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  Cambodia: Trials Ahead

The International Crisis Group (ICG) releases today a new assessment of the situation in Cambodia almost a decade after the end of the country’s long and bloody civil war.

Cambodia has come a long way since the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, but it remains replete with lawlessness, human rights abuse and grinding poverty. The government has pledged itself to an ambitious agenda for political reform and social welfare, but to many this commitment is simply not serious.

The key recommendation of the ICG report, Cambodia: The Elusive Peace Dividend, is that the international donor community do much more to hold the Cambodian government to its promises. Donors should work closely with each other, and with Cambodian non-governmental organisations, to more effectively press the government to honour its commitments – particularly in governance reform, land policy, army demobilisation and the conduct of elections.

A critical test for the government will be its handling of the proposed trials of Khmer Rouge leaders. ICG supports the process now under negotiation with the UN, for trials under Cambodian domestic jurisdiction but with international participation.

But, as the report argues, this can only be on the firm condition of all living first-level Cambodian leaders being rigorously investigated. And the international judges and prosecutors have to be able to have real impact and influence on the trial process. They can’t just be figureheads: no trial at all would be better than that.


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