Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, 14 to 18 November 2018
From 14 to 19 November 2018, the United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, visited Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, to attend the delivery of the judgement by the Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Case 002/02 against NUON Chea and KHIEU Samphan, and Bangkok, Kingdom of Thailand, to open the Regional Course in International Law for Asia-Pacific.
The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, H.E. Mr. BIN Chhin, at a press stake-out following the delivery of the judgement in Case 002/02
The purpose of the mission of the United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, to Cambodia was to undertake consultations with the ECCC and the Royal Government of Cambodia in order to begin developing a framework for the completion of the work of the ECCC, and to identify residual functions which will need to be performed following the completion of its mandate. The Legal Counsel had been requested to do so by the Steering Committee of the ECCC, composed of Cambodia and the Principal Donors Group, and to report back to it by June 2019.
Mr. Serpa Soares began his programme in Phnom Penh with meetings with the Coordinator of the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT), Mr. Knut Rosandhaug, and the Acting Director of Administration, Mr. Tony Kranh, who briefed the Legal Counsel on the state of the judicial work of the ECCC.
The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, meets with the Acting Director of Administration, Mr. Tony Kranh, and the UNAKRT Coordinator, Mr. Knut Rosandhaug
While in Phnom Penh, the Legal Counsel held a number of meetings with the prosecutors and judges of the ECCC. He met with the Presidents, national and international Judges of the Pre-trial, Trial and Supreme Court Chambers and with the Co-investigating Judges, as well as with the Prosecutor, to brief them on the purpose of the mission and to hear their views about the state of the judicial work of the ECCC and possible residual functions. In his meetings with the ECCC national and international Judges, Mr. Serpa Soares stressed the importance of judicial independence and of completing the mandate of the ECCC, including cases 3 and 4, in a judicial manner. To prepare the meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, the Legal Counsel met with the State Secretary of the Council of Ministers, H.E. Mr. KEO Remy. During his visit, Mr. Serpa Soares also met with and briefed the Group of Friends of the ECCC. The national and international staff of the ECCC was invited for an exchange of views with the Legal Counsel in the framework of a Town Hall.
The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, exchanges views with ECCC staff in the framework of a Town Hall
On 15 November 2018, Mr. Serpa Soares was received by H.E. Mr. BIN Chhin, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, and Chairman of the Royal Government Task Force on the Proceedings of the ECCC. Messrs. BIN and Serpa Soares discussed the financing of the ECCC. Mr. BIN gave assurances that the Royal Government of Cambodia will continue to shoulder its part of the responsibility for the financing of the ECCC. Mr. Serpa Soares noted that the Secretary-General requested another subvention for the ECCC from the General Assembly and was cautiously optimistic that the subvention would be considered favourably by the General Assembly and its budgetary subsidiaries, thereby ensuring financial stability for the ECCC through 2019. Messrs. BIN and Serpa Soares further had a preliminary discussion regarding possible judicial and non-judicial residual functions. They agreed that consultations on residual functions would be followed by at the working level. Messrs. BIN and Serpa Soares further agreed that the mandate of the ECCC must be completed with “pride and honour” fully respecting judicial independence and that the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia will work as partners and in solidarity towards this end. At the end of the meeting the traditional joint statement by the principals was issued.
The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, H.E. Mr. BIN Chhin
On 16 November 2018, the Trial Chamber of the ECCC delivered the judgement in Case 002/02 against NUON Chea and KHIEU Samphan and read a summary of the judgement. The defendants were each convicted of a number of counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide against the Vietnamese population. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment. The significance of this judgement is the conviction of both defendants for the commission of the crime of genocide. In addition, Mr. NUON Chea was also convicted of genocide against the Cham, a Muslim minority in Cambodia. The judgement contains relevant new jurisprudence that will be important for international criminal justice in general, in particular with regard to genocide against a religious minority. Following the delivery of the judgement, Deputy Prime Minister BIN and Legal Counsel Serpa Soares delivered statements at a press stake-out. The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide have issued statements on this occasion.
Bangkok, Kingdom of Thailand, 19 November 2018
On 19 November 2018, Mr. Serpa Soares opened the Regional Course in International Law (RCIL) for Asia-Pacific on the premises of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand.
The United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, opens the RCIL for Asia-Pacific with ESCAP Executive Secretary, Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, and the Director-General of the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, Mr. Chirdchu Raktabutr
Upon arrival at ESCAP, Mr. Serpa Soares was received by the Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, for a courtesy meeting, during which Mr. Serpa Soares congratulated Ms. Alisjahbana on her recent appointment and expressed his gratitude for making ESCAP premises available for the RCIL for Asia-Pacific. Mr. Serpa Soares also held a courtesy meeting with the Director-General of the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, Mr. Chirdchu Raktabutr, during which Mr. Serpa Soares thanked Mr. Raktabutr for generously hosting the RCIL for Asia-Pacific in the Kingdom of Thailand and for the kind hospitality extended to the faculty and students of the RCIL as well as to OLA staff. In his opening remarks, the Legal Counsel stressed the importance of the Regional Courses in International Law as the cornerstones of the United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.
The Family Photo of the 2018 RCIL for Asia-Pacific