BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Saturday, 9 February, 2002, 00:51 GMT
Cambodia defies UN over genocide court
Choeung Ek memorial
Nearly two million people died under the regime
Cambodia has said it is determined to bring former leaders of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime to trial, despite a UN decision to abandon plans for a special international court.

A statement by Cambodia's ambassador to the United Nations, Ouch Borith, rejected the UN's position on setting up an international court.

Khmer Rouge leaders
Pol Pot: Died in 1998
Ta Mok: The Butcher, captured and awaiting trial
Kang Kek: Chief executioner, in jail awaiting trial
Ieng Sary: Foreign minister, pardoned
Nuon Chea: Chief political theorist and "Brother Number Two", at liberty
Khieu Samphan: Public apologist, at liberty

"Unfortunately, the United Nations wanted an agreement with our government which is above the existing Cambodian law," said the statement faxed to BBC News Online.

Earlier the UN legal counsel, Hans Corell, said he had concluded the independence, impartiality and objectivity of the proposed court could not be guaranteed.

"We will no longer continue the negotiations," he told a news conference.

The Cambodian statement said the Phnom Penh government "is determined to go ahead, with or without the United Nations assistance".

"It is true that the government has requested assistance from the United Nations, but it does not mean that we invite the UN to dictate to us to do this and to do what they want. They have to respect our sovereignty."

Ambassador Ouch Borith stressed that "it was the people of Cambodia and its government that ended the political and military organisation of the Khmer Rouge in 1996 and it was not the United Nations".

Killing fields

During the Khmer Rouge "killing fields" regime, 1.7 million people died through execution, torture, starvation and hard labour.

Pol Pot
Pol Pot oversaw the genocide
The UN has been pressing Cambodia to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to trial for atrocities carried out during their rule between 1975 and 1979.

The main sticking point in the negotiations appears to have been the Cambodian Government's insistence that national law would take precedence over the agreement with the UN in the trials.

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the court remained an important project.

"The tribunal is important to help resolve many of the issues that remain in Cambodia," he said.

"We think there are grounds for continuing their discussions".

Correspondents say the proposed trials are a divisive subject in Cambodia, with some fearful that they will reopen old wounds and plunge the country back into civil war.

Trial delay

Cambodia has been waiting for a UN decision since August last year on their proposals for a tribunal presided over by three Cambodian judges and two foreign judges.

Late last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen criticised the UN for the delay, asking for a clear "Yes or no". He said if the answer was "no", Cambodia would proceed on its own.

Critics of the tribunal say it will be a whitewash, because many of the most notorious Khmer Rouge leaders have already been given amnesty under a deal in the 1990s to end the country's long-running civil war.

Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998.

The BBC's Nick Hawton
"The UN decision will disappoint many"
The BBC's Clare Arthurs
"So many of the survivors are still traumatised"
See also:

16 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Khmer Rouge leaders to stay in jail
10 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
King signs Khmer Rouge trial law
07 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Pol Pot's lieutenants
02 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Cambodia backs genocide law
14 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Pol Pot: Life of a tyrant
02 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Masters of the killing fields
13 Jan 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Cambodia: Life after death
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories