On 4 March 2014 the ECCC Co-Prosecutors proposed amendments to ECCC Internal Rules 55 and 89ter to enable crime sites and criminal incidents to be excluded from the scope of investigation or trial upon their proposal. The proposed amendments, if recommended by the Rules and Procedure Committee and adopted by the Plenary, would introduce a procedure that is that is not founded in the Cambodian civil law system and which would not respect the principle of legalism that is unquestionably applicable before the courts of Cambodia, including the ECCC. Bluntly, the Co-Prosecutors are urging the Rules and Procedure Committee and the Plenary to engage in “situational ethics” to disregard the applicable law and legal system because it does not accommodate them. The Co-Prosecutors are urging the Judges to act ultra vires. Accordingly, I have submitted observations urging the Judges to reject the Co-Prosecutors’ proposed amendments in their entirety.
Essentially, under the principle of legalism, also called prosecutorial legalism, the prosecutor must prosecute when it is clear that a crime has been committed. The prosecution has no discretion as to whether to investigate crimes known to have been committed or to drop charges once an indictment has been secured. Judges have no discretion to abandon charges: whatever is in the indictment must be tried. Continue reading “The Co-Prosecutors’ attempt to eviscerate the principle of legalism at the ECCC … and beyond”