NEWARK, New Jersey – Scholars and experts discussed here at Rutgers University on Thursday the factors and influences in recent years that caused leaders of the United States to give tepid, but not official and direct, assistance to the recently convened Tribunal setup to hold to account surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime.
The Khmer Rouge Tribunal setup official operations in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh in early 2006, following more than 10 years of tough negotiations between the United Nations and the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
After compromises by both sides, especially the U.N., a unique ‘joint’ tribunal was agreed upon in 2003. Cambodian judges and prosecutors and international judges and prosecutors are working together to try to bring at least a hand full of men and women who led the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime to justice.
The work of the tribunal today is being hindered because the Cambodian judges and prosecutors and the international judges and prosecutors have been unable to agree on rules, regulations and procedures and details related to the tribunal’s work, including witness protections. Talks have run into a wall in Cambodia, sources from both sides have told reporters in recent days.
At issue, in essence, is whether the tribunal can be conducted free of political pressure. Hun Sen and many of his top associates and ministers were low- and mid-level Khmer Rouge functionaries in the 1970s.