New York-based Human Rights Watch on Monday called on the investigating judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal to “resign,” saying they had violated the legal and judicial duties set out by the UN-backed court in their investigation of two controversial cases.
In a statement, the group said judges Siegfried Blunk and You Bunleng had failed to conduct genuine, impartial and effective investigations into Cases 003 and 004, which accuse five additional regime cadre of atrocity crimes.
“It appears likely that both cases will be dropped without a serious investigation having taken place,” the group said.
The judges have come under increased criticism from court observers who worry the judges have weighed political implications into their decisions.
In April, they hastily concluded Case 003 without interviewing two suspects or visiting key crime sites. They have since said they have serious doubts about whether the five suspects in the two cases—which Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly opposes—constitute those most responsible for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge, a key mandate for the court.
Prosecutors have said the five suspects oversaw major atrocities, including forced labor, executions and other crimes.
A tribunal spokesman said the court has specific mechanisms to address such differences, adding that the courts were working “independently.”
“The investigating judges concluded their investigation into Case 003 without notifying the suspects, interviewing key witnesses, or conducting crime site investigations,” Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “This would be shocking for an ordinary crime, but it’s unbelievable when it involves some of the 20th Century’s worst atrocities. The Cambodian people have no hope of seeing justice for mass murder as long as these judges are involved.”