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Government Hampering Tribunal Efforts, Group Warns


In this photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Judges and clerks of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal are standing inside the court hall of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, file photo.

In this photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Judges and clerks of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal are standing inside the court hall of the U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh, file photo.

The Cambodian government has done little to help the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal in bringing former leaders of the regime to justice, Human Rights Watch says. And now it is failing to help bring in at least two more suspects for potential indictment.

“The Cambodian government’s refusal to cooperate in bringing Khmer Rouge leaders before the UN-backed tribunal would be the last straw after years of obstruction, delay, and corruption,” Brad Adams, director of the group’s Asia division, said.

Adams was referring to the March 3 announcement of international investigating judge Mark Harmon that he was charging in absentia two former Khmer Rouge commanders, Im Chaem and Meas Muth, for atrocity crimes.

But the Cambodian investigating judge has “refused to forward the cases to the police, while the police have reportedly refused to act on Harmon’s charges,” Human Rights Watch said.

“If the government fails to act quickly on the judge’s charges, then it’s time the UN end its participation and for donors to stop funding the tribunal,” Adams said. “Further support would just make a mockery of justice for millions of victims and their families.”

Cambodian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra told VOA Khmer that the investigating judges are working according to procedures, and if they have differences, “there will be mechanisms for a solution.”

There are a total four living suspects in two outstanding cases at the tribunal. But critics of the court say they are unlikely to face justice. The UN and Cambodian sides of the court have been at odds at numerous times since the tribunal’s inception, in 2006. The court has in that time so far successfully undertaken just two cases against three subjects.

Im Chaem, a former district governor for the Khmer Rouge, told VOA Khmer she will not cooperate with the court. “I am not going,” she said. “It’s not practical, and I did nothing wrong, as they charged, so I won’t go.”

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