.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora