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Amnesty Calls for Expanded Tribunal Prosecution

Amnesty International has called on prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal to expand their strategy and reveal their decision publicly, following the appointment of a new UN-appointed prosecutor to the court.

“Three years into the work of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the prosecution has identified only ten suspects as being ‘senior leaders’ or ‘most responsible’ for massive human rights violations that took place between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979,” the group said in a Dec. 4 statement, referring to the tribunal by its official name. “Unless more cases are investigated and prosecuted, it is highly questionable whether the current caseload would fulfill the mandate of the tribunal.”

The statement follows the appointment of British attorney Andrew Cayley as the UN’s international prosecutor and a ruling by tribunal judges to investigate five more suspects beyond five currently in detention.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and other Cambodian officials have said more indictments could destabilize the country. Hun Sen said last week he would rather see the UN-backed court fail than have “war” return.

The UN’s first prosecutor, Robert Petit, who resigned earlier this year, originally filed for more indictments, putting him at loggerheads with his Cambodian counterpart, Chea Leang, who echoed Hun Sen’s warning. Only a split decision along national and international lines within the Pre-Trial Chamber of the court moved those indictments to the investigation stage.

“In light of his predecessors’ success in warding off interference and expanding the prosecution’s cases, Amnesty International urges the International Co-Prosecutor to develop a comprehensive prosecution strategy that reflects the crimes committed under its jurisdiction,” the group said Friday. “Such a strategy should include taking into account the types of crimes, the context in which they were committed and the communities and groups affected…. Should the new International Co-Prosecutor decide not to conduct further investigations into other crimes nor to prosecute other suspects, the people of Cambodia, including survivors and their relatives around the world, deserve an explaination.”