Monday, August 9, 2010

For most Cambodians, 'justice' has little meaning

Associated Press/Washington Post
August 9, 2010

A Khmer Rouge prison chief who oversaw crimes of savagery a generation ago is told he will spend the next 19 years in jail: That's the same sentence that many low-level drug dealers, women who shoot their husbands after a lifetime of abuse and political scapegoats receive.

Far from providing closure from the trauma of the "killing fields" regime, the sentence given to Kaing Guek Eav, or Duch, seen by many as too lenient, has become another occasion to scrutinize the shortcomings of the country's criminal justice system.

For decades, the rich and powerful have enjoyed near impunity, while those who have neither money to pay off corrupt police and judges, nor political or military ties, end up in jail, sometimes for years.

For many Cambodians, the word justice has little meaning.