Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Hun Sen limits tribunal's remit, wants rights office shut

via CAAI

Oct 27, 2010

Phnom Penh - Cambodia on Wednesday told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that the international war crimes court would only be allowed to prosecute four Khmer Rouge leaders currently in custody.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said the UN-backed court would not be allowed to try another five suspects currently under investigation.

The government previously said that trying more suspects for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge movement, responsible for an estimated 2 million deaths in the 1970s, could destabilize Cambodia.

Prime Minister Hun Sen also told Ban that he wanted the UN to close its local human rights office and to dismiss country director Christophe Peschoux, Khieu Kanharith said.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters that Peschoux should be sacked on the grounds that he was a 'mouthpiece' for the political opposition.

A UN spokesman was not available to comment on either subject.

Also on Wednesday police dispersed dozens of people facing eviction who had gathered on the roads on which Ban's motorcade was travelling.

Residents from the Boeung Kak lake area in central Phnom Penh had earlier submitted a petition to the UN requesting that Ban meet with them to discuss efforts to evict them from land many have lived on for decades.

The site was leased to a company linked to a senator from the ruling Cambodian People's Party. Hundreds of people have already been evicted, and thousands more have been told they will lose their homes.

Aimee Brown, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Phnom Penh, said Ban knew about requests to meet him, but said his office had not yet decided on whether he would do so.

'He's definitely aware that there are protestors, and he is aware of the petitions that have been received,' Brown said.

Land-grabbing and evictions are an issue in Cambodia, with tens of thousands of people thrown off their land in recent years as values rocketed. On Monday Human Rights Watch called on Ban to address the issue during his visit.

Ban arrived in Phnom Penh late Tuesday and was scheduled to visit the tribunal Wednesday. Earlier this year, the court convicted former Khmer Rouge security chief Comrade Duch of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The UN chief is scheduled to depart on Thursday for Vietnam, where he will attend a summit between the United Nations and the regional Association of South-East Asian Nations bloc. He will conclude his current Asian tour in China.

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