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 Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.