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UN Not Fulfilling Tribunal Role as Partner: Monitor

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, ECCC, file photo.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, ECCC, file photo.

With the Khmer Rouge tribunal facing its second case and continued criticism over its handling of two more, a leading court monitor says the UN needs to consider itself a partner and “set an example.”

“Since its inception, there has been no one on the UN side to take full responsibility for the success or failure of the court,” Long Panhavuth, a monitor for the Cambodia Justice Initiative, told “Hello VOA” Monday.

“Mostly when there is a problem, the UN tends not to acknowledge a problem and seems to push it to the other side to take responsibility,” he said. “They are also slow to respond to an issue.”

The UN was slow to address corruption allegations that dogged the court early after its inception and has not fixed other challenges to the court, he said.

In a Facebook comment prior to the show, Seang Sophagna, a staff member on the UN side of the court, said the tribunal is a chamber of the Cambodian court. “The UN role is to assist not to control or oversee.”

Long Panhavuth disagreed, saying that UN officials do not clearly understand their role at the hybrid court.

“Some UN officials see their role as just coming in to assist, which requires that they give only advice,” he said. “But they actually perform their full roles as prosecutor, investigator and judges representing the international side.”

He suggested the UN side see itself as a “partner,” not as an “adviser.”