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Urgent action needed on rules for Khmer Rouge Tribunal

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FORUM-ASIA and five other organisations have issued a joint statement urging the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to adopt internal rules that satisfy international standards to hold fair and legitimate trials of Khmer Rouge human rights violators. It will also serve the ECCC in order to act as a catalyst – to strengthen the rule of law and as a model for judicial reform, which are greatly needed in Cambodia.

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia) and the Collective for Khmer Rouge Victims (CVIC-KR) strongly urge the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to adopt internal rules of procedure that satisfy international standards for the holding of fair and legitimate trials to try the senior leaders and those most responsible for crimes committed during Democratic Kampuchea. 

We view the ECCC as a last chance to provide justice to the Cambodian people for atrocities suffered during the period of 1975-79.

National and international judges and other officials of the ECCC must perform their duties with integrity, independence, and objectivity. For the proper administration of justice and to achieve the larger goals of truth, justice, reparation and peace desired by every Cambodian, it is imperative that ECCC officials put aside their political affiliations and blind adherence to their own legal systems – be they Cambodian, civil, or common law legal systems – in order to adopt the rules.

It is also hoped that the ECCC will contribute to the development of international standards and act as a catalyst for the strengthening of the rule of law and as a model for judicial reform, which are both greatly needed in Cambodia.

If these goals are to be realized, the ECCC must have comprehensive internal rules that satisfy international standards and thereby ensure the independence of the judiciary and the protection of the rights of victims (acting as witnesses or civil parties) and of the accused.

It is our strongest hope when the Review Committee meets in a couple of upcoming days (7-16 March 2007), that it will resolve disagreements about the Internal Rules and that a subsequent Plenary Session will be held immediately afterwards where all ECCC judges will adopt the internal rules.

The adoption of internal rules that satisfy international standards and universally recognized legal principles is non-negotiable and must be accomplished by April 2007 at the latest if the ECCC is to complete its trials within the mandated 3-year timeframe.

Again, CHRAC, OSJI, FIDH, Forum Asia and CVIC-KR strongly urge members of the Review Committee to declare their commitment to resolve their disagreements and strongly urge ECCC officials to adopt internal rules that conform to international standards without further delay.

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Thun Saray (Chairman of CHRAC/ADHOC), Tel: (+855)16.880.509 (Phnom Penh)
Ms. Theary C. Seng (Executive Director of CSD), Tel: (+855)12.222.552 (Phnom Penh)
Mr. David Berry (OSJI),  Tel: +1 212 548 0385 (New York)
Mr. Jean Reynaud (CVIC-KR), Tel: + (Paris)
Mr. Anselmo Lee (Forum Asia), Tel: +666818689178 (Bangkok)

See also Khmer version of this statement (in .pdf).