Cambodia: Unanswered Questions


Dr Milton Osborne

The much discussed Tribunal to try former leading Khmer Rouge leaders still has not been brought into being as a stand-off continues between the Phnom Penh Government and the United Nations. What, exactly, now prevents an agreement on the form and procedures for the Tribunal is unclear, but Prime Minister Hun Sen has laid the blame for the delay squarely on Hans Corell, the United Nations' legal expert. If agreement cannot be reached with the United Nations, Hun Sen has said, Cambodia will go ahead and work within the terms of the law approved by the Cambodian Parliament to proceed with trials.

Meanwhile, as the United Nations' Special Representative for the High Commissioner on Human Rights, Peter Leuprecht, has been expressing his concerns about continuing political violence, recent killings of Sam Rainsy Party members in advance of the February 2002 commune elections have been condemned by local and international human rights organisations as acts of intimidation. As is so often the case in Cambodia, proof of such allegations is hard to come by. As the year drew to a close, questions were being asked about the use of World Bank funds that have been committed for the demobilisation of Cambodia's military forces. There is broad agreement that the official size of the Cambodian military is grossly overstated and that payments made for the maintenance of 'ghost soldiers' go into the pockets of corrupt civil and military officials. Beyond this, there is no certainty as to exactly how large the military forces are and mystery surrounds the manner in which the US$42 million provided to pay for demobilisation is actually being spent.

WATCHPOINT: Increased political violence is possible in the run-up to the February 2002 commune elections.


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