Global Policy Forum

Special Tribunal for Cambodia

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Picture Credit: Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

The Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia in 1975 and killed more than a million people during its four year rule. When the Khmer Rouge were ousted in 1979 by forces from neighboring Vietnam, the United States supported the Khmer Rouge exiles and assured their continuing seat in the United Nations. US backing for the Khmer Rouge kept Cambodian politics in a turmoil and prevented the pursuit of justice for the mass killings.

Finally, on March 17, 2003, the United Nations reached a draft agreement with the Cambodian government for an international criminal tribunal, the so called Extraordinary Cambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), to try former Khmer Rouge leaders. The agreement came after five years of negotiations and 24 years after the Khmer Rouge were driven from power. The Cambodia Tribunal consists of both Cambodian and international judges, and has exclusive jurisdiction over selected crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979.

The Tribunal faces many delays in its work due to political interference by the Cambodian government, corruption and funding problems. To date, only one person has been indicted. One person has been tried, Kang Kek Iew, but he is currently appealing his sentence. Critics claim that time is running out for justice to be served as all defendants are over the age of 70.

This page follows the investigations, indictments and proceedings of the Tribunal.


 

Articles

2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007| 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | Archive 

 2011

One of the Darkest Chapters of the 20th Century up for Trial (November 16, 2011)

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) is preparing for the trial of three senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, which was responsible for wiping out 1.7 millions Cambodians, a quarter of the population, from 1975-1979. Nearly every Cambodian alive lost family members under the Khmer Rouge and many lacks confidence in the UN-backed court, believing it will fail to bring justice to the victims. In addition, the multi-million ECCC also faces a credibility crisis due to allegations of political interference by the Cambodian government. (Reuters)

Khmer Rouge Tribunal Judge Resigns Citing Political Interference (October 11, 2011)

Siegfried Blunk, the controversial judge from the UN backed Extraordinary Cambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has resigned from the tribunal. Blunk argued that his position had become unsustainable because Cambodian politicians were interfering with the investigations. However, Blunk and his co-investigating judge, You Bunleng, have been accused of doing the government’s bidding. Several human rights organizations have called for the judges’ resignation, on the basis that they have “failed to carry out genuine, impartial and effective investigations.” (Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

Tribunal Judge Sees At Least Two Years of Trials Ahead (July 27, 2011)

Siegfried Blunk, the international investigative judge for the genocide trial in the Extraordinary Cambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) genocide trial has stated that he expects proceedings to go on until 2012. The case has already been postponed several times due to the heavy preparations for the trial, including locating and collecting statements from 700 witnesses. The chance of a successful trial is diminished with every delay because of the high ages of the defendants. (Voice of America)

Groups fear Khmer Rouge Tribunal may halt trails (May 5, 2011)

Groups fear that the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) will ”prematurely” end its operations and abandon plans to try the remaining former Khmer Rouge leaders. The tribunal has faced many delays due to political interference, corruption and funding problems, and to date only two people have been tried. As the Co-Prosecutors and Co-Investigating Judges continue to publically battle among themselves, their actions undermine the integrity and the legitimacy of the ECC is being challenged, preventing true justice for the victims of the Khmer Rouge Regime. (Cbsnews.com)


2010

Cambodia: What Next for the Extraordinary Chambers? (October 29, 2010)

What constitutes success in prosecuting war crimes?  While "justice" is the automatic response, legal justice may differ considerably from justice as conceived by victims of war crimes.  Courts that prosecute war crimes, such as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, must satisfy these dual concepts of justice to be successful and credible.  Legal justice requires procedural standards, such as due process.  The peoples' justice, however, depends on the context in which the crimes were committed and providing closure for victims.  For example, it may be satisfied by public acknowledgment that a wrong was committed, or when the people perceive that perpetrators have been punished appropriately. (Crimes of War Project)

Some Justice for Cambodia (July 27, 2010)

During the "Cambodian genocide," the Khmer Rouge was responsible for the death of over 1.7 million people.  Although the tragedy occurred three decades ago, little has been done to punish the perpetrators of these crimes.  For the first time since the regime was overthrown, a UN-backed tribunal has tried and convicted a major Khmer Rouge figure, Kaing Guek Eav, of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Many Cambodians are disappointed because he was not given a life sentence.  However, this decision marks a small step in the right direction: towards securing justice for the victims of this atrocity. (New York Times)

Recent Developments at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (March 2010)

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) was set up in 2003 to try former Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for international crimes committed between 1975 and 1979. This report highlights the most significant challenges currently facing the ECCC: political interference, a failure to adequately address corruption, and fundraising. Each requires intervention at senior levels by the government of Cambodia, the UN, and the diplomatic community. According to this report, the UN should immediately appoint a permanent senior advisor at the Assistant Secretary General level to deal effectively with these issues. (Open Society Institute)

Cambodia's Court at a Crossroads (March 2, 2010)

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is about to release its first landmark verdict against Kaing Guek Eav (Alias Duch), a former prison chief and executioner during the Khmer Rouge regime. A second trial is about to start this year or next against the four most senior surviving Khmer Rouge leaders. According to James Goldston, the ECCC has so far brought important, but limited justice to the Cambodian people. He questions, whether the ECCC is able hand down any more verdicts, as the Cambodian government keeps meddling in the trials and major donors might stop funding the court. Goldston offers the United Nations several proposals to reform the ECCC and urges the United States to step up its engagement with the court. (Wallstreet Journal)

2009

Cambodia's First War Crimes Trial Marred by Flaws (December 6, 2009)

The trial of former Khmer Rouge leader "Duch" ended with a twist. For nine months, Duch followed the defense strategy crafted by his French lawyer Francois Roux, pleading guilty and apologizing to his victims. But in the trial's final moments, Duch and his Cambodian lawyer reversed the defense line, disputing the legitimacy of the court and calling for Duch's immediate release. The implosion of Duch's defense team highlights the rifts in the complex tribunal, a fragile coalition of domestic and international judges, lawyers and administrators. (Los Angeles Times)

Cambodia's Trials Revisited (September 23, 2009)

This episode of Al Jazeera's "People & Power" programme critically assesses the work of the UN-backed tribunal created to try former members of the Khmer Rouge. It points to the tribunal's failure to reach out to Cambodian people, which is partly due to its secretive methods of work and partly to the disconnection between the city and the countryside - more than 90% of the Cambodian population live in rural zones with little to no access to television or radio. Accusations of corruption and politically motivated decisions are also affecting the tribunal's credibility. (Al Jazeera)

Trial Begins for Khmer Rouge Leader (February 16, 2009)

30 years after the end of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia the first leader responsible for an estimated 1.5 million deaths will stand trial. 66 year old Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, will be charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and murder. Four other senior Khmer rouge officials are also in prison awaiting trial. (New York Times)

Khmer Rouge Leader May Be Tried in March (January 7, 2009)

After 30 years leaders of the Khmer Rouge are awaiting trial in March 2009. The regime, under which 1.7 million Cambodians lost their lives, has enjoyed impunity because the US and China have blocked efforts to bring the responsible leaders to justice. (Washington Post)

2008

Getting Away With Murder: The Khmer Rouge Tribunal (November 11, 2008)

The task of the Special Tribunal for Cambodia is to try senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime who are most responsible for violations of international law in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. This mandate excludes accountability for the US and China, which supported the Khmer Rouge with millions of dollars, weapons and secret aerial bombings so the Vietnamese backed Cambodian government could be overthrown. (Peace & Conflict Monitor)

Victims in Emotional, Legal Limbo over Participation at the KR Trial (September 11, 2008)

This Phnom Penh Postarticle argues that the Special Tribunal for Cambodia attempts to minimize the rights of victims who want to take part in criminal proceedings against former Khmer Rouge leaders. The court forces victims to participate in group hearings with a single lawyer as separate victim participation overburdens the court, which does not have sufficient funds to provide individual lawyers to all the victims.

Cambodian Court Fights Time in Trying Aging Khmer Rouge Leaders (August 5, 2008)

Victims of the 1970s Cambodian genocide fear that the aging Khmer Rouge leaders awaiting trial will not be brought to justice and that the victims will not have a chance to tell their story. But, the Cambodian government accuses Western countries of imposing the Tribunal on Cambodia saying "people in France and the US try to teach us to think that we need a trial to deal with the past." The government believes the Tribunal is unnecessary, saying Cambodia is a Buddhist society that just wants "a blank page." (Bloomberg)

Cambodian Genocide Tribunal Running Out of Money (June 25, 2008)

The Special Tribunal for Cambodia faces economic difficulties months before its first trial begins. The tribunal's estimated budget nearly tripled to $143 million, and following numerous delays in court proceedings the tribunal is struggling to find donors. So far, only Japan responded to requests for additional funds, making Japan the court's largest donor. Many Cambodians fear that the former Khmer Rouge officials awaiting trial might die before facing justice if trial proceedings delay again. (Los Angeles Times)

Cambodia: Whose Tribunal Is It Anyway? (February 18, 2008)

The US, Britain and China supported the Khmer Rouge during the cold war by providing troop assistance to the regime and allowing Cambodia to retain its seat in the United Nations General Assembly. This Spiked article argues that the same countries that supported the regime before are now advocates of the Cambodia Tribunal because they find the Cambodian legal system too corrupt and "inexperienced." (Spiked)

Victims Seek Answers (February 4, 2008)

The proceedings by the Special Tribunal for Cambodia against five former Khmer Rouge leaders started in February 2008. After the Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown, the country did not address the atrocities committed, but chose an "uneasy peace" over "eye-for-an-eye retribution." This article reports that nearly 30 years later, many Cambodians look to the Special Tribunal for Cambodia for answers, not revenge. (Baltimore Sun)

No Redemption - The Failing Khmer Rouge Trial (2008)

The trial against former Khmer Rouge leaders at the Special Tribunal for Cambodia does not solve the country's existing problems of poverty, corruption and national trauma. The Cambodian government faces allegations of hiring unqualified staff and using donations for private purposes. Moreover, because many of the judges still have ties to the Khmer Rouge regime, an impartial and fair trial will be unlikely. (Harvard International Review)

2007

Top Khmer Rouge Leader Charged (November 19, 2007)

The Special Tribunal for Cambodia indicted its fifth Khmer Rouge leader, Khieu Samphan. The tribunal charged Samphan, a close confidant of Khmer Rouge founder Pol Pot, with crimes against humanity committed between 1975 and 1979. His detention completes the initial group of the tribunal's suspects, whose trials will likely beginning in 2008. Unfortunately, some of the regime's elderly leaders, such as Pol Pot, died before facing justice. (BBC)

Key Khmer Rouge Figures Charged (November 12, 2007)

Cambodian police arrested two members of the Khmer Rouge - the former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith. The International Criminal Court charged the couple as leaders of the regime that killed and tortured civilians, diplomats and intellectuals between 1975 and 1979 in Cambodia. Prosecutors for the Cambodian tribunal at the ICC said they have enough evidence to prove that both Iengs helped to plan, direct and co-ordinate forced labor and illegitimate executions. The ICC has previously arrested two other Khmer Rouge leaders before the Iengs. (BBC)

Witness to Khmer Rouge Brutality to Testify at Trial (October 26, 2007)

A former Khmer Rouge photographer will give evidence at the trial of his commander at the Tuol Sleng prison, Kaing Guek Eav or "Duch," who is charged with crimes against humanity. Up to 5 former Khmer Rouge leaders face trial before the international tribunal in Cambodia. The witness, Nhem En, was employed to take photographs of some of the 14,000 people tortured to death or sent to the killing fields from the prison. (International Herald Tribune)

UN Warning on Cambodia Tribunal (October 1, 2007)

The UN has issued a report about the high salaries and unqualified staff of the Cambodian tribunal on the Khmer Rouge. The report states that unless there is a new recruitment process the UN will cease to collaborate with the trial. The Cambodian tribunal administration defended the trial and called the accusations "out of proportion." Open Society Justice Initiative, which is monitoring the court, has agreed with the UN report and is requesting further corruption investigations. (BBC)

Pol Pot's Deputy Held on Genocide Charge (September 19, 2007)

Cambodian police arrested one of the last remaining Khmer Rouge generals and Pol Pot's "Brother Number 2," Nuon Chea, who faces charges in the Special Tribunal for Cambodia for crimes against humanity. After tense negotiations with the UN, the tribunal was established in 2006 under both Cambodian and foreign judges. Despite the historic moment for the tribunal, some might question why this indictment took so long. (Guardian)

Cambodia's Trial by Fire (August 21, 2007)

In July 2007, the Special Tribunal for Cambodia issued its first indictment against Pol Pot's chief executioner Kang Kek Ieu (Comrade Duch), accused of the killings of thousands at the Tuol Sleng prison. However, the court's progress is still minor considering that the perpetrators of the Khmer Rouge war crimes, which occurred over 30 years ago, are still living freely and might die of natural causes. This Los Angeles Times article urges the UN-backed tribunal to prove to the public "that leaders are not immune from prosecution" and to refute the idea that the "lack of accountability is one of the most enduring legacies of Khmer Rouge rule."

Putting the Khmer Rouge on Trial (July 26, 2007)

Nine years after Cambodia's appeal for UN assistance, the Special Tribunal for Cambodia begins its proceedings as prosecutors submit an undisclosed list of five suspects. Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's former chief lieutenant, is expected to be on the top of the list of suspects responsible for the death of 2 million people during the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. Nuon Chea, however, rejects all accusations and blames US bombings and Vietnamese attacks for the mass graves in Cambodia. Youk Chhang, a Cambodian expert on Khmer Rouge, believes that this tribunal is "a lesson we can learn from" and offers hope for other genocides happening around the world. (Time)

Prosecutors Identify Suspects in Khmer Rouge Trial (July 19, 2007)

Prosecutors at the Special Tribunal for Cambodia present the Tribunal with a list of five suspects, allegedly responsible for crimes against humanity during the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. Although the prosecutors did not release names, six former Khmer Rouge leaders are often mentioned. The tribunal has finally made some progress after a year-long delay caused by procedural disagreements between Cambodian and international judges. (New York Times)

Khmer Rouge Trial (July 12, 2007)

According to UN Principal Defender at the Special Tribunal for Cambodia Rupert Skilbeck, the Khmer Rouge defense team could argue that the politically-inclined mass murders in the 1970s did not constitute genocide. Skilbeck clarifies that, under international law, "genocide" represents killings based on ethnic, not political, differences. As of today, all but one Khmer Rouge leaders live freely in Cambodia, and in the absence of a "single piece of evidence to convict the Khmer Rouge," the prosecution faces the difficult task of assembling a case based solely on the victims' testimonies. (Richard S. Ehrlich's Website)

Tribunal Finally Ready to Probe "Killing Fields" (June 14, 2007)

After twelve months of disagreements and a week-long meeting, Cambodian and international judges finally reach a consensus on procedural rules for the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders. The US$56 million trial for the 1975-79 genocide will start in 2008 and last for three years. Foreign lawyers are now allowed to represent defendants, and genocide victims can file complaints as a group. (Globe and Mail)

Judges Meet to Keep Ball Rolling on Cambodian Genocide Trials (May 31, 2007)

International and Cambodian judges met on May 31, 2007 to resolve procedural disagreements regarding the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders accused of the 1975-79 genocide. The court must begin its proceedings soon because the aging defendants could die before being convicted. The disagreement about the rules is "only one hurdle among countless potential hurdles." Co-investigating judge Marcel Lemonde warns that the complicated Cambodian judicial system could result in further delays. Also, the language barrier between local and foreign judges requires all documents to be translated into Cambodian, English and French adding to the bureaucracy. (Associated Press)

Judge Says Cambodian Genocide Tribunal in Jeopardy if Court Rules Not Adopted (May 23, 2007)

Marcel Lemonde, a co-investigating judge for the Special Tribunal for Cambodia, warns that further procedural disagreements between Cambodian and international officials could jeopardize the future of the Tribunal. Past disagreements, such as outrageous fees for international lawyers, have already delayed the trials which were scheduled to begin in early 2007. The two sides will meet from May 31 to June 13 to iron out any remaining differences. Victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide worry that the criminals will die prior to conviction. (International Herald Tribune)

Cambodia Cuts Fees Threatening Khmer Rouge Trial (April 28, 2007)

The Cambodian Bar Association has lowered the registration fee per foreign lawyer due to participate in the Khmer Rouge trials from US$4,900 to US$500. The decision comes after international jurists argued that the exorbitant fee would "deter lawyers who wanted to offer their services free of charge to defendants." The two groups will next meet at the end of May 2007 in the hopes of finalizing ground rules for the UN-backed tribunal and moving ahead with a judicial process that has taken nearly a decade to begin. (Reuters)

Khmer Rouge Trial Rules Agreed At Last (March 16, 2007)

After lengthy negotiations, Cambodian and foreign judges have resolved some of the disagreements over rules for running the UN-backed war crimes tribunal for former Khmer Rouge leaders. However, a remaining point of contention lies in the Cambodian Bar Association's proposed registration fees for international lawyers. While the bar's demands may not necessarily impede the tribunal's progress, some legal analysts say the hefty fee "severely limits the rights of accused and victims to select counsel of their choice." (Reuters)

Closure for Cambodia? Thirty Years On, The Khmer Rouge Trials Risk Collapse (March 5, 2007)

Following a breakthrough in negotiations between Cambodia's government and the UN in 2003, observers believed that a hybrid court would finally prosecute former Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity. But the tribunal, dogged by allegations of corruption as well as severe funding problems, now faces dimming prospects of effectively delivering justice and closing a brutal chapter in Cambodian history. This Newsweekpiece examines the challenges of a mixed court, concluding that the Khmer Rouge trials "could become an exercise of politics over justice."

Corruption Allegations at Khmer Rouge Court Must Be Investigated Thoroughly (February 14, 2007)

Cambodian personnel at the UN-backed war crimes tribunal reportedly have to pay a considerable amount of their earnings to government officials to secure their jobs at the court. These allegations of financial misconduct cast further doubt on whether the Cambodian judges will resist political pressure and act independently when the genocide trials begin in mid-2007. While welcoming an independent investigation into the matter, Open Society Justice Initiativeproposes additional measures to maintain the court's integrity.

2006

Row Over Foreign Lawyers Threatens Khmer Rouge Trial (November 24, 2006)

Hybrid tribunals, which consist of both foreign and local lawyers and judges, face the daunting challenge of upholding international standards of impartiality without antagonizing the domestic judiciary. This Agence France Pressepiece reports on the apparent "turf wars" between Cambodian legal groups and foreign lawyers ahead of the genocide trials of former Khmer Rouge regime leaders. Foreign jurists have offered legal training for their inexperienced or under-trained Cambodian counterparts. But the Cambodian Bar Association has complained that this program "violates domestic laws" and infringes on its authority.

Former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Not Immune From Prosecution (October 26, 2006)

The UN-backed Cambodian Tribunal will not recognize a royal pardon granted to former Khmer Rouge official Ieng Sary in 1996 as legitimate exemption from prosecution. This development increases the likelihood that Sary will stand trial for his role in human rights abuses during the Khmer Rouge's rule of terror in the 1970's. This Associated Pressarticle affirms that, with the evolution of international law, leaders can no longer use their status or influence to shield themselves from the legal consequences of crimes against humanity.

Khmer Rouge in Court (October 2006)

This article from Le Monde diplomatiqueexamines impunity against the backdrop of Khmer Rouge atrocities during the regime's brutal 1975-1979 rule in Cambodia. Nearly three decades later, political interference as well as former Khmer Rouge leaders' old age and illness prove significant obstacles to the UN-backed tribunal in its pursuit of justice for the victims of the crimes. Further, noting foreign governments' support for the Khmer Rouge – Washington's in particular – the author points out that "non-Cambodians who share responsibility" for the mass killings will escape prosecution.

Khmer Rouge "Butcher" Ta Mok Dies (July 21, 2006)

The death of former Khmer Rouge military leader Ta Mok confirms fears that victims of the regime's atrocities may not see justice served. Many surviving leaders have evaded indictment for crimes against humanity because of old age and poor health. Since the Khmer Rouge four-year rule of terror ended in 1979, analysts criticize the lengthy process of trying the alleged genocide perpetrators. (BBC)

Khmer Rouge Victims Demand Day in Court (July 4, 2006)

More than three decades after the Khmer Rouge's four-year reign of terror in Cambodia, the long-awaited process of bringing the regime's leaders to justice has begun. Survivors of the Khmer Rouge atrocities insist that the UN-backed tribunal provide a platform for victims to speak of their sufferings. A tribunal spokesperson says that the tribunal's location in Cambodia, rather than in another country, will give victims the opportunity to see the former leaders face justice. (Inter Press Service)

Judges Sworn In For Historic Khmer Rouge Genocide Tribunal (July 3, 2006)

The swearing-in ceremony of Cambodian and UN-appointed foreign judges marked a symbolic step in bringing former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice. But victims lament the slow pace of the proceedings, fearing that aging and ailing defendants like Ta Mok, nicknamed "The Butcher," may never face justice for genocide and crimes against humanity. Established in 2003, more than three decades after the ousting of the regime, the UN-backed Cambodian Tribunal has yet to set an exact start date for the trials. (Associated Press)

Jailed Khmer Rouge Army Chief Hospitalized (June 29, 2006)

In 2003, the UN and Cambodia reached an agreement on a hybrid tribunal to try surviving Khmer Rouge leaders for human rights abuses after years of tense negotiations. However, funding problems, corruption and a weak judicial system have hampered efforts to deliver justice to the victims. Survivors fear that former Khmer Rouge senior military official Ta Mok's hospitalization for various illnesses may impede accountability for his part in the genocide of the late 1970s. (Associated Press)

Canadian Takes Key Role in Cambodian Tribunal (June 28, 2006)

Bringing experience from the war crimes courts for Rwanda, East Timor, Kosovo and Sierra Leone, Canadian lawyer Robert Petit will serve as co-prosecutor in the Khmer Rouge trial. He concedes that with a three-year limit, financial shortfalls, charges of corruption and political bias, the Cambodian tribunal presents unique challenges. In addition, Petit pushes aside concerns about other governments trying to hinder the UN-backed tribunal, focusing instead on his responsibility to the victims of the regime's atrocities. (Embassy)

UN Urges Cambodia Judicial Reform (May 19, 2006)

The UN has called for Cambodia to improve the local justice system, whose officials lack adequate training and qualifications. The urge for reform comes shortly after the selection of judges to participate in the trial of leaders of the former Khmer Rouge, the regime responsible for the wave of terror and mass killings in Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen has refuted the criticisms, exacerbating already tense UN-Cambodia relations. (BBC)

Justice Catches Up with the Khmer Rouge (May 5, 2006)

The UN-backed Cambodian Tribunal has appointed an international panel of 30 judges and prosecutors. Although the trials will not start until early 2007, the court has already catalogued detailed records of Khmer Rouge atrocities. To resist political pressures on the tribunal, judges will follow a "complex formula" which requires local and international jurists to support any verdict. The article lists five Khmer Rouge leaders who will face the tribunal, including Nuon Chea, Pol Pots "Brother Number 2." (Independent)

Justice Initiatives: The Extraordinary Chambers (April 2006)

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, set up after years of negotiations, aims to bring the Khmer Rouge leaders to justice. This publication provides a comprehensive analysis of the joint UN-Cambodian war crimes tribunal by several legal and academic experts including a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). As James Goldston of the Open Society Justice Initiativenotes, this release seeks to investigate some of the challenges faced by the Tribunal as well as to help Cambodians to better understand the complex legal proceedings.

Last Chance to Try the Khmer Rouge (April 13, 2006)

The UN-backed Cambodian Tribunal faces challenges common to other war crimes courts, such as aging, poor health and even death of prime suspects, which further delay the justice system, as was the case in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic. In addition, concerns of political interference by the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, are growing. Nonetheless, supporters of the process, including the UN, argue that the court will bring some measure of justice to the survivors of Cambodia's killing fields. (International Herald Tribunal)

Can Cambodia Get Justice (April 13, 2006)

Him Huy, a former Khmer Rouge guard, looks forward to the UN Cambodia trial so that both he and former victims will "hear the truth" from regime officials. Huy, who was forcibly recruited by the Khmer Rouge, does not place importance in a verdict but in making people understand why "I had not choice. I myself want to understand better why I had no choice." (Deutsche Presse Agentur)

Khmer Rouge to Face Trial Soon (January 17, 2006)

Preparations are underway for the joint UN-Cambodian trial of senior Khmer Rouge officials. The tribunal has assembled its staff and secured the bulk of its budget. Critics however state that the trial is an "awkward hybrid," following years of wrestling between the Cambodian government and the UN. They believe the staff consists of under-trained local judges and prosecutors, raising questions about the quality of justice the court will produce. (International Herald Tribune)

2005

Justice Past Due in Cambodia (December 24, 2005)

The US has in the past refused to support a tribunal in Cambodia to try surviving Khmer Rouge leaders, partially for fear of political interference by current Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in judicial proceedings. The author argues that this lack of assistance will decrease the likelihood of the tribunal's success. It may not be too late though – US President George Bush signed in November 2005 the Foreign Operations Appropriation Act that can pave the way for US financial support. (Washington Post)

Khmer Tribunal Stalled Again (August 22, 2005)

According to this Bangkok Postarticle, a crisis of political will, not finance, plagues the Special Tribunal for Cambodia. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a former officer of the Khmer Rouge, stated that the Tribunal cannot proceed because of Cambodia's financial shortcomings. However, Cambodia may very well have the resources to pay for the Special Tribunal, but corruption and former Khmer Rouge commanders' fear of prosecution are in fact halting the proceedings.

Issues of Priority Concerning the Extraordinary Chambers (August 8, 2005)

Justice Initiativecalls on the international community to ensure that the forthcoming Cambodian Special Tribunal be impartial and effective. In order to successfully prosecute criminals, argues the group, the Tribunal must guarantee the transparency of judge and prosecutor selection, the adequacy of the national court system, and must ascertain that the Cambodian population is well-informed of the proceedings.

Rights Groups Condemn Convictions in Cambodian Union Leader's Murder (August 2, 2005)

Human rights groups say that the inadequate trial of two men jailed for allegedly murdering a union leader proves that Cambodia's judicial system is "politicized" and "incompetent". It appears very unlikely, local groups add, that the Khmer Rouge trials will be any less biased, as they too are to be carried out within Cambodia's current court system. (Associated Press)

Khmer Rouge Tribunal Needs More than Money (July 19, 2005)

Despite alleged inability to pay its share for the Khmer Rouge trials, the Cambodian government rejects widely-espoused suggestions for a national fund-raising campaign to subsidize the tribunal's costs. This Bangkok Postarticle criticizes Phnom Penh for not demonstrating support for the tribunal, and warns that the soon-to-be court promises to be biased unless civil society plays a greater role in overseeing the government's selection of judges and prosecutors.

Khmer Rouge to Face UN Tribunal (May 2, 2005)

After years of negotiations and delays, the UN announced that the international community has pledged sufficient funds to try former Khmer Rouge officials at a special tribunal in Cambodia. The Cambodian government welcomed the move, but some observers doubt the sincerity of this sentiment, pointing to the government's previous attempts to hinder the tribunal's establishment. Human rights activists remain unconvinced that Cambodia will see justice. (Guardian)

Khmer Rouge Tribunal a Race Against Time As Debates Rage (April 14, 2005)

The proposed format for Cambodia's hybrid war crimes tribunal has drawn strong criticism from some observers who worry that the country's "notoriously corrupt" judicial system will adversely affect the new tribunal. Others denounce the court as "farcical" because it cannot try "all the actors" who facilitated the Khmer Rouge's human rights abuses, including the US. (Agence France Presse)

Time for Long-Awaited Trials (April 10, 2005)

This Gulf Newsarticle draws comparisons between the Iraq Tribunal set up to try Saddam Hussein and his officials, and the planned Special Tribunal for Cambodia which will judge former Khmer Rouge leaders. The author points to the fact that in both tribunals the trials will take place in the countries where the crimes occurred, and both courts will have local and foreign judges presiding. The tribunals have equally attracted criticism from analysts, legal experts and human rights organizations over issues of fairness and impartiality.

A Cold War Hangover in US on Cambodia (April 9, 2005)

The "extraordinary American refusal" to contribute financial assistance to the planned Special Tribunal for Cambodia stems from a congressional ban on such aid. Senators who dislike Prime Minister Hun Sen's government support the law, which harks back to Cold War politics when the US backed the ousted Khmer Rouge to undermine Vietnam. But this International Herald Tribunearticle argues the US has a "historic responsibility" to assist the Tribunal.

For Cambodia's Dead, Farce Heaped on Insult (April 2, 2005)

This article from the International Herald Tribunecomments on the financing troubles that continue to plague the Special Tribunal for Cambodia. The author declares that "the tribunal for the largest mass murder since the Nazis is being held up by a missing four million bucks" and speculates that the issue of money provides a "convenient pretext for those with little interest in a trial," such as Cambodian Prime Minister and former Khmer Rouge member Hun Sen.

Cambodia Steps Closer to Justice (March 31, 2005)

Donations from the international community have enlivened plans for Cambodia's Khmer Rouge trials, which languished for years because of political deals that granted amnesty to former officials. The trials will take place in an "Extraordinary Chambers" war crimes court; a low-cost hybrid international tribunal that will have a mix of Cambodian and foreign judges. Some observers see this system as "vulnerable to stalemate" but the fact that 25 years have passed since the Khmer Rouge was in power means that officials have amassed an abundance of evidence against suspects. (Inter Press Service)

Governments Pledge US$38.48 Million for Khmer Rouge Trials (March 28, 2005)

Thirteen UN member states have pledged a total of US$38.48 million towards establishing a Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal. Under an agreement with the UN and Cambodia's government, the international community will meet the tribunal's expenses through voluntary contributions. Phnom Penh will contribute a further US$13.3 million and estimates the cost of the three-year trials at US$56.3 million, leaving the fund just US$4.52 million short. (UN Press Release)

Skulls Haunt Cambodia, Demanding Belated Justice (March 20, 2005)

The presence of thousands of skulls around Cambodia serves as a gruesome reminder of what happened under the Khmer Rouge, and has sparked a debate over whether to cremate these remains. Government officials say they may need the skulls as forensic evidence should the proposed international tribunal, plagued by setbacks and delays, ever get underway. Cambodians support preservation, and still hope that trials will one day provide closure. (International Herald Tribune)

Cambodians Battle Their Minds to Remember the Khmer Rouge (January 20, 2005)

Financing problems continue to hamper plans for an international criminal tribunal in Cambodia, which will try former Khmer Rouge officials. One of the key challenges to face the court is its ability to remain impartial as the first international tribunal where domestic judges form a majority. The greatest difficulty, however, is to overcome local disillusionment fuelled by cynicism towards "Cambodia's culture of impunity." (Inter Press Service)

2004

Khmer Rouge Court Closer to Fruition After Cambodia's Notification to UN (December 3, 2004)

The Cambodian National Assembly took six years to ratify the UN pact for a genocide tribunal to try Khmer Rouge leaders. Just months later, Cambodia has also agreed to all legal requirements of the pact, and now awaits funding from international donors. Secretary General Kofi Annan, in his report to the General Assembly, said Cambodia must have the funds for the tribunal's first year of operations and pledges for the second two years in hand before the trials begin. (UN News)

Cambodia Tribunal May Pave Way for Judicial Reform (October 14, 2004)

A Cambodian legal group believes a Khmer Rouge war crimes trial that upholds "victims' rights, a fair trial for the accused, and human rights protections" could improve judicial reform. But in a country known for "notoriously corrupt cops and courts," an impartial trial seems ambitious. Forty four percent of survivors from the Khmer Rouge period who were interviewed for a poll said they would rather not have a trial at all than one that does not uphold justice. (Christian Science Monitor)

Report of the Secretary General on Khmer Rouge Trials (October 12, 2004)

Secretary General Kofi Annan's interim report on a United Nations-Cambodian government agreement outlines the progress of preparations for the genocide tribunal. Cambodia expedited its side of the agreement as the new government finally ratified the plan in July 2004. The Secretary General credits the Cambodian Government Task Force, member states and the NGO community for their interest in the court proceedings, and expresses his wish that these constituencies will continue to show their support.

Cambodia PM Rebukes Partners In Planned Genocide Tribunal (September 16, 2004)

Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen fired back at international criticism on corruption in his country's courts by stating that "not everything Cambodian is inferior and everything foreign is intelligent." Hun Sen warned foreign personnel to put aside priorities of high salary and reiterated that Cambodia could not pay the expected 50 percent of the Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal, estimated at $57 million. (Associated Press)

Price of Justice for Khmer Rouge Up $10m (June 4 - 17, 2004)

While preparations advance for the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia, donors raised concerns about its increasing costs. The UN Khmer Rouge trial task force, however, urged funders not to jeopardize the tribunal's standards by cutting its budget. (Phnom Penh Post)

Khmer Rouge In the Dock (June 7, 2004)

The planned establishment of "Extraordinary Chambers" to try those most responsible for crimes under the Khmer Rouge represents a step toward the Special Tribunal for Cambodia. The Chambers' proceedings could also stimulate public demand for domestic tribunals thus contributing to changes in the country's ordinary courts. (Korea Herald)

Khmer Rouge Trials Stalled by Political Deadlock (May 5, 2004)

The political deadlock in Cambodia, which leaves the country without a functioning parliament, creates uncertainty about the trial of Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity. Human rights activists, doubting the government's objectivity in the trials, argue that Prime Minister Hun Sen and other government leaders were themselves part of the Khmer Rouge regime. (Washington Post)

UN Delegation Reports Progress in Plans for Khmer Rouge Tribunal (March 18, 2004)

The United Nations delegation sent to Cambodia to assist the government with practical arrangements for the Khmer Rouge trials has concluded its work.. The teams coordinator, Karsten Herrel, estimated the cost of the tribunal at more than US $ 50 million, which will be split between the United Nations and the Cambodian government. (Voice of America)

UN to Help With Khmer Rouge Courts Arrangements (March 12, 2004)

The United Nations has sent two experts to assist Cambodia in launching the Special Tribunal for Cambodia. The experts will help with practical arrangements such as reviewing budget estimates for the tribunal's work. (United Nations)

Khmer Rouge Chief's Memoirs out (March 5, 2004)

Former Khmer Rouge President of Cambodia, Khieu Samphan, is expected to be one of the first of the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime to stand trial at the Special Tribunal for Cambodia. Samphan published his memoirs in March 2004 in which he denied taking part in the mass killings in the 1970s. (BBC)

Cambodian Court Extends Khmer Rouge Detentions (February 25, 2004)

A Cambodian military court ruled in favor of a one year extension of the detention of former military chief Ta Mok and "Dutch" head of the S-21 interrogation center, as part of preparation for a UN backed genocide trial of Khmer Rouge leaders. So far, no Khmer Rouge leader has faced justice for the estimated 1.7 million people that were killed during the regime's four year rule. (Reuters)

 


 

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