ECCC Reparations

This blog is designed to serve as a repository of analyses, news reports and press releases related to the issue of RERAPATIONS within the framework of the Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a.k.a. the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Statement from Rupert Skilbeck

Statement from Rupert Skilbeck
Head of the Defence Support Section

The adoption of the Internal Rules of the ECCC is a great achievement and an important step to ensure fair trials.
The Judges have managed to create a framework to administer highly complex criminal trials. They have successfully merged international criminal law with Cambodian law and drafted the Internal Rules in three languages. Judges from many different legal backgrounds are now ready to hold trials which have the potential to bring justice for the victims whilst ensuring fair trials for the accused.
Fundamental Rights
The Internal Rules guarantee a number of fundamental rights that will help ensure fair trials for the accused. For example:
· The Rules guarantee the right of the accused to an effective team of Co-Lawyers, one Cambodian and one foreign, matching the Co-Prosecutors.
· The Rules guarantee the right of the accused to remain silent, if he chooses to do so.
· The Rules make clear that the burden is on the prosecution to prove the case against the accused, and to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Potential problems
In some areas the protections given to the accused in the Rules are not as progressive as the protections given in other tribunals. Indeed, there are concerns that certain rules may not fully comply with international standards of fair trial. It is envisaged that defence teams may raise these concerns with the court during the proceedings.

The Defence Support Section
The Internal Rules also create the legal framework for the Defence Support Section and outline the tasks it will perform.
The List
The DSS is required to manage a list of lawyers who can appear before the ECCC and is responsible for presenting that list to suspects and assist them in choosing a legal team. The DSS will also prepare applications to be forwarded to the Bar Association, although it will be for individual lawyers to pay the $500 fee directly.
The List will be opened as soon as the Internal Rules come into force, and the application forms will be available either on the websites of the Court or by contacting the DSS.
We have already had considerable interest from foreign lawyers in Australia, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States who are keen to be included in the List.
Legal Assistance Scheme
The DSS will pay the fees of lawyers where the accused does not have the means to pay. The DSS fee scheme builds on the lessons of other international and hybrid tribunals in order to create a system that is fair, free of corruption, and provides for an effective defence.
Cambodian lawyers will be paid at the same rate as Cambodian prosecutors and foreign lawyers will be paid the same as the foreign prosecutors.
Legal Support and Training
The DSS is required to provide legal support through research and analysis to defence teams. We currently have a team of eight experienced lawyers and law students who are able to provide that support to defence teams as soon as an arrest is made. The Rules make clear that in giving this support the DSS is independent from the Office of Administration, and we will act in the best interests of the client.
Rule 11 requires the DSS to organise training for lawyers, in co-operation with the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia. This will allow us to build on the very successful training on International Criminal Law that was held earlier this year and we have already started planning the next training events.
It is disappointing that the ECCC will not follow the practice adopted at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Sarajevo War Crimes Chamber in Bosnia and the International Criminal Court and allow lawyers from the Defence Support Section to appear in court on a ‘stand-in’ basis. Using DSS lawyers in court for short hearings rather than having to wait for foreign lawyers to fly in would have saved considerable time and money. It will have to be seen to what extent this decision will cause further delays at the ECCC.

The ECCC can only bring justice to the people of Cambodia if the trials that are heard in this court room are fair, impartial and open. The defence will be vigilant to ensure that that is done.

13th June 2007


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