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.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Report Warns of Political Interference at Tribunal

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
25 November 2009

Political interference at the Khmer Rouge tribunal is undermining its credibility, a monitoring group for the UN-backed court says in a November report.

The Open Society Justice Initiative says in its latest report that the refusal of six government officials to appear to witness summonses in an upcoming trial for Khmer Rouge, is compromising the international standards of the tribunal.

Confidential sources within the tribunal also told the group they would not likely be allowed by the government to cooperate with prosecutors and investigators as the tribunal prepares to try more members of the regime, next year, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the group says, the government has failed to act on nominations for an international prosecutor to replace Robert Petit, who left in September.

“Political interference at the ECCC poses a serious challenge to both the credibility of the court and its ability to meet international fair trial standards,” the report says, referring to the tribunal by its official initials, for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

James Goldston, executive director of OSJI, told VOA Khmer Tuesday that Cambodia, the UN and donors needed to address the threat of political interference in the tribunal’s proceedings.

“There have been indications that the future investigation may not receive full cooperation from the Cambodian authorities,” he said by phone from New York. “That, of course, would be a very bad signal and a very bad indication of the court’s independence.”

He called it “crucial” that “all persons who are properly requested to appear before the investigative authority, prosecution, judges, do so, and that the court is capable and able to pursue its investigation and prosecution to the full extent, where the evidence leads,” he said.

Tribunal officials declined to comment on the report, which they had not yet read.

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, denied the conclusions in the report.

The six government officials who have so far refused to appear as witnesses under summons did so to ensure fairness at the tribunal, as they had once fought against the Khmer Rouge, he said.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Textbook Sheds Light on Khmer Rouge Era

By Guy De Launey BBC News, Phnom Penh

Students can rarely have seemed so enthusiastic about receiving a textbook.

Even though it was not a school day, dozens of them made their way in to Sisowath High School in the centre of Phnom Penh for a presentation ceremony.

School and government officials were formally handing out the new Khmer Rouge history book, a scene that will be repeated across the country in the closing months of this year.

Three decades have passed since the fall of the Khmer Rouge government. Yet only now are Cambodian schoolchildren finally starting to learn about what happened during the Pol Pot era.

As many as two million people died in the late 1970s from forced labour, malnutrition and the summary execution of so-called "enemies of the revolution".

But the subject was conspicuous by its absence from the high school curriculum until the new textbook received official approval.

At Sisowath High, the students enthusiastically fired questions at the book's author and an official from the ministry of education. They asked "Who were the Khmer Rouge?" and "Why did they kill their own people?"

Fragile society

These are the kind of things which one might have thought they would already know. But official information has been thin on the ground. Until now the official school text contained a mere five lines on the Pol Pot era.

Khamboly Dy has expanded that paragraph to an entire textbook for the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, an organisation which gathers evidence about Khmer Rouge atrocities.

Like most Cambodians, he was born after the fall of the Khmer Rouge - but he insists young people must not ignore the subject.

"After the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia was so damaged and fragile - like broken glass," he says.

"The young generation has the responsibility to repair this broken glass. They need to understand what happened in their country before they can move forward to build up democracy, peace and reconciliation."

Teaching the Khmer Rouge era has not been straightforward in Cambodia.

The subject disappeared from the curriculum in the early 1990s when Pol Pot and his followers were among the signatories to a peace agreement.

A series of defections and the presence of former Khmer Rouge members in the current government mean it is still a sensitive issue to tackle.

So the new textbook is careful to concentrate on the grim facts of the Pol Pot era, rather than any political analysis. And that has ensured its official approval.

There are chapters titled "forced labour", "purges and massacres" and "interrogation and torture" - but no explicit photos.

Changing attitudes

Seventeen-year-old Rina was among the first students at Sisowath High to receive the textbook - and looked forward to closing the gaps in her knowledge.

"I feel regret and guilty about this; they killed a lot of people," she explained.

"The new textbook will give me the experience of what happened in Cambodia - and Cambodians will never let this happen again."

The absence of the Khmer Rouge era from the school curriculum meant young Cambodians had been relying on older family members for information.

Researchers discovered that some found the horrific stories barely believable, and cast doubt on whether the atrocities actually happened.

Those attitudes may now change. Sisowath High School history teacher Im Sao Sokha will be among those using the new textbook to guide students through Cambodia's bloody past.

"I lived through this period myself," he says.

"No other country killed its own people like this - it was a disastrous episode in Cambodian history. If they understand what happened during the Khmer Rouge, students will change their attitude. They won't get involved with conflict, violence or fighting with each other."

It is a lot of weight to put on a single textbook. But at the very least it should help to ensure that young Cambodians have the full details of the events of the Pol Pot era. What happens next is up to them.

UN, Cambodian Officials Meet Over Tribunal

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
12 November 2009

Cambodian and UN officials met on Wednesday for general talks on the Khmer Rouge tribunal, including the budget, as the UN-backed court prepares for a complicated trial and still faces shortfalls in funding.

Council Minister Sok An met with UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Peter Taksoe-Jensen in Phnom Penh as part of a “routine consultation,” a tribunal spokesman said.

Taksoe-Jensen ended three days of talks on Wednesday, having met with Sok An, tribunal officials and non-governmental organizations.

No details of the meeting were released, but the tribunal budget was “part of the discussion,” the spokesman, Lars Olsen said.

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers and head of a task force on tribunal negotiations, said the talks covered cooperation between the government and the UN and the results of the trial of Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch.

The tribunal is now preparing for its second case, against all five jailed leaders of the regime, which promises to be more complicated than that of Duch.

Tribunal observers have noted that the court has had difficulty gaining the confidence of many donors and still labors under allegations of corruption. It has also had difficulty calling senior government officials to testify.

Officials have said the new budget includes provisions for the arrest of five more suspects, a move Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned could lead to instability.

Khmer Rouge Tribunal Asked to Define Victim Reparation

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer Original report from Phnom Penh20 November 2009
The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) and a London-based rights group, Redress, urged the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on Friday to show respect for the principle of reparation and make funds available for the regime’s survivors.
The groups insist on having victims participate in the discussions about reparations with the court, and that judges should issue an order about reparations and explain ways to find funds for it.
“We want to know clearly from the Khmer Rouge tribunal regarding the reparation,” said Hang Chhaya, director of Khmer Institute for Democracy and coordinator of the CHRAC.
But Reach Sambath, head of public affairs of UN-backed court, said the court is not yet in a position to thoroughly review the issue of reparation.
“The court is now working on Duch’s case,” he said, referring to case 001 against a notorious former Khmer Rouge prison chief. “And that issue has not been discussed in details yet.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Tribunal Budget Anticipates More Indictments

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
30 October 2009

Khmer Rouge tribunal administrators have completed a budget request for the next two years that anticipates the possibility of further indictments, an official said.

The indictment of more leaders of the regime is politically controversial, with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Cambodian judges contending further charges could endanger national stability.

“The ECCC has finalized the budget proposal for 2010 and 2011, which has taken into account that there might be an additional case three with five suspects,” said Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the UN side of the court. “But since the donors have not had a chance to look into the budget yet, we cannot go public with the figure.”

The proposal has been sent to UN headquarters in New York and will be presented to donors “very soon,” he said.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC, the official name of the tribunal, was originally budgeted at just $56 million. That figure proved less than enough, and the tribunal has found itself in fiscal trouble on several occasions.

Donors have already approved a $143 million round of funding that was to last through 2011, but monitors for the UN-backed court say the new figure is larger and would carry the tribunal through 2012.

“Based on the latest developments, we have seen that at present the ECCC is negotiating with key donors,” at least five countries, said Latt Ky, who monitors the tribunal for the rights group Adhoc. The exact figure remains a secret, he said.

A US State Department official said a new budget is being reviewed by Congress. The US has so far provided $1.8 million for the UN side of the court, following measures by the tribunal to deal with ongoing allegations of corruption.

The names of the five suspects who could face indictment by investigating judges have not been publicly released.

But one who could face charges is Meas Muth, a former Khmer Rouge commander who is now an adviser to the Ministry of Defense. He has said he will go to the court if summoned, but he denied any wrongdoing in Khmer Rouge atrocities.

A second possible suspect, Im Chaem, a Khmer Rouge district chief who is now a deputy commune chief in a former rebel area in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anglong Veng district, has said she will not cooperate with a court summons.

The court has so far only undertaken one trial, of Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch, and is currently holding four other former leaders: ideologue Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary and social affairs minister Ieng Thirith.

The tribunal is preparing a case against the latter four that is expected to commence in 2010.

Tribunal Gives Update on Second Investigation

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer Original report from Phnom Penh05 November 2009
Khmer Rouge tribunal judges outlined some of the progress they’ve made in investigating the second case against jailed leaders of the regime, urging victims to continue to file as witnesses and complainants.
The investigation has covered 16 provinces, as well as the capital, and will group the five jailed leaders together, including Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch, who has been undergoing a separate trial for his role as chief of Tuol Sleng prison.
Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith are also being investigated under Case No. 002.
Tribunal officials said Thursday the investigation had found instances of forced labor in six provinces, as well as 13 detention centers and execution sites in 10 provinces. Investigators are also looking into forced evictions and marriages and crimes against ethnic minorities, Muslims and Vietnamese.
Thursday’s discussion was the first unveiling of the tribunal’s investigatory workings, and tribunal officials encouraged more people to file with the Victims Unit of the UN-backed court, to help further.
“If they want to become a civil party, they need to apply as soon as possible,” said Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the UN side of the court.
Helen Jarvis, head of the Victims Unit, said the tribunal has received more than 5,000 complaints from victims in cases No. 001 and No. 002. Around 1,482 have filed complaints as victims for the upcoming case.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cross-Examination Practices of the Duch Trial

Many of those observing the proceedings before the ECCC may have wondered about the most permissive cross-examination rules practiced by the Trial Chamber (‘TC’). In fact, very few restraints have been observed to what seems to have been the court and the parties’ unfettered power to cross-examine.
Before any further discussion of the matter it is salient to acknowledge that there are no spelled out restraints for cross-examination in the Internal Rules (‘IRs’) of the ECCC pertinent to the proceedings before the TC. This unfortunate omission by the drafters and the judges themselves, however, should not result in an unfettered grant to cross-examine as there are cross-examination rules which have been developed by other known jurisdictions and at the international level. Under these rules – which vary somewhat from jurisdiction to jurisdiction – parties may raise objections based upon a set of prescribed grounds. One of such grounds is leading questions. The legal community has a reasonable understanding of what constitutes a leading question, although there might not be specific grammatical structures which such a question has to fit to be objected to as a leading question (many lawyers, if asked what constitutes a leading question, will answer “you will know it is a leading question when you hear one). Ultimately, however, it is the presiding judge within whose authority it is to determine which question is leading and which is not in response to an objection raised by a party to the proceedings.
The Duch trial up to this point has been a cornucopia of unrestrained leading questions. In some cases (e.g. Chan’s testimony) lawyers raised objections to specific lines of questioning or specific questions, however, to no avail as the TC shied away from setting rules in every instance such an objection was raised.
This practice has had a negative effect on the proceedings which has yet to be evaluated. This is particularly unfortunate in Duch’s trial where the accused has been generally in agreement with the charges against him and on the whole has not denied the core of the culpability theory designed by the prosecution. As it was previously argued on this forum, under other circumstances Duch would have been either plea-bargained (in the US system) or his trial would have been cut down to the short possible period. This is not the case before the ECCC to which the search of correctness of historical record – at times at painful detail-level which is unimaginable to have any adducible evidentiary value – seems to have taken precedence to the finding out whether there is sufficient evidence to prove the accused’s guilt as charged by the prosecution. The fact that leading questions are rarely objected to and never suppressed and the prosecution’s statement which declared the possibility of prosecution of witnesses “remote” gives the witnesses in this case an incentive to simply say ‘yes’ to some of the leading questions which, as the defense very correctly noted, might have implications for the witnesses under the Joint Criminal Enterprise (‘JCE’) theory.