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.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

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.      


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