MEDIA RELEASE

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
AUSTRALIA

D65

22 July 1998

CAMBODIA NUON PAET

We categorically reject the suggestion broadcast on the ABC's Foreign Correspondent program on 21 July 1998 that the Australian Government is not doing enough to ensure that Nuon Paet, the Khmer Rouge commander believed to be responsible for David Wilson's death, is brought to trial.

The Australian Government is deeply concerned by recent reports that Nuon Paet might be enjoying some form of protection in Cambodia, official or otherwise, as it has been previously when any such suggestions have arisen.

As it has done on every such occasion, the Australian Government has again raised its serious concerns about this report with the Cambodian authorities in the context of commitments already secured from Cambodian leaders that Nuon Paet will be arrested.

We are maintaining consistent pressure on the Cambodian Government, to make clear to all relevant Cambodian Government agencies their obligation with respect to the arrest of Nuon Paet.

We are also reminding the Cambodian authorities of the unambiguous commitments given by Cambodia's leaders that Nuon Paet will be brought to trial.

A consistent Government approach has been sustained this year, as it has since David Wilson's death.

Some examples of the Government's actions in response to reports of Nuon Paet's whereabouts, which first appeared late last year and have continued to circulate this year, are:

  • in November last year, the Australian Government asked people claiming to have knowledge of Nuon Paet's whereabouts to pass on that information so that appropriate action could be taken
  • in March this year, the Australian Government requested the Cambodian authorities to investigate reports of Nuon Paet's presence in Pailin and to remind members of the armed forces that a warrant for Nuon Paet's was in force and that they should do all in their power to apprehend him
  • in April, the Ambassador reiterated in the strongest terms to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sar Kheng, the Australian Government's expectation that the Cambodian Government would do all in its power to arrest Nuon Paet and bring him to trial
  • in May, Ambassador Leader, together with his French and British colleagues, wrote to the Cambodian Government expressing the deep concern of our Governments at reports that Nuon Paet might be living in Pailin
  • also in May, the Ambassadors called on Second Prime Minister Hun Sen to remind him of the Australian Government's firm expectation that the warrant for Paet's arrest be executed as soon as possible. Ambassador Leader again reiterated the Australian Government's unequivocal position that Nuon Paet should be brought to justice without further delay for the murder of David Wilson, Jean-Michel Braquet and Mark Slater.
  • these representations were followed up in June, in a meeting with a senior adviser to Hun Sen.

Ambassador Leader is following up reports of Nuon Paet's movements with the Director of the Judicial Police, with the Minister for Defence, and with a senior adviser to Hun Sen, to ensure that all arms of the Cambodian Government fully understand their responsibilities in securing the immediate arrest of Nuon Paet.

In response to the Australian Government's actions, Prime Ministers Ung Huot and Hun Sen have reaffirmed the Cambodian Government's intention to bring Nuon Paet to trial. Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, in particular, has spoken of his appreciation of the seriousness of this matter and of the concerns felt by the families and Governments involved. He has given a personal assurance that Nuon Paet would be pursued by the Cambodian Government. We intend to exert the maximum pressure on Mr Hun Sen and his Government to ensure that this undertaking is honoured.

Clearly the Government's action on this matter has been sustained and extensive and it was highly disappointing that this activity was mentioned in the Foreign Correspondent report in the most dismissive of terms.

Media Inquiries:

Tony Melville (02) 62611555