Pressures and pressures

[Sent to the Phnom Penh Post and the Cambodia Daily on October 11, in response to the resignation of Siegfried Blunk from his position a co-investigating judge of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, commonly called the “Khmer Rouge tribunal”. Not published by either paper.]

To some people, Justice Blunk’s response to perceived outside “pressure” on the Khmer Rouge tribunal might seem erratic. A months-long campaign by Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Wall Street Journal and innumerable hangers-on, calling for him to be forced to resign, fired, investigated and charged, appears to have had no effect on him; it is not even hinted at in his press release. But three brief statements of the Cambodian government’s attitude over the course of a year are enough to force him to resign and create another delay in the Khmer Rouge trials.

However, perhaps the seeming discrepancy can be explained. Was Justice Blunk planning, at the end of the KR trials, to apply for a job with the Cambodian government? If so, he could be seen as open to pressure to accommodate its views on Cases 003 and 004. On the other hand, if there was no possibility of him pursuing a career with governments influenced by HRW, OSJI, WSJ and so on, their pressure could not possibly affect him.

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