Re: Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI)

Re: Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI)

To: Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister; and others

From: C. Morris, BA, LLB, LLM, Cambodia Country Monitor, LRWC

Date: 2007-04-06

We have received information concerning the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a US-based international organization, which has been monitoring the work of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). We have been aware that in February 2007 the OSJI called for an investigation into some allegations of financial irregularities at the ECCC. We are also aware of the concern expressed by the Cambodian ECCC judges that OSJI allegations were incorrect and affirming their independence from government officials and that they are aware that their position requires the highest level of professional responsibility. We were pleased to see reports that the ECCC administration and the OSJI were willing to discuss the concerns in order to resume their working relationship. We have been hoping that the concerns of everyone concerned will be thoroughly addressed through a fair, impartial and transparent investigation of the allegations so that all the facts of the matter can be established and appropriate safeguards put in place if required.

Therefore, we were concerned when we received a report dated March 29, 2007, that OSJI staff members had received information that the government of Cambodia was considering expulsion of OSJI from Cambodia and revocation of OSJI staff visas because of a concern that the Cambodian government had been insulted.

Unfortunately, the alleged threat of expulsion has had the effect of raising international concerns about the Royal Government of Cambodia’s commitment to the independent monitoring of the ECCC. It also reinforces existing concerns about the situation of international human rights in Cambodia, particularly some ongoing concerns about freedom of expression and other principles contained in the Constitution of Cambodia and the international Covenants and Agreements it has signed and ratified. We particularly draw your attention to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 41 of Cambodia’s Constitution. In addition, we draw your attention to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by consensus of the General Assembly in 1998, which sets out standards to protect human rights workers including independent monitors of courts and court administration.

If the report concerning possible OSJI expulsion and revocation of visa is accurate, we respectfully urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to reconsider its approach to OJSI, which, according to OSJI information is intended only to foster the independence and fairness of the ECCC. The government of Cambodia, the ECCC Cambodian judges are reported to share this goal, which goal is also shared by the United Nations. We also respectfully urge that your government provide assurances that you are taking all possible steps towards immediate reassurance and guarantees of the independence of the ECCC and its administration.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns. We look forward to your response.