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Experts weigh the record of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal

BANGKOK – After spending nine years and more than $ 300 million to prosecuting leaders of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge responsible…

BANGKOK – After spending nine years and more than $ 300 million to prosecuting leaders of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million of their countrymen, a UN-assisted tribunal has ended up convicting only three people for the communist group’s heinous actions .

Was it worth it?

These kinds of proceedings do not run cheap. De langerlopende tribunals die betrekking hebben op genocide in Rwanda en oorlogsmisdaden in de voormalige Joegoslavië, riepen de kosten van zo veel als $ 2 miljard – albei probeerden veel meer mensen dan zijn opgeroepen account in Cambodja voor misdaden gepleegd tijdens de 1975-79 regime of the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot.

On Friday, the tribunal convicted Nuon Chea, 92, and Khieu Samphan, 87, the last surviving Khmer Rouge leaders, or genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and sentenced them to life in prison. The only other person who has been convicted is Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, who as head of the Khmer Rouge prison system ran the infamous Tuol Sleng torture center in Phnom Penh.

Justice is the primary goal. Men internationale tribunaler, der forsøger folk anklaget for forbrydelser på nationalt plan, tjener også til at fremme menneskerettigheder og etablere et historisk rekord, blandt andre mål.

Selv de mest positive observatørerne anerkender de mangler i Cambodian tribunal, officielt kaldet Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC.

The ECCC was set up as a hybrid court, meaning every international prosecutor and judge were paired with a Cambodian counter party. Men, hvad var en politisk atmosfære som tilskrev samarbejdet, da U.N. agreement was signed in 2003 deteriorated, as democratic space has shrunk under Cambodia’s long-serving, autocratic prime minister Hun Sen.

“Hybrid courts require domestic and international partners to share the steering wheel. They tend to function well only when the two drivers want to head in the same general direction, “said John Ciorciari, a professor at the University of Michigan and co-author of a book about the tribunal. “When they do, mixed tribunals can help fill gaps in otherwise frail domestic systems. When interests clash, these efforts to share sovereignty are prone to crash.”

The main case in point: Hun Sen &#821

1; himself a former Khmer Rouge commander Who defected from the group when it was in power – declaring no more suspects should be prosecuted, saying without justification that such action could cause unrest.

It did not help that the UN akkoord vage formulering of wie zou kunnen worden gericht voor vervolging – senior Khmer Rouge leiders en degenen die verantwoordelijk zijn voor de atrocities – bleek te zijn meer restrictief dan open-ended.

“Alle tribunals of this character have political restraints, and so that is not unique to the ECCC, “said David Scheffer, a law professor at Northwestern University and former US ambassador at great for war crimes. Andre punkter han nævnte at forsinkelsen af ​​procedurerne omfattede beskyttelse af due processrettigheder og den usædvanlige kombination af en civilretlig undersøgelsesretlig retssag ved siden af ​​en fælles rets prosecutorisk model.

“Man kan altid overbevise om mere bliver færdig,” sagde Scheffer, who also served as the UN’s special expert on assistance to the Khmer Rouge trials. “

Nevertheless, he gave high marks to the tribunal’s performance, saying its main contribution has been both domestic and international justice rendered against some of the major figures in the Pol Pot regime .

“The Cambodian people sought justice and the ECCC delivered a significant measure of it,” Scheffer said in an email interview. “The ECCC also established a historical record, albeit not comprehensive, that otherwise would not have been uncovered.”

Adama Dieng, the U.N. Specialist on the prevention of genocide, also said Friday’s convictions showed that “justice will prevail, and that impunity should never be accepted for genocide and other atrocity crimes.”

Political education is an area where the tribunal has succeeded, said Heather Ryan, who has monitored the trials for the Open Society Justice Initiative, an independent international human rights organization.

“The court has made a huge contribution to helping the world and Cambodians better understand what happened during the Khmer Rouge regime,” said Ryan. “

The observers were less impressed.

Theary Seng, a US-trained lawyer, writer and political analyst based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, who is an outspoken critic of Hun Sen’s government, called the tribunal “a complete failure for international justice” because it did not achieve any of the established goals

Seng, whose parents were killed by the Khmer Rouge, pointed out that the hope that at least some of the Cambodian judges, prosecutors and lawyers would become the government in the tribunal champions of judicial fairness and the rule of law has been the opposite of fulfilled: they have all been deeply implicated in government abuse and perversion of the domestic justice

It is likely that the voluminous documentation used by the tribunal will be handed over to the government or institution controlled by the tribunal. the government, she said.

“This means that the printed documents could be selectively destroyed and the electronic version could be subtly altered,” she warned. “Future researchers writing the history of Cambodia will not know what’s what.”

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