« | Home | »

Khmer Rouge on trial (or not)

Tags: |

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia were set up in February 2009 to try the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders accused of being ‘most responsible’ for crimes committed between 1975 and 1979, when up to two million people died from starvation, torture and execution under Pol Pot’s regime. In 2010, the prison camp commander Kaing Guek Eav was given a 35-year sentence for crimes against humanity. The trial of three other Khmer Rouge leaders is ongoing. But the tribunal is in danger of being derailed by cases 003 and 004, which involve lower ranking Khmer Rouge cadres and have been subject to intense political opposition from the Cambodian government, some of whom used to belong to the Khmer Rouge. Hun Sen, the country’s leader since 1985 and a former Khmer Rouge cadre, has spoken out repeatedly against cases 003 and 004.

In October 2011, the international coinvestigating judge, Siegfried Blunk, resigned, citing statements made by the government which could be perceived as interfering with the tribunal’s work. According to Human Rights Watch, Blunk and his Cambodian counterpart, You Bunleng, had ‘failed to conduct genuine, impartial, and effective investigations into… cases 003 and 004’. After Blunk resigned, it was alleged – and denied by the tribunal – that documents in the case files had been modified and backdated, raising further questions about the tribunal’s integrity.

Then in December, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, the reserve international coinvestigating judge, was warned that he could not take up his official duties until his appointment had been confirmed by the Supreme Court of the Magistracy. Kasper-Ansermet said that he would ‘endeavour to keep the public sufficiently informed about major developments in Case Files 003 and 004’ and had been executing ‘his mandate by remote means from abroad’ since 14 November. You Bunleng responded that Kasper-Ansermet ‘must first wait for an official appointment before commencing his duties. For this reason, any procedural action taken by Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet is not legally valid.’

Last Friday, the office of the UN secretary-general said that Cambodia had breached its agreement with the UN by failing to confirm Kasper-Ansermet’s appointment. Cases 003 and 004 have effectively ground to a halt. The chances of more Khmer Rouge functionaries being brought to justice seem increasingly remote.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • name on Who is the enemy?: Simply stating it is correct doesn't make it so, I just wish you would apply the same epistemic vigilance to "Muslim crimes" as you do to their Hebrew...
    • Glen Newey on Unwinnable War: The legal issue admits of far less clarity than the simple terms in which you – I imagine quite sincerely – frame them. For the benefit of readers...
    • Geoff Roberts on The New Normal: The causes go back a long way into the colonial past, but the more immediate causes stem from the activities of the US forces in the name of freedom a...
    • sol_adelman on The New Normal: There's also the fact that the French state denied the mass drownings of '61 even happened for forty-odd years. No episode in post-war W European hist...
    • funky gibbon on At Wembley: If England get France in the quarter finals of Euro 16 I expect that a good deal of the fraternity will go out the window

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Edward Said: The Iraq War
    17 April 2003

    ‘This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology.’

    David Runciman:
    The Politics of Good Intentions
    8 May 2003

    ‘One of the things that unites all critics of Blair’s war in Iraq, whether from the Left or the Right, is that they are sick of the sound of Blair trumpeting the purity of his purpose, when what matters is the consequences of his actions.’

    Simon Wren-Lewis: The Austerity Con
    19 February 2015

    ‘How did a policy that makes so little sense to economists come to be seen by so many people as inevitable?’

    Hugh Roberts: The Hijackers
    16 July 2015

    ‘American intelligence saw Islamic State coming and was not only relaxed about the prospect but, it appears, positively interested in it.’

Advertisement Advertisement