News / Asia

US Group Condemns UN Tribunal in Cambodia

A tourist walks past photos of former prisoners displayed at Tuol Sleng genocide museum, a former Khmer Rouge prison known as S-21, in Phnom Penh.
A tourist walks past photos of former prisoners displayed at Tuol Sleng genocide museum, a former Khmer Rouge prison known as S-21, in Phnom Penh.
Robert Carmichael

A US-based organization for survivors of the Khmer Rouge condemned the UN-backed war crimes tribunal on Thursday for preventing overseas Cambodians from taking part in the court’s controversial third case.

Tribunal observers fear the court is trying to dismiss those cases in the face of stringent government opposition.

The U.S.-based survivors group ASRIC says the war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh will fail to deliver justice if it ditches its third and fourth cases that are opposed by the Cambodian government.

The judges closed the investigation into case three about one month ago. But the international prosecutor, Andrew Cayley, later said the investigation into case three was deficient and said more work should be done. Since then, Cayley has been ordered by the court to retract the criticism but he says he will appeal the order.  

ASRIC says the tribunal cannot decide on the merits of its third case without a proper investigation.

Leakhena Nou is the founder of ASRIC, which is the only Khmer Rouge survivors’ organization in the United States.

“Cambodian survivors and Cambodian society deserve better than this because they’ve suffered for 35 years and they have not had their day in court," she said. "So just prosecuting the five senior-most defendants is not enough if there is evidence that leads to other potential perpetrators, then the court officials need to do the right thing.”

Cambodian students re-enact torture executed by the Khmer Rouge to mark the annual 'Day of Anger' at Choeung Ek, a former Khmer Rouge 'killing field' dotted with mass graves about nine miles (15 kilometers) south of Phnom Penh (File Photo)
Cambodian students re-enact torture executed by the Khmer Rouge to mark the annual 'Day of Anger' at Choeung Ek, a former Khmer Rouge 'killing field' dotted with mass graves about nine miles (15 kilometers) south of Phnom Penh (File Photo)

She says that in the past week more than 750 people have signed a petition calling on the UN-backed tribunal to investigate case three properly. She says the court, which has been largely silent on what is going on, needs to do better.

“Well we want more transparency coming from the court. We want more up-to-date information," she said. "And we need the court to settle their differences both on the Cambodian side and the UN. So people just have to put their egos aside and focus on what’s best for the survivors as opposed to their own individual interests.”

The UN-backed tribunal in Phnom Penh was set up to hear cases involving crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge during the movement’s rule of Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

Around two million people died during that four-year period.

A total of 10 people were expected to be investigated in four cases.

The court concluded the first case last year and convicted the former security chief of the Khmer Rouge of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The four elderly defendants in case two will go on trial next month.

But the Cambodian government has expressed outright opposition to cases three and four. Prime Minister Hun Sen has said that additional prosecutions could destabilize the country’s security.

Critics say that because of the hybrid nature of the tribunal - with Cambodian and international staff in parallel positions throughout its structure - the government opposition has significantly hampered the chances of a proper investigation.

During the investigation into case three, the investigating judges decided not to release any information to the public. The secrecy meant victims of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia had no way of knowing whether the crimes being investigated affected them.

International prosecutor Cayley has called on the court to extend the May 18 deadline for applications by six weeks. ASRIC, which registered dozens of civil parties for case two, supports that stance.

The investigating judges who have authority over that decision have not commented on the request for an extension.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid