News / Asia

UN Legal Chief Wraps Up Visit to Cambodia’s Tribunal

U.N. Under Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Patricia O'Brien smiles during a meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, October 20, 2011.
U.N. Under Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Patricia O'Brien smiles during a meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, October 20, 2011.

The head of the United Nations’ Office of Legal Affairs wrapped up her visit to Cambodia’s troubled Khmer Rouge tribunal on Friday with strong words for the Cambodian government, which has long spoken out against two of the court’s investigations. But there was no mention of whether the U.N. would investigate the conduct of one of the court’s key offices that has been criticized by observers and survivors.

Patricia O’Brien’s visit to Phnom Penh came after German investigating judge Siegfried Blunk quit earlier this month citing political interference.

Late Thursday O’Brien said she had strongly urged Phnom Penh to stop making statements opposing the progress of two of the four main cases, known as Case 003 and 004. She also called for authorities to refrain from interfering in any way with the judicial process and reminded the government that it is obliged to cooperate fully with the tribunal.

Over the past year Cambodian ministers have publicly spoken out against the court’s final two cases.

Ou Virak, the president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), and a survivor of the Khmer Rouge, which killed his father welcomed O’Brien’s statement - in part.

“I thought the statement was concise enough, but my problem with it is that it referred to political statements by the government, by government officials. I think it doesn’t go far enough," he said. "We need to make sure that the U.N. is pushing for complete independence of the court, and therefore not just statements being made public, but any sign of interference by the government should be unacceptable - and that to me is what was missing.”

Court observers and survivor groups have criticized the conduct of the tribunal in recent months, arguing that judges were politically pressured to undermine their investigations into Cases 003 and 004.   

O’Brien’s statement did not mention whether the United Nations would investigate what had occurred at the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges - the arm of the court lead by Blunk and his Cambodian counterpart You Bunleng.

Ou Virak, the president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), is among those who have called for an independent investigation.

He said he and other Cambodian observers met with O’Brien on Friday and told the U.N. legal chief that the court must build public confidence.

“The court needs to provide this confidence by properly investigating, by putting into place the necessary mechanism to ensure there’s no such things in the future. But the problem is they have to address all these allegations including the allegation I think made lately by the resignation of Judge Blunk,” Oy said.

Virak said he was not encouraged by O'brien’s willingness to order a probe.

Instead, he says, the conversation from the U.N. side focused on reasons not to investigate.

U.N. spokesman Lars Olsen said Friday that O’Brien had gathered information so that the U.N. can decide “what action, if any, would be appropriate.”

Earlier this week the tribunal announced that Case 002, against the four surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge, would start in late November.

And on Thursday the court heard arguments over whether defendant Ieng Thirith, the former social affairs minister, is fit to strand trial.

Medical experts say Ieng Thirith has dementia, and her legal team says she is not fit for trial. That is opposed by the prosecution and lawyers for civil parties.

The tribunal is expected to rule on Ieng Thirith’s fitness for trial in the coming weeks.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

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

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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
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 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.

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