A leading human rights advocate added his voice to a chorus of criticism for the UN’s handling of the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday, saying the international agency should investigate the way investigating judges handled a controversial third case at the court.
Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, told “Hello VOA” the UN must “investigate the current chaos” at the court, after judges hastily concluded an investigation into Case 003.
The handling of that case, which the government opposes, has set off a raft of complaints from victims groups and legal experts and sparked resignations of staff members and a chief consultant to the judges.
At least four international staff members have quit the office of the judges, after the judges announced the conclusion to the investigation of Case 003 without visiting key crime sites or interviewing the two suspects.
“They came here to find justice for people, and when they saw that nothing was happening as they wanted, they resigned,” Ou Virak said.
The legacy of the court is now in jeopardy, he said, with many critics viewing the latest developments as further evidence of political interference from the Cambodian government and inaction by the UN to put the court on track.
With four leaders in jail and awaiting trial and five more suspects in two more cases for possible indictments, the court can still be credible, he said.
“If this court tried its best, without political interference, and followed through with legal procedures, we Cambodians would be satisfied,” he said. “But if in this court we know that there are 10 people to be tried, and there is a ban so only five are tried, that is not satisfactory. Justice cannot be based on that figure.”
As a rights advocate, he said, his chief concern is the legitimacy of the court. “A court cannot leave a legacy with a corrupt image, or with political interference or with closing a case without acceptable investigation,” he said. “That’s regrettable.”
The investigating judges’ office has is now in disarray due to limited capacity and because “they were politically pressured,” he said, a claim that court officials have repeatedly denied.
“If neither of [the judges] can stand up, which means they can’t fulfill their jobs,” he said, “then they should resign.”