Cambodia debates draft law for Khmer Rouge trial

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Mon Jan 1 19:13:08 MST 2001


Saturday
30 December 2000

Cambodia debates draft law for Khmer Rouge trial
PHNOM PENH: Cambodia's national assembly on Friday began debating a
long-awaited draft law to set up a genocide tribunal to try the leaders of
the brutal 1970s Khmer Rouge "killing fields" regime.
After unanimously approving the general content of the law, the national
assembly began dissecting and analysing specific parts of the bill, assembly
president Prince Norodom Ranariddh said.
Prince Ranariddh and other parliamentary leaders were optimistic all parts
of the bill could be approved within a week, paving the way for the historic
tribunal.
The national assembly goes into recess on January 15, and Prime Minister Hun
Sen has said he wants the draft law passed before then.
The process "is moving quite quickly. I have seen it move fast this morning,
so I think that we could pass it by next week," Prince Ranariddh said.
The draft law appears to have widespread support in the national assembly,
he said after parliament on Friday approved the first of the 19 parts of the
draft law.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy Friday told the assembly he completely
supported the bill, which he said satisfied all the conditions set by both
Cambodia and the United Nations.
The UN said earlier this year that any changes to the agreed draft -- which
provides for a Cambodian tribunal with a mix of foreign and local judges and
prosecutors -- would result in the world body washing its hands off the
process.
Legislative committee members said all the main points agreed on with the UN
remained intact.
The ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge is blamed for the deaths of up to 1.7 million
people when it tried to turn the country into an agrarian utopia during its
ruthless 1975-79 rule, but so far no-one has been brought to trial.
Constant delays to setting up a tribunal here have led many observers to
speculate that the government -- which has taken in a number of former Khmer
Rouge cadres -- had backed off from its initial commitment to a trial.
However, Prince Ranariddh insisted that Cambodia remained committed to the
tribunal and pledged it would work closely with the international community
to carry out the genocide trial.
He could not set a timetable for the tribunal, once the draft law is passed
however.
"I can not say how many years it will take before the first Khmer Rouge
leader will stand trial," he said.
"It takes time. It is also up to the degree of commitment of the
international community, which will have to help Cambodia to implement the
law." (AFP)

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