Cambodian ‘Justice’: Without major personnel changes, the Khmer Rouge trial risks descending into farce

By SOPHAL EAR

While my mother, four siblings and I escaped Pol Pot’s Cambodia in 1976, my father died of dysentery and malnutrition after a brief stay at a mite-infested Khmer Rouge “hospital.” Although I have harbored grave doubts about the ability of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal underway in Phnom Penh to punish the guilty, I hoped for the best and even filed a civil complaint with the Tribunal’s victims unit last year.

But I can no longer in good conscience sit back in silence and watch this theater of the absurd. As with so many other donor-financed projects, the Tribunal—set up in 2006 to bring justice to millions of Khmer Rouge victims—has been mired in an endless stream of corruption and mismanagement allegations.

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David Klein

The latest news came on August 11, when Uth Chhorn was named to the court as an independent counselor. Mr. Chhorn is Cambodia’s auditor-general and heads the seven-year-old National Audit Authority, which is supposed to audit the government’s activities. It has yet to make a single report public. His appointment was sanctioned by the United Nations, which manages the court alongside the Cambodian government.

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