Who Should be Running for Cover?
Although the judges stopped short of addressing the “instigators” by the name, these persons and institutions’ names are well-known to any tribunal watcher.
Who then should be lawyering up or running for cover? The aforementioned defense lawyers can rest reassured – barring unforeseeable circumstances – that the immunity from prosecution granted to them by the ECCC Law in the exercise of their office will be respected. The OSI and the CSD – along with the NGOs which have supported its claim – are, on the other hand, not statutorily protected from prosecution in the exercise of their office, although they are guarded by the thin shield of freedom of speech. It is also worth noting that the judges do not seem to have expressed the intent of bringing a legal action against the NGOs, but “individuals” who they believe are responsible for “provoking [the] problems”. This may mean that this threat of legal action must be read as having been issued against the staff of the Cambodian office of the OSI, the staff of the CSD and the staff of the Cambodian offices of the local and international NGOs which have supported the OSI’s original claim as individuals, not institutions.
The present conditions in which the aforementioned NGOs will have to work until this matter is resolved one way or the other puts the Japanese government’s “no questions asked” policy of funding of international development (see below on this blog) into perspective.