ECCC Reparations

This blog is designed to serve as a repository of analyses, news reports and press releases related to the issue of RERAPATIONS within the framework of the Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a.k.a. the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Historian Shares an Absurd View on Courts

Historian Philip Short was asked why CPK policy warranted abolition of courts of law. Here is his answer:

The abolition of law courts is completely logical in terms of CPK policy because the only purpose of a law court is to judge independently. The idea of anything being independent of the Party was abhorrent to the CPK. Therefore, why have law courts.

This is a very curious statement given the context of the present-day Cambodian judiciary. Lack of independence of today’s Cambodian judiciary is undisputed. In fact it is one of the very few statements that need no citation; anyone who opens any report or academic writing and will inexorably see a finding that the Cambodian judiciary is not independent. This lack of independence is one of the reasons for this Court’s having an international presence. ECCC – strange as it might sound to some – is the most independent court in the nation and even the ECCC has been lambasted for lack of independence by a number of watchdogs consistently throughout the process, including most recently by the unexpected former co-investigating-turn-watchdog, Marcel Lemonde. To give Philip Short’s above statement any credence we would somehow  find a way to accept that while courts of law have no independence now, it makes sense to the present-day government to keep them around, but the same would not have been true in 1975. The only way (the Western pressure argument would not work because courts of law were re-established during the Communist regime that succeeded the Khmer Rouge) to explain this is by presuming that the pre-1975 judges’ independence was so great and so well-known as to prevent the CPK from even trying to keep them around in a position of subservience to the executive and the modern judges are so subservient as to present no threat to the executive at all. This presumption would be absurd as Cambodia has not had an independent judiciary at any point since its independence in 1953.  This absurdity thus defines Philip Short’s statement.