The Khmer Rouge in the Dock

These days suspected war criminals - from Rwanda to Serbia to Sierra Leone - are in the dock. Dozens are still on the run, but hope remains that they, too, will face justice. This is not true of the perpetrators of the Cambodian genocide of the 1970's. They remain free, and nobody is looking for them.

A quarter of Cambodia's population of eight million was executed, starved to death, or succumbed to disease during the Khmer Rouge's rule from 1975-79. There has been no real trial, no truth commission, and no official acknowledgement of one of the most heinous crimes in human history.

As a result, many Cambodians born since 1979 do not understand the scope and gravity of the atrocities. Meanwhile, the anguish and sorrow of survivors - almost all of whom lost loved ones - have not found redress.

This may be about to change. A year ago, the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia agreed in principle to establish an "Extraordinary Chambers" composed of Cambodian and international prosecutors and judges to investigate and try the "senior leaders of Democratic Kampuchea and those who were most responsible for crimes" under Khmer Rouge rule. Ratification of the agreement has been delayed by the stalemate among Cambodia's bickering political parties following last year's elections. But a breakthrough appears close.