- Global Voices - https://globalvoices.org -

Cambodia: Doubts over the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Categories: East Asia, Cambodia, Citizen Media, History, Human Rights, International Relations, Law

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal is now weeks into its first trial [1] with the prosecution of Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, for crimes against humanity and war crimes. But as the trial continues, many wonder how effective the Tribunal will be in achieving national reconciliation, one of the goals of the project. Two major problems are allegations of corruption related to Tribunal funds and the limited number of indictments.

The corruption charges against the Cambodian government concern misuse of Tribunal funds, which were mostly donated by other countries. News reports are available here [2] and here [3] as well as an interview with the lawyer defending Nuon Chea, one of the defendants awaiting trial, posted at CAAI News Media [4].

Another issue for the Tribunal is that so few of the Khmer Rouge members will be put on trial. The scope of indictments is limited [5] to the senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

KI Media [6] posted a piece by retired professor A. Gaffar Peang-Meth from the University of Guam, in which he writes:

The trouble is, the trial of a mere five Khmer Rouge leaders for the death of about two million people in 1975-1979 is far from adequate to bring justice and national reconciliation to Cambodians, to begin healing and promote peacebuilding in the country.

Sopheap Chak [7] does not believe the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will bring justice, in part, because:

The foreign countries that supported the Khmer Rouge, or acted as the main catalyst for the emergence of this cruel regime, will not be brought to court. The tribunal’s regulations indicate clearly that only individuals who committed crimes will be tried.

Chak also does not believe the Tribunal will be able to reconcile the country:

For Cambodian society, real reconciliation will be found only when trust returns between individuals; when they can smile at and trust each other again. Thus, a national dialogue or truth commission should be set up so that people, especially the victims, can fully participate to address their suffering and their needs.