០៤ វិច្ឆិកា ២០២២ / 04 November 2022 - Article in English
អត្ថបទជាភាសាអង់គ្លេស សរសេរដោយលោក សម រង្សុី ក្នុងទស្សនាវដ្តីអន្តរជាតិ NIKKEI ASIA។
Sam Rainsy's Op-ed in NIKKEI ASIA, 04 November 2022
CAMBODIA GOT LITTLE JUSTICE OUT OF KHMER ROUGE TRIBUNAL
ប្រជារាស្ត្រខ្មែរ មិនបានទទួលយុត្តិធម៌ត្រឹមត្រូវទេ ពីតុលាការកាត់ទោសពួកខ្មែរក្រហម
HUN SEN REGIME KEPT GENOCIDE INQUIRY ON TIGHT LEASH TO PROTECT ITSELF
ហ៊ុន សែន ដែលជាអតីតមេទ័ពខ្មែរក្រហម មិនអនុញ្ញាតឲ្យតុលាការស៊ើបអង្កេតច្រើនពេកទេ ពីការសម្លាប់រង្គាល ពីព្រោះខ្លាចគេដឹងការពិត ធ្វើឲ្យគាត់បាត់បង់អំណាចគាត់បច្ចុប្បន្ន
A single court could never deliver full justice for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge, which was responsible for the deaths of up to 2 million Cambodians during its reign of terror from 1975 to 1979.
The tragedy of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the special international tribunal set up to handle trials of Khmer Rouge leaders, is that it was prevented from even trying to do so.
This was because former Khmer Rouge leaders were able to decide which cases would go to trial and which would remain buried. Despite costing more than $300 million, the ECCC only convicted three people before closing its final session in September: Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and prison warden Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch.
The idea that Cambodia's genocide was the work of a small handful is clearly absurd. But this fiction has allowed Prime Minister Hun Sen and his allies to escape their own responsibility under cover of the idea of a tiny genocidal clique.
The ECCC was presented as a hybrid court that was both international and Cambodian. This description was always fictional as Cambodian judges, controlled by the government, retained a veto over which cases would be prosecuted.
Running the clock down was an easy way to ensure the ECCC made little headway. Years of negotiations between the U.N. and Hun Sen's regime were needed even before the agreement to establish the ECCC was signed in 2003.
Even then, amid wrangling over its operating rules, it did not hold its first hearing until 2009. Cambodian staff went on strike in 2013 after not receiving their salaries for months.
All those years, perpetrators, witnesses and survivors were getting older and dying.
But wrangling between Phnom Penh and foreign governments over funding for the ECCC was a perennial issue. Megan Hirst, one of the senior lawyers appointed to represent survivors and victims, resigned her position in June, citing inadequate funding to meet with her ostensible clients.
For reasons Hirst said were never explained, she and her team were expected to raise their own operating funds outside the ECCC's budget. This was inconsistent with the practice of other such international tribunals, Hirst said in her resignation letter.
The reason was of course political. The Cambodian government had made a conscious decision to effectively limit access to justice and the court's ability to ask awkward questions.
Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia since 1985, is among those who fought for the Khmer Rouge's vision of pure agrarian communism. He has always sought to obscure the considerable continuity between Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge and his own regime.
Due to its extremely limited prosecution activity, the ECCC made impunity seem normal in Cambodia. This was hugely beneficial for Hun Sen who has been known to use deadly violence to stamp out perceived threats to his regime.
Early hopes that the ECCC experience would lead to an improvement in Cambodia's own courts have proved unfounded as the judiciary remains firmly under government control.
No amount of working with foreign lawyers can help a judicial system that cannot assert its independence from the executive. All that happens is judges become more technically proficient in discharging their essentially political function.
Hun Sen joined the Khmer Rouge in 1970. Among its cadres, he was comparatively well-educated and in the jungle reportedly taught illiterate fighters to read.
He soon became a platoon commander, and after the Khmer Rouge took power in Phnom Penh in 1975, Hun Sen became chief of staff of a special regiment in eastern Cambodia. Human Rights Watch has gathered witness accounts stating that troops under Hun Sen's authority were responsible for the brutal repression of dissent among the Muslim Cham minority.
Other former Khmer Rouge cadres carried along the culture of violence and impunity into senior roles under Hun Sen.
Chea Sim, who served as president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, was responsible for political killings, especially of members of ethnic minorities, according to Human Rights Watch. Hor Namhong, who became foreign minister, was in charge of a Khmer Rouge prison camp. Meas Mut, who headed up the Khmer Rouge-era navy, and Sou Met who was in charge of the air force, became defense ministry advisers.
I do not point out these realities out of hatred or a desire for vengeance. Many Cambodians find that leaving the Khmer Rouge period as a closed book is the only way to survive.
Even now, genuine forgiveness and reconciliation between Cambodians may still be possible in some cases, depending on the feelings of victims' families. But many families still do not know who was responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.
Before it is possible to think about forgiveness, someone has to apologize. You have to know who you are being asked to forgive.
Sam Rainsy, a former Cambodian finance minister, is a leading member of the country's opposition movement.