The UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal is facing nettling allegations of kickbacks and corruption. But experts at a recent genocide conference in Arlington, Va., say allegations of corruption at the tribunal should not be a central question in the court’s ability to dispense justice.
Alex Hinton, Rutgers University professor at the department of sociology and anthropology and director of the Center for the Studies of Genocide and Human Rights, said he has been disappointed that some certain problems are overshadowing the important aspects of the proceedings.
“No trial is pure and perfect,” he said. “The idea is that you try to aspire for those high standards. But the problem is, if you get focused on the negatives, you fail to see the positive things, and that’ll be a very disappointing thing if that’s the only thing that the Khmer Rouge tribunal is remembered for.’’
Greg Stanton, president of Genocide Watch and the International Association of Genocide Scholars, told VOA Khmer in an interview allegations remain unproven, even while they are being pursued by the UN and by defense lawyers.
“The UN has been asked to come in and help [Cambodia] govern this tribunal. I think it needs to have very high standards, and I’ve always insisted on that,” Stanton said. “So, I do believe the tribunal needs to be free of corruption.”
However, he said, we should not take the allegations to be an excuse to ignore the crimes committed by Khmer Rouge.
“If we let what are probably rather minor types of corruption undermine the credibility of this court, we would be ignoring the big picture, which is the tremendous crimes that the Khmer Rouge committed,” he said.
Dacil Keo, a Cambodian-American doctoral student of political science at University of Wisconsin-Madison, told VOA Khmer that corruption at any level could affect the process of justice sought by victims of the regime.
“In particular, a lot of Cambodians right now don’t generally trust government officials,” she said. “They know that Cambodia has a corrupt government. I think with that existing perspective on the Cambodian government, the Khmers should work very hard to make sure that, you know, if there’s corruption, they deal with it.”