UN, Cambodia Fail to Resolve Strife

Times of India
January 14, 2003

The United Nations and Cambodia failed to resolve their differences over creation of special courts to try former Khmer Rouge leaders in six meetings over last eight days but reported progress saying they were now ready for second round of talks in Phnom Penh.

The Khmer Rouge, which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, is accused of killing and torturing thousands of people and special courts have been proposed to try its leaders. But Human Rights activists say the current government leaders are trying to dilute the process as many of them are former Khmer Rouge personnel.

The United Nations had cut off talks with Cambodia in February after concluding that courts as suggested by Phnom Penh would not guarantee a free and fair trial.

However, fears that time factor might make trial of Khmer Rouge leaders impossible as they are aging led the 191-member United Nations General Assembly to ask Secretary General Kofi Annan to restart the talks and report back to it by March 18.

The current talks are exploratory in nature and once they are successful, formal negotiations would take place. The UN delegation was led by its legal counsel Hans Corell and senior minister Sok An led the Cambodian delegations at the talks.

Once the officials agree on terms and powers of the international judges, the agreement would have to be approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The UN head wants a message from Hun Sen in order for him to be able to make decisions about his next steps, Corell said. Sok An said progress had been made and Cambodia would try its best to push forward the process.

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