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.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Swedish Court Orders Reparations in Rwandan Genocide Case

On May 16 2016, many in Sweden were nonplussed by media headlines to the tune of 'Swede Convicted for His Role in Rwandan Genocide.' The putative "Swede" was in fact a Rwandan man, named Claver Berinkindi, who acquired Swedish citizenship a mere 4 years prior, which considerably brought down the original astonishment that "a Swede" somehow was responsible for the Rwandan Genocide (perhaps, calling a Rwandan man who obtained Swedish citizenship at age 57 "a Swede" was a tad of a stretch).

What is, however, more pertinent for this forum is that upon having convicted Berinkindi, the District Court of Stockholm ordered reparations. It is not any less significant that all the civil parties in the case reside in Rwanda with no connection to Sweden. Yet, the court ordered to open the Swedish coffers for compensation, ranging from about US$3,800 to a little under $13,000. Naturally, the lowest of that range is paltry by the Swedish standards, with an average monthly salary in Sweden's capital being about US$3,000. It is, however, my understanding that the court used the Rwandan award structure to arrive at the above amounts. There is a lesson in this for ECCC. First, this shows that there is a deep-seated national-jurisdiction standard of monetary reparations (it is a fantasy of exceptionally well-remunerated employees of the ECCC that an average Cambodian will consider a monument or a street plaque as a form of reparations) awarded to civil parties in criminal cases; that is the case under Swedish law and that is the case under Cambodian law, as well. Second, contrary to the ECCC-created dogma, reparations even for the gravest of crimes can be calculated and courts of law are well-equipped to do so. Third, there should be no criminal process for mass crimes under the law of countries where reparations are part of the criminal process if those countries have no way of or will to pay reparations, as if no money is involved in the criminal process, the latter becomes nothing more than a venue for academically inclined lawyers to exercise their intellectual chops and, generally, for years of navel-gazing and history writing or re-writing; I have consistently said on this forum that that is not the purpose or the scope of the criminal process and that academic efforts should be taken outside courts of law and placed where they belong -- college campuses. 

This example, once again, shows that ECCC has to order monetary reparations in the event the prosecution prevails in court. This is not a matter of some highfalutin moral crusade but that of a command of the Cambodian law. The Swedish example reinforces that commands by showing that the same reparations rules apply to mass crimes cases as to ordinary criminal cases -- reparations are ordered if the prosecution prevails in court. It is very simple and only subject to debate as to the modalities of accommodating everyone who might want to become a civil party to one of the cases before ECCC.            


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