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

Monday, 11 February, 2002, 11:24 GMT
Cambodia urges UN rethink on trials
Genocide museum
Cambodians are trying to come to terms with the past
Cambodia is urging the United Nations to reconsider its decision to withdraw its support for a planned tribunal to try Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity.

The Prime Minister, Hun Sen, said the door was still open for the UN, but that Cambodia "cannot wait forever".

We cannot leave the issue half-way

Prime Minister Hun Sen
The UN announced on Friday it was withdrawing support for a joint tribunal because the court's impartiality could not be guaranteed.

The decision came ahead of Tuesday's UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague to try former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic for genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1990s.

Foreign diplomats and Cambodians have expressed shock at the UN's decision to pull out of the Cambodia tribunal. 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.

Display of skulls at a genocide museum
Some Cambodians fear a trial will divide the country
During the "killing fields" regime, 1.7 million people died through execution, torture, starvation and hard labour.

A key 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.

There was also disagreement on who should go on trial - Cambodia wants to restrict prosecution to about 10 selected Khmer Rouge figures.

Leaders detained

Hun Sen has said Cambodia is determined to press ahead with plans for a tribunal. He told reporters he might ask individual nations for help if the UN refused to change its mind.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen
Hun Sen was a junior Khmer Rouge commander
"We cannot leave the issue half-way," he said. "The law must be implemented."

The United States, Australia and the UK are among the countries urging the UN to resume negotiations with Cambodia.

Hun Sen also revealed plans to extend the detentions of the only two Khmer Rouge figures in detention until a tribunal can be set up.

Under the current detention period, former army chief Ta Mok, also known as "The Butcher", can be held without trial until March, and Kang Kek Lue - the head of the S-21 torture and execution centre - can be held until May.

The two have been held for nearly three years.

Hun Sen is one of several government ministers with a Khmer Rouge background, though he has not been implicated in any humanitarian crimes.

See also:

09 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Cambodia defies UN over genocide court
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