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On Cambodia Genocide Court & UN Quittings in Protests, Ban Ki-moon Puts Off Substantive Comment for 2d Term

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 14 -- A week after Ban Ki-moon on June 6 met with the Asia Group of states at the UN seeking a second term as Secretary General, controversy swirled around the dropping of a genocide case by the UN affiliated Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

  On June 13, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: a number of international staff have left because the third case was sort of suspended without investigation by the judges. So, it says, this is what I wanted to ask you, it said that these staff members wrote to the Secretary-General before they quit. I wanted to know if that’s true and I wanted to know what he thinks, given the controversy that surrounded his visit to Cambodia; does he have any comment at all on what is viewed as sort of disorder in the court or shutting down of the inquiry into the Khmer Rouge era there?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Probably a little later today, Matthew.

During Ban's trip to Cambodia last October, Hun Sen spoke of the removal of the head of the UN human rights office in Phnom Penh, Christophe Peschoux. Ban offered little defense of him. Nesirky called it “an internal personnel matter” and when Peschoux left earlier this year, Nesirky's office through his deputy Farhan Haq had “no comment at this time,” or since.

  But on June 13 a comment was promised, and 24 hours it was issued -- a statement on the ECCC. The statement is long and detailed but is hardly responsive to the human rights and accountability questions raised. As on Peschoux, it says that Ban's UN will “not comment on internal United Nations administrative or staffing processes.”

   Eschewing comment, it says that public scrutiny will come at some unspecified later date. Ban is expected, with Asia Group support, to get a second five year term as Secretary General on June 16 in the Security Council, then June 21 in the General Assembly.

Ban in Cambodia,
Peschoux and Ban follow through on human rights & ECCC not shown

 Here is the statement:


Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Support for the independence of the judiciary is a fundamental principle that the United Nations upholds in Cambodia as elsewhere. The judges and prosecutors at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) must be allowed to function free from external interference by the Royal Government of Cambodia, the United Nations, donor States, and civil society.

It follows that the United Nations categorically rejects media speculation that we have instructed the Co-Investigating Judges to dismiss Case 003. It similarly follows that the United Nations will not comment on issues which remain the subject of judicial consideration, nor speculate on actions that should or should not be taken by the judges or prosecutors in any case. As is normal practice, the United Nations will also not comment on internal United Nations administrative or staffing processes related to the ECCC. The United Nations will ensure that the international component of the ECCC, including the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges, has sufficient resources to undertake its work.

The announcement made by the Co-Investigating Judges on 29 April 2011 that they have decided to conclude their investigation in Case 003, is an interim procedural step. Issues related to that decision will be the subject of further consideration by the Co-Investigating Judges, the Co-Prosecutors, and the Pre-Trial Chamber. Any other proceedings that may be initiated by the Co-Investigating Judges will also be subject to the independent judicial process.

The Co-Investigating Judges are not under an obligation to provide reasons for their actions at this stage of the investigation in Case 003. Consistent with the civil law system of the Kingdom of Cambodia, judicial investigations at the ECCC are not conducted in public, and all persons participating in a judicial investigation must generally maintain confidentiality.

The Co-Investigating Judges must ultimately issue a Closing Order in Case 003 which, in relation to each suspect, either sends him or her to trial, or dismisses the case against him or her. The Closing Order must include reasons, which will appropriately be available for public scrutiny. Speculating on the content of the Closing Order at this stage does not assist the independent judicial process.

The United Nations, working closely with donor States, will continue to strongly support the work of the ECCC. The ECCC is currently preparing to commence the trial in Case 002 on 27 June 2011. The accused in case two are the four remaining leaders of the Khmer Rouge, including Khieu Samphan, the former Head of State; and Nuon Chea, ‘brother number two’ to Pol Pot. Their trial will be of true international significance, and deserves the ongoing, strong support of the international community.

New York, 14 June 2011

* * *

After Ban Ki-moon Said Stood Behind UN Rights Rep in Cambodia, His Leaving Draws No Reaction, like ECCC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 9 -- When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Cambodia last October, Prime Minister Hun Sen “ordered” him to remove the head of the UN human rights office in Phnom Penh, Christophe Peschoux.

  Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about it. Nesirky called it an “internal personnel matter,” then added that Ban stands behind the office and, by implication, its staff.

Now six months later, Peschoux has been chased from the country. Human rights groups call it “worrying.” Mr. Peschoux himself has said that in Cambodia

human rights are tolerated to the extent that they do not challenge the political, economic and financial interests of the ruling elite. That’s where the red line runs. If you cross that line, trouble starts... Of course I’m leaving because it has become impossible for me to continue to operate in this environment.”

Given this, one might have expected Ban Ki-moon to have some follow up comment, if not to have actually defended Mr. Peschoux. But when Inner City Press on May 9 asked Ban's acting deputy spokeman Farhan Haq about Peschoux's leaving Cambodia, Haq said “we do not have any comment at this stage,” nor “any reaction.”

  Back on April 12, Inner City Press had asked Haq about Cambodia:

Inner City Press: there is a lot of controversy about the UN-backed Court [Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia] there. Some are saying that the President told Ban Ki-moon that there should be no more prosecutions and that the Court should be wound down. And advocates are saying that the UN hasn’t spoken up in defence of the Court’s mandate. Does the Secretary-General have a view on whether this Court should go on in a non-politicized fashion, or, as many say, should be moving to dismiss future cases beyond those it has?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: The Secretary-General fully supports the work of the Extraordinary Chambers in Cambodia, and he believes that it is up, ultimately, to the senior officials of the Extraordinary Chambers to proceed with their work as they see fit.

Since then, concerns have only grown. Ban Ki-moon and human rights: que pasa? Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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