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Rights Advocate Suggests Truth Commission

Even if the Khmer Rouge tribunal manages to try all five aging leaders now in custody, Cambodia will likely need more reconciliation, a leading rights activist said Monday.

The tribunal is undertaking its first trial, of the regime’s chief torturer, Duch, but the country might need something like South Africa’s Truth Commission alongside the court in order for Cambodians to be at peace with the past, said Kek Galabru, founder of the rights group Licadho.

“People are still not feeling justified with the trial of the five accused,” she said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “For instance, some say that they see many former prison directors who operated in their provinces who are still alive. People still feel pain, even seeing the trial of the five Khmer Rouge leaders.”

She suggested an expert be invited to Cambodia to demonstrate how truth commissions are run.

Meanwhile, more and more Cambodians are paying attention to the trial of Duch, she said, which contributes to national healing.

Not everyone has been satisfied with the tribunal.

A “Hello VOA” caller from Oddar Meanchey province said he did not believe the UN-backed tribunal would provide justice. The tribunal is being held in Cambodia, he said, so the court could not be insulated from political influence.

Another caller, Sun Thun, from Kampong Thom province, said he wished to see the court finish its work as quickly as possible, so more evidence against those involved in the killings of the Khmer Rouge would come to light.

He said he wanted more indictments of former regime leaders and disagreed with statements by Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials that further indictments could destabilize the country.

“I don't see any war,” he said. “Our country is bound by the Paris Peace Agreement, in which signatory countries are committed to bringing an end to wars in Cambodia. If there is a war, it is those in the government who would create it.”