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Politic-Economic-Society-Tech

Cambodia defies UN over genocide court

Cambodia has said it is determined to bring former leaders of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime to trial, despite a UN decision to abandon plans for a special international court.
A statement by Cambodia's ambassador to the United Nations, Ouch Borith, rejected the UN's position on setting up an international court.

"Unfortunately, the United Nations wanted an agreement with our government which is above the existing Cambodian law," said the statement faxed to BBC News Online.

Earlier the UN legal counsel, Hans Corell, said he had concluded the independence, impartiality and objectivity of the proposed court could not be guaranteed.

"We will no longer continue the negotiations," he told a news conference.

The Cambodian statement said the Phnom Penh government "is determined to go ahead, with or without the United Nations assistance".

"It is true that the government has requested assistance from the United Nations, but it does not mean that we invite the UN to dictate to us to do this and to do what they want. They have to respect our sovereignty."

Ambassador Ouch Borith stressed that "it was the people of Cambodia and its government that ended the political and military organisation of the Khmer Rouge in 1996 and it was not the United Nations".

Killing fields

During the Khmer Rouge "killing fields" regime, 1.7 million people died through execution, torture, starvation and hard labour.


The UN has been pressing Cambodia to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to trial for atrocities carried out during their rule between 1975 and 1979.

The main sticking point in the negotiations appears to have been the Cambodian Government's insistence that national law would take precedence over the agreement with the UN in the trials.

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the court remained an important project.

"The tribunal is important to help resolve many of the issues that remain in Cambodia," he said.

"We think there are grounds for continuing their discussions".

Correspondents say the proposed trials are a divisive subject in Cambodia, with some fearful that they will reopen old wounds and plunge the country back into civil war.


Trial delay

Cambodia has been waiting for a UN decision since August last year on their proposals for a tribunal presided over by three Cambodian judges and two foreign judges.

Late last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen criticised the UN for the delay, asking for a clear "Yes or no". He said if the answer was "no", Cambodia would proceed on its own.

Critics of the tribunal say it will be a whitewash, because many of the most notorious Khmer Rouge leaders have already been given amnesty under a deal in the 1990s to end the country's long-running civil war.


Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998
.

source: 
ВВС, 09/02/2002


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