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.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Khmer Rouge Tribunal Indicts 4 Senior Leaders

Associated Press Writer Sopheng Cheang, Associated Press Writer

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodia's genocide tribunal Thursday indicted the four top surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime blamed for 1.7 million deaths in the 1970s, paving the way for the panel's long-awaited second trial next year.

The U.N.-assisted tribunal has said it expects to start the trial by the middle of next year against Nuon Chea, the group's ideologist; former head of state Khieu Samphan; former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary; and his wife Ieng Thirith, ex-minister for social affairs.

They each face four charges, including crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and a combined charge of murder, torture and religious persecution, co-investigating judge You Bunleng told a news conference.

The four have been interviewed by investigating judges 46 times since being detained at the tribunal in 2007, he said.

The group's chief jailer, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, was convicted this year of war crimes and crimes against humanity and will serve a 19-year sentence.

Duch (pronounced DOIK) was the first defendant to be tried. He supervised the notorious S-21 prison where as many as 16,000 people were tortured before being executed.

Also found guilty of torture and murder, Duch was originally sentenced to 35 years. Time served reduced the sentence 11 years, and he was compensated five years for illegal detention in a military prison.

The length of Duch's sentence was widely criticized as too short and prosecutors are appealing for a longer sentence, saying the judgment "gives insufficient weight to the gravity of Duch's crimes."

Duch has also filed his own appeal, seeking acquittal for what he says were legal errors made by the tribunal.

The judges presiding over Duch's case said they took into consideration the historical context of the Khmer Rouge atrocities: The 1975-79 regime was the product of the Cold War times.

They also recognized that Duch — unlike any of the others in detention — was not in the Khmer Rouge's inner circle, had cooperated with the court and shown expressions of remorse, however "limited."

But they flatly rejected Duch's claims that he merely was acting on orders from the top or that he was a "cog in the machine" who could not get out.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Interference with the Administration of Justice: A Genius Resolution

The issue of summoning high-level officials of the Cambodian government to testify before a court in a trial fraught with political implications is a hot potato. The Office of the Co-Investigating Judges (OCIJ) and the Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) have been passing it back and forth for the last over a year. Neither institution wanted to be the one ordering coercive action to compel the 6 highly placed witnesses to appear before the court. In the process the line in the sand between the Cambodian jurists of the both institutions and their international counterparts was drawn (and now is pronounced enough to see from a flying over plane). Statements of government officials which, among other things, told the international jurists of the ECCC to pack up and leave if they were not going to toe the government’s line on the 6 witnesses did not help the confidence of the Cambodian judicial personnel of the ECCC who made a clean break with their international counterparts on this issue and made sure it was seen that way. Throughout this frustrating process the defense – which initiated the original request for investigation involving the 6 witnesses – would not relent. In fact, it kept filing request for investigation after request for investigation and when they were ignored or dealt with to the defense’s dissatisfaction they filed more. This perseverance eventuated in the rule of critical mass working out for the defense. The PTC finally felt compelled to resolve this situation by going beyond handing down a judicial interpretation of the interference rule of the IRs (Rule 35).

The PTC intervened this time by dreaming up 3 standards of proof which it believes undergird Rule 35. Although these standards are not illogical, by PTC’s own admission they do not appear anywhere in the text of Rule 35. This did not stop the PTC from applying them in this case (this is in the good tradition of this tribunal which never balked at the fact that a particular measure it would be about to authorize did not appear anywhere in the text of the law (the existence of the IRs is a glaring example of the powers of the ECCC’s imagination when it comes to reading the ECCC Law and the ECCC Agreement)). The international judges of the PTC (who are clearly the once responsible for the ‘decision of the chamber’ – as opposed to the opinions filed by the international and national judges separately) even managed to find that contempt attracted a criminal sanction while the Cambodian law – which for reasons unbeknownst to me is of no consequence to the PTC – does not criminally punish the interference with the administration of justice (the PTC could have recognized this fact and declared it inconsistent with the relevant international standard but it chose to pretermit Cambodian law altogether instead). After this lengthy legal preamble, the PTC stated that there was no agreement in its ranks on whether the Cambodian government’s encouragement given to the 6 witnesses not to appear before the ECCC was sufficient cause for an investigation.

From here the PTC international judges and their national counterparts went their separate ways. The internationals proceed to chastise the CIJs for not applying the PTC’s definition of Rule 35 and not giving a reasoned opinion as to why they chose not to do so (considering they were enjoined to do exactly that by the PTC). The nationals proceeded by arguing that the word ‘should’ is different from the word ‘shall’ in the degree of imperativeness and that the impugned minister may or may not have spoken in his official capacity or even if he did, his position being inferior to any of the 6 witnesses would not give his words the power of a directive. The two sides disagreed on the fundamental question, i.e. whether there are sufficient grounds to order an investigation into the allegations of interference with the administration of justice raised by the defense. This has brought the essence of this decision to a simple conclusion – there is no decision; there are two opposed opinions but no decision.

Who benefits from this decision? Everyone. The international judges come out emblazoned with a big V for ‘valor’ for having stood their ground and being defenders of the right to a fair trial. The national judges defended the reputation of the government (which is what they are on the court to do; the only people who question that are some international observers while this matter is firmly settled locally). The CIJs – albeit having been lambasted by the international judges of the PTC and having lost some face – will go on undaunted and secure in the fact that they will not have to deal with this issue anymore. And lastly the defense which got the ultimate prize – great grounds for mitigation arguments of the sentences of their clients (which no doubt was the defense sole reason for raising these allegations and carrying them through all along as no reasonable observer ever bought the defense’s argument that they really expected the 6 witnesses to deliver invaluable exculpatory evidence (this said, it must be noted that the defense had every right to demand that these – and any other witnesses – be summoned). Overall, this is a genius decision – there was a lot of bluster and yet nothing happened that would have brought this situation to a breaking point of these proceedings and denied the institutions and persons involved a bit of face-saving and a reasonably graceful exit.

Political Interference at ECCC: an Opinion


By Della Sentilles

On 26 July 2010 the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (“ECCC”) is scheduled to announce its first verdict in the Khmer Rouge tribunals. The verdict for Guek Eav Kaing, alias “Duch,” the former head of S-21, one of the most notorious prisons under the Khmer Rouge, will be an historic occasion for both Cambodians and the international community. Not only will it be a sign of progress, as the war-ravaged country continues to rebuild itself, it may also mark a significant milestone for international human rights advocates who have worked tirelessly to bring this unique, hybrid tribunal into being.

The work of the ECCC is a new experiment in international law and it has generated its fair share of criticism. Recently, the Open Society Justice Initiative (“OSJI”) released a report alleging political interference by the Royal Government of Cambodia (“Cambodia”) in the court’s proceedings. The report supports its allegations with two principal examples: (1) the controversy over pursuing five additional suspects for cases 003 and 004; and (2) the refusal of six high-ranking government officials to submit to questioning by the office of the co-investigating judges.

While some criticism of the Cambodian justice system and the ECCC itself may be merited, and indeed useful, the OSJI report is flawed for a number of reasons. First, the report infers that political interference in the ECCC is inevitable based on studies that focus primarily on Cambodia’s domestic court system. Secondly, the dispute over cases 003 and 004 provides evidence that the tribunal’s internal rules are effective in checking political interference. Thirdly, the government officials’ refusal to cooperate is actually more an example of the United Nations’ (“UN”) inaction and even impotence rather than political interference. And finally, the OSJI report overlooks the significance of the ECCC in both the development of Cambodian law and international criminal law.

OSJI inferences of political interference based on studies are invalid

The OSJI report uses studies on the inadequacy of Cambodia’s domestic courts as evidence of the ECCC’s short comings. Yet the report fails to cite a single study that supports allegations of political interference in the ECCC proceedings. In fact, most of the studies cited refer solely to Cambodia’s domestic courts and were written prior to February 2009, when the Duch trial began. For instance, a report from the Cambodian League for the Promotion of Defense and Human Rights was completed in 2007. Two other reports, one from Human Rights Watch and another from Amnesty International, were published in April 2003.

Further, no reports from the United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, two of which are cited by OSJI, allege bias or political interference in the ECCC proceedings. The US report from 2008 only mentions the ECCC in one paragraph under its section on public trials.3[3] The report from 2009 goes so far as to suggest that allegations of political interference in the ECCC are unfounded:

There were no allegations of corruption in the court's administration during the year. Some observers believed that public comments by government leaders on matters related to the ECCC's jurisdictional
mandate constituted a form of political interference; however, there was no evidence that the work of the court was inhibited in any way, and national authorities successfully fulfilled their responsibility to
apprehend and hand over to the tribunal all individuals indicted by the ECCC.

The OSJI report also cites an evaluation of the ECCC by Carolyn Dubay, associated editor of the International Judicial Reporter. Like OSJI, Dubay bases her criticism of the ECCC primarily on reports regarding the inadequacy of Cambodia’s existing domestic court system. The article largely speculates that Cambodia’s lack of an educated judiciary and fair trial practices in domestic trials will spill over into the ECCC. In fact, the only specific allegation of corruption at the ECCC refers to an internal audit from January 2007 investigating the use of UN tribunal funds as kickbacks for court employees. Additionally Dubay concludes her report by acknowledging that despite the potential domestic obstacles, “tangible effects of the presence of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in terms of domestic and international focus on accountability proceedings and investing in reforming the justice sector are positive.”

It is misleading to suggest political interference in the ECCC is inevitable because such interference is rampant in Cambodia’s domestic judiciary. It also tends to undermine the public legitimacy of the ECCC.

While technically the ECCC is part of the domestic judiciary, it is by no means the same. The whole point of establishing the ECCC was to make sure it was separate from and different than the rest of Cambodia’s legal system.

As the OSJI report acknowledges, there are substantial checks against political interference written into the Agreement between the UN and the Royal Government of Cambodia. Specifically, the report outlines three safeguards: (1) the requirement that judicial decisions by made by a supermajority vote; (2) a weighted dispute resolution procedure to resolve disagreements between the co-prosecutorsand co-investigating judges; and (3) an express provision allowing the UN to withdraw its assistance if the
Cambodian government fails to comply with the Agreement.

The OSJI report suggests that these three checks are inadequate. Yet it bases these assumptions largely on speculation and hypothetical situations. In fact, the report acknowledges that thus far the supermajority vote, which requires that at least one international judge side with the national judges, has not been a problem. The report concludes that during the Duch trial, the supermajority requirement “did not appear to prove an obstacle in the trial itself.”6[6] Furthermore, when the trial chamber judges
failed to reach a unanimous decision on other trial-related matters, the split was not along national and international lines, which again suggests that political interference by the Cambodian government was not an issue at least on those points.

The Disagreement Over Cases 003 and 004

The OSJI report is correct in asserting that the nature of the disagreement over whether to pursue cases 003 and 004 suggests political interference. Prime Minister Hun Sen and other government officials’ remarks in support of the national co-prosecutor’s refusal to refer cases 003 and 004 and the co-investigating judge’s delay in initiating the investigation of those cases further support this allegation.
Yet the effect of that interference appears to have been minimized by the rules set up in anticipation of such disagreements. Rule 72 of the ECCC’s internal rules states that when there is a disagreement between co-investigating judges “the action or decision which is subject of the disagreement shall be executed.”7[7] Although You Bunleng, the national co-investigating judge, is not yet working on cases 003 and 004, Marcel Lemonde, the international co-investigating judge, is going forward. Lemonde’s decision and ability to pursue cases 003 and 004 suggests that the tribunal’s checks on political interference are actually effective.

It is also important to keep the dispute over cases 003 and 004 in perspective. It is no secret that there has been a major disagreement between the international community and the Cambodian government over the scope of the tribunal. While the UN has publicly stated it would like to try as many as twenty former Khmer Rouge leaders, the Cambodian government has stated it would prefer to limit the number to five. The refusal of national officials to charge or investigate more suspects should not be a surprise. What should be surprising is that You Bunleng initially signed on to pursue the investigations of cases 003 and 004. While his reneging is unfortunate, his initial willingness suggests he may ultimately agree to investigate the crimes. In a letter to Lemonde, You Bunleng did not say that he was against the investigations only that he was not ready to make a decision until September 2010, when the closing order for case 002 is completed. You Bunleng’s decision in September will be an important test of the efficacy of the tribunal’s internal rules.

The Noncompliance of Government Officials

OSJI is right to assert that the six high-ranking government officials’ refusal to cooperate with the office of the co-investigating judges is problematic. It is also correct in admonishing the Cambodian government for its public support of the officials. Yet such meddling can and should be checked by both the UN and other international court officials. For instance, Rule 60(3) allows a co-investigating judge to order the judicial police to compel the witness to appear.10[10] No one has invoked such a provision.

The OSJI report does lay part of the blame on the United Nations and its inaction. What the report does not acknowledge enough, however, is that political interference is a two-way street: if and when the Cambodian government gets in the way of ECCC proceedings, the international community, especially ECCC officials, are obliged to step in and to use the resources provided in the Agreement and the internal rules to address the matter. As stated above, it is because of these safeguards that the ECCC should be differentiated from a regular domestic court in Cambodia.

Placing the ECCC in context

Cambodia is a nation struggling to rebuild itself. And its judiciary is no exception. What is frustrating about the OSJI report, and others like it, is that it bases its evaluation on a few speculative examples and Cambodia’s stunted past. While a healthy dose of valid criticism may be constructive, it is also important to remember that the ECCC is in large part an experiment in international criminal law. Since the late 1990s, the international legal community has been advocating a shift away from larger and costlier tribunals toward smaller, hybrid tribunals like the ECCC in Cambodia. This movement is supported by the Rome Statute, which not only advocates victim participation but also limits the jurisdiction of International Criminal Courts so as to encourage domestic courts to take the lead. Specifically, the ICC jurisdiction is limited to trying alleged war criminals, if and only if, the domestic courts are unwilling or unable to try them -- the idea being that by locating war crimes tribunals within post-conflict societies, the tribunals not only offer the local population the opportunity to be active participants, but also provide practitioners, judges and lawyers alike, the opportunity to incorporate international standards into developing domestic law.

Like any experiment, the ECCC has had its fair share of setbacks – the thirty-year delay in justice, the derailed negotiations between Cambodia and the United Nations, the internal disputes between co-investigating judges and co-prosecutors. But experiments also carry an extraordinary amount of potential: it is quite possible the ECCC can change the way the international community thinks about the role and function of war crime tribunals today and going forward. What is happening in Cambodia today is revolutionary: Never before have victims had the chance to be civil parties in the proceedings. Never before have over 30,000 nationals visited their nation’s war crime tribunal. Never before have over 2 million nationals watched the proceedings on television. The ECCC has the potential, then, not only to deliver legal justice but also restorative, social justice to Cambodia and its people.

Public Opinion Poll on ECCC Witnesses

ECCC: Are All Witnesses Treated Equally and Fairly?

Sothida Sin

November 2009

In the Cambodian court system there are judges, defense lawyers, prosecutors, investigating judges and witnesses. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), also known as the Khmer Rouge tribunal, is a mixed trial staffed by Cambodians and United Nations officials that follows the Cambodian court system. Like in Cambodian courts, witnesses are considered crucial in disclosing to the ECCC what happened in a particular period in the past. Only eye witnesses can tell past events.

However, no government officials, who are believed to have experienced and witnessed past events, have been summoned to be witnesses and testify at the ECCC. Below are students’ opinions regarding the treatment and summoning of witnesses to testify at the Khmer Rouge tribunal. These students attend high school at Krouch Chhmar High School in Kampong Cham province.

17-year-old Oudam says that all witnesses have to be treated equally; no matter what background they are from and social status they have they must accept the court’s invitation to be witnesses. A witness who refuses to testify could make the court become biased; additionally, it is not right for witnesses to reject the court’s requests. It also leads the country to be less democratic. Although one is high-ranking in the government, he/she must accept the court’s summons to testify in court for the sake of transparency and fairness. Everyone has to be under the law because the court is an independent institution. A witness is a mirror who can reflect what happened in the past in order to seek justice for Khmer Rouge survivors.

Menglaing, an 18-year-old eleventh grade student, says that the ECCC is not independent from the government. The government dominates and influences the court and witnesses are not treated equally. If ordinary people reject the court’s summons, the court might bring them to the court. However, the court does not take the same action with high-ranking government officials if they reject the summons. This reflects the corruption in the court. This problem needs to be addressed immediately to ensure that the court provides justice. The court must be independent from the government and any high-ranking official. “If one is summoned to testify in court, he/she needs to come and cannot use his/her power to reject,” says Menglaing.

Ty is seventeen years old. He says that the court does not treat witnesses fairly. Witnesses need to accept the court’s invitation. The court should use every means possible to make sure that any witnesses invited come to testify in court. Witnesses are important to provide justice to survivors and to offer truth to the next generation. Ty also thinks that the ECCC is corrupt since it cannot summon government officials to testify. However, the court remains silent and does not give reasons for this to the public.

Chhuos Suoty, aged 17, mentions that “the court does not treat witnesses fairly because it is a non-independent institution. Independent courts are not under the influence of any official or institution. Witnesses need to come at the request of this independent court.” If any official rejects the court’s invitation, the court must take immediate action to force them to come.

However, 19-year-old and twelfth grade high school student Silna describes testifying in court as very important to providing truth to the court so that judges can make a decision. Silna believes that the court does not treat witnesses fairly because high-ranking government officials do not come to testify in court and the court does not take any action to make them come. This can mean that the court is not independent. The court should take the same actions with the high-ranking officials who reject to testify as they do with everyone else.

In order for witnesses to be treated fairly, the national courts and the Khmer Rouge tribunal must be independent from the government. Furthermore, the ECCC should seek other means to ensure that government officials who are summoned to be witnesses at this mixed court testify. The ECCC should be a model and an unbiased trial. As such, the court will be supported by the public.

Pre-Trial Chamber Rules on Political Interference

Friday, 10 September 2010 16:23 James O'Toole

In a decision published online today, the Khmer Rouge tribunal's Pre-Trial Chamber issued a rare split decision on whether an investigation into alleged political interference by the Cambodian government in the work of the court is warranted. International judges Rowan Downing and Catherine Marchi-Uhel called such an investigation "imperative... to ensure that the charged persons are provided with a fair trial". Cambodian judges Prak Kimsan, Ney Thol and Huot Vuthy said, however, that the court's Co-Investigating Judges were right to conclude that no investigation was necessary. In the absence of a super-majority of judges, the appeal by lawyers for Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea asking for investigation was dismissed.

In their opinions, the judges focused largely on statements given last year by Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, who said the government opposed the summoning of six senior ruling party officials by the court, and that foreign jurists upset with the decision could "pack their clothes and return home". The six summoned were Senate President Chea Sim, National Assembly President Heng Samrin, senators Ouk Bunchhoeun and Sim Ka, Minister of Finance Keat Chhon and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong; none have appeared before the court. Prime Minister Hun Sen said he too opposed the summones, as they could create procedural unfairness for the defendants.

The split between the international and Cambodian judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber echoes earlier disagreements between foreign and domestic court officials. Pending investigations in the court's third and fourth cases are currently being conducted unilaterally by International Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde, in the absence of support from Cambodian judge You Bunleng; the Cambodian Pre-Trial Chamber judges and Cambodian prosecutor Chea Leang have also registered their opposition to the investigations.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge Tribunal Legacy Found in Communities Around Country

Robert Carmichael, VOA
Battambang, Cambodia
As an international tribunal in Cambodia prepares to charge four Khmer Rouge leaders with genocide, some people are looking ahead to what will be left behind when the court finally closes its doors.

On the outskirts of Battambang stands the Wat Samroung Knong. Today this Buddhist temple is tranquil, but when the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, it was anything but.

Crimes against humanity

Wat Samroung Knong was a killing site, one of hundreds scattered around the country. Then the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge emptied the cities and tried to create a utopian, agrarian society. In the process, well over a million people died of starvation and disease, or were executed by the Khmer Rouge.

The temple's current leader, Acha Thun Sovath, was a young monk when the Khmer Rouge came in 1975. He was forced to quit the monkhood and work in the rice fields.

Many other monks were executed, as the Khmer Rouge banned religion in the effort to reshape Cambodian society.

Acha Thun Sovath says more than 10,000 people were tortured and executed at the temple, their bodies dumped in its ponds.

Stories of mass killings are commonplace across the country. Yet many young people do not believe Cambodians committed such horrific acts against each other.

Acha Thun Sovath says that does not surprise him.

He says now he is an old man, but back in 1974 when he heard people talking about how the Khmer Rouge were killing monks and ordinary people, he did not believe it either.


Daravuth Seng is a Cambodian-American lawyer who until recently headed a group called the Center for Justice and Reconciliation, or CJR.

On a tour of the temple, Seng says Wat Samroung Knong's history makes it fitting as a location for what are known as legacy projects – something tangible that will be left behind once the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh finally closes its doors in a few years.

CJR worked with Acha Thun Sovath and the nearby community to build a learning center, which has taken shape over one of the pools that was used as a mass grave. The building – a wooden structure on stilts that stands over the large pond - is nearly finished.

Daravuth Seng explains its purpose.

"Our hope is a physical space for them to come together and also explore, and to have documentation available so that some of these accounts do correlate with what my parents, or aunts and uncles, or surviving relatives have actually mentioned," Seng said.

Seng says the center is unique, because the community was deeply involved in its planning, and also provided materials and time to build it.

The center is one of a number of legacy projects under way or being discussed.


In Phnom Penh, the international tribunal this year has sentenced one senior member of the Khmer Rouge for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Four others are to face trial in the coming year. The tribunal's goal is to bring the few surviving Khmer Rouge leaders to justice, and to build a legacy helps Cambodia recover from its past.

Michelle Staggs Kelsall heads the tribunal monitoring project for the East-West Center, a research institute in the U.S. state of Hawaii, and has written about legacy projects at other international tribunals.

She says the most important legacy of the court is arguably the goal of improving Cambodia's judiciary by transferring the good legal practices being used at the court.

Documenting history

Another important area is ensuring the people have a historical account of what happened under Khmer Rouge rule.

One court-sanctioned project is a so-called virtual tribunal – a database of all the court documents for future generations to view.

Staggs Kelsall says the Khmer Rouge tribunal's legacy program is in an embryonic stage, but that is not unusual: Legacy issues typically become more important the longer the tribunal is in existence.

Back at Wat Samroung Knong, Acha Thun Sovath says the learning center is a vital opportunity to educate the next generation.

He says they will never forget and they must always remember what happened at these buildings so they can tell the next generation and let them know about the people who died under the Khmer Rouge.

Daravuth Seng says the completed center will cost around $10,000. He wants to see this sort of low-cost, self-sustaining project replicated across the country.

He says the tribunal was set up to provide legal justice, and has proved an essential starting point for the process of national reconciliation.

But projects like this center will provide a permanent voice for the community to learn what happened.

And that, he says, very much fits one of the points of the tribunal: To help the Cambodian people learn from their own tragic history.

UN Expert Arrives to Assay Tribunal Progress

Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Phnom Penh
The UN's special envoy for the Khmer Rouge tribunal has undertaken a series of meetings this week to report on the progress of the UN-backed court and weigh in on future funding.

UN Special Expert Clint Williamson told VOA Khmer Friday night he would not only be looking into fundraising but also “a number of issues related to the operation of the court.”

Williamson, the former US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, arrived in Cambodia Wednesday night and met with court officials Thursday and Friday. He is expected to meet with Cabinet Minister Sok An, who oversees the court for the government, next week.

The tribunal has experienced cash-flow problems this year, with some donors reluctant to fund a court facing staff allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

In a report issued Thursday, the Open Society Justice Initiative said the tribunal suffers from fractured leadership and would require “effective and sustained high-level UN deal with the political, funding and management problems facing the court.”

In Need of a New Study

In 2009, University of California at Berkeley's Human Rights Center published a study entitled "So We Will Never Forget" which was designed to measure 2 aspects of the ECCC which are of concern to this discussion: (1) public awareness of the ECCC and (2) the desire for justice and reparations for crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. At the time, the study found that 39% of the population were not aware of the existence of the ECCC. Unaware of the relevant provisions of the ECCC's Internal Rules (IRs), 88% of the responses expected reparations to be paid directly to the victims. Further on the question of reparations the study found out that 26% of the respondents believed that reparations should come in the form of support to agriculture; 23% said it should come as healthcare and counseling (while I have no trouble with the aspiration for healthcare, it is hard to imagine that Cambodian respondents would name 'counseling' as one of the remedies sought; however, it is not the purpose of this discussion to quesiton any aspect of this study); 22% -- financial support; 17 -- punishment of the persons responsible for the crimes. 64% of the responded answered "none" when asked how many times they had heard about the ECCC in the previous month. 67% of the respondents expressed a belief that the ECCC process would further national reconciliation.

The above numbers were based on the first 2 1/2 years of operation of the Chambers (which were only supposed to be in operation for 3 years under the original mandate) and are interesting today for a variety of reasons. One, the period of operation of the ECCC was, in a manner of speaking, non-public as most of the work of the Court was structural or procedural and as such of no interest to an ordinary person or investigative and as such shrouded in secrecy (the justification for which was often elusive (such as the keeping the press off of the premises of the Cheoung Ek killing field during the reenactment of events ordered by the Co-Investigating Judges). The first trial of the ECCC got underway shortly after the publication of this study. The trial was reasonably well covered by the local media with its proceedings being discussed on the radio and shown on television (with the pronouncement of the judgment broadcast in full). This media attention doubtless sparked more interest in the proceedings and brought them to the homes of many (virtually anyone with access to a TV or a radio). The judgment in the first case of the ECCC contained a section on reparations which sparked a controversy in the NGO community. After a major event such as this court's first trial another study is in order which will be most instructive in finding out where the perception of the ECCC has changed after the first trial and if so how; whether as many Cambodians still believe that this court is capable in bringing about more perfect reconciliation; whether the new generation has become more ethused about finding out about their parents and grandparents' past; whether Cambodians are content with the type of reparations this court is prepared to offer; and whether most Cambodians believe that the court meted out a fitting punishment for the first accused's crimes; and finally whether more Cambodians are now aware that this court exists.