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Rights Group Seeks to Spread Tribunal News to More Cambodians

The human rights group Adhoc said Tuesday it planned to increase efforts to educate lay Cambodians about the Khmer Rouge tribunal, the start of which has been marred by subtle bickering and complicated rules meetings.

Part of the new initiative would include grassroots sessions to explain the history of the Khmer Rouge regime, the creation of a tribunal to try its leaders and the stumbling blocks bedeviling the trials.

The Adhoc initiative comes as the tribunal is facing a deepening crisis, with UN-appointed and Cambodian judges unable to implement its governing rules and the Cambodian Bar Association refusing the lower high fees for foreign-lawyer participation.

The succession of hurdles are closely watched by genocide experts, government officials and diplomats, but Adhoc said everyday Cambodians deserved more explanation.

"The face-to-face meetings will help a lot in explaining the information that they don't understand, why the Khmer Rouge Tribunal takes so long, so they would not have so much trauma," Adhoc Director Thun Saray said.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath welcomed the initiative, "which will benefit the public."

"I am very happy about it," he said.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said the program would fill a role that has so far been overlooked.