International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Concerns over Bid to Wrap Up Outstanding Investigations at Cambodia’s ECCC

The Open Society Justice Initiative, which has been monitoring events at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia since before the tribunal opened proceedings in 2007, has expressed its concern about an apparent bid by the ECCC’s two investigating judges to put a permanent stay on its their three outstanding cases.

The proposal was made on May 5, 2017, by the two co-investigating judges, Michael Bohlander and You Bunleng, in a highly unconventional “confidential request” to the court. Although filed under seal, the filing was then leaked to the press; subsequently the two judges publicly acknowledged its existence and basic substance.

In the filing, they announced that they are preparing to issue a “permanent stay” of the three cases they are currently responsible for … Continue Reading

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ECCC Supreme Court Affirms Life Sentences for Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea while Criticizing Trial

On November 23, 2016, the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts in Cambodia (ECCC) affirmed the life sentence convictions given to Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan by the lower Trial Chamber in August, 2014. However, the Supreme Court was severely critical of some aspects of the handling of the trial of the two surviving senior Khmer Rouge leaders by the lower court.

The entire ruling is 512 pages long. We invite you to download our 7-page summary and analysis of the main points of the judgment [pdf].

Both two men remain on trial on a second set of charges arising from their role in genocide and crimes against humanity committed by the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled Cambodia from April 1975 … Continue Reading

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The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts in Cambodia: Lessons in Human Rights Ignored by Cambodian Government

This update on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) notes with concern the current climate of repression of human rights and political freedom in Cambodia.  It also addresses progress on Case 002 and delays in completion of the investigations in Cases 003 and 004.

Current Human Rights Violations

The ECCC was designed to deliver justice for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge period and promote much needed improvement in Cambodia with regard to respect for human rights and basic rule of law principles. The Open Society Justice Initiative has written about ways in which the ECCC’s positive impact on national judicial processes has been limited because of the government’s political failure to support reform.

Actions of the government over the … Continue Reading

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Lessons from Cambodia for Hybrid Tribunals in Sri Lanka and Central African Republic: Part III of III

This guest post is written by Heather Ryan, who is currently monitoring the ECCC for compliance with international standards and best practices. Part I of this three-part series is available here, and Part II is available here. The views expressed below do not necessarily reflect the views of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

This post will focus on lessons from the hybrid tribunal established in Cambodia, the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts in Cambodia (ECCC), which may be applicable to establishing proposed hybrid tribunals in Sri Lanka and Central Africa Republic (CAR). In particular, it will look at how hybrid tribunals can ensure that the court remains relevant to and serves victims and affected communities.

Building Domestic Capacity. Building needed domestic legal … Continue Reading

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New Report Sees Progress at Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Tribunal

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has made significant progress recently, according to the last monitoring report from the Open Society Justice Initiative, including hearing testimony related to genocide against Cambodia’s Cham and ethnic Vietnamese populations in the second trial of defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

The court also brought charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity against Yim Tith, a suspect in Case 004, which is one of the two outstanding cases against second tier Khmer Rouge leaders that have been opposed by the Cambodian government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In addition, the accused in Case 003, Meas Muth, appeared personally for charging on a revised and shortened list of crimes. His appearance rendered … Continue Reading

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Lessons from Cambodia for Hybrid Tribunals in Sri Lanka and Central African Republic: Part II of III

This guest post was written by Heather Ryan, who is currently monitoring the ECCC for compliance with international standards and best practices. Part I of her three-part series is available here. The views expressed below do not necessarily reflect the views of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

This post (the second in a series of three) will focus on lessons that can be drawn from the hybrid tribunal established in Cambodia―known as the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts in Cambodia (ECCC)―to inform proposed hybrid tribunals in Sri Lanka and Central Africa Republic (CAR).

When the ECCC was established in 2006, Cambodia faced challenges regarding its legal capacity, judicial independence, public legitimacy, and domestic political will. Similar challenges are faced in Sri Lanka … Continue Reading

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Lessons from Cambodia for Hybrid Tribunals in Sri Lanka and Central African Republic: Part I of III

This guest post is written by Heather Ryan, who is currently monitoring the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) for compliance with international standards and best practices. The views expressed below do not necessarily reflect the views of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Efforts are underway to establish hybrid tribunals to address impunity for mass atrocities and violations of international criminal law in both Sri Lanka and the Central African Republic. The design of these tribunals must be guided by the unique circumstances of the conflicts that gave rise to them and to the political and legal situations in which they will operate. But it is also important that these courts, if they are established—which is not certain at … Continue Reading

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New Report Notes Lack of UN Response to Political Interference at Khmer Rouge Tribunal

The latest update on legal developments at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) from the Open Society Justice Initiative highlights the continuing lack of a response from the UN to the Cambodian government’s failure to support two additional cases brought before the court by its international co-investigating judge.

The 8-page report notes that that the ECCC has made steady progress in the Case 002.2 trial against Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, and is now addressing genocide charges related to the treatment of Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese by the Khmer Rouge.

Meanwhile, appeal proceedings in the first trial judgment against the same accused continue, with requests for, and the hearing of, additional testimony before the Supreme Court Chamber.

But while a … Continue Reading

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Potential Hazard: ECCC Trial Chamber Considers Expanded Use of Evidence Tainted by Torture

The Khmer Rouge regime was notorious for torturing confessions from persons considered to be enemies. The collection of written confessions recovered from Toul Sleng, the most infamous of the Khmer Rouge torture and execution prisons, runs over 40,000 pages. The ongoing trial at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) against Nuon Chea, known as “Brother Number Two,” and Khieu Samphan, Head of State during the regime, includes allegations of torture as a part of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. Both the prosecution and the defense have asked the Trial Chamber to rule on the admissibility of evidence obtained in connection with torture committed by the Khmer Rouge.

The ECCC is mandated to apply international law principles, … Continue Reading

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ECCC Judicial Appointments: An Opportunity for the UN to Translate its Aspirations into Tangible Outcomes

Clair Duffy is an International Legal Consultant and former Khmer Rouge Tribunal Monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative (late 2010 to early 2013). The views expressed herein are the author’s own views and do not necessarily reflect those of any organization with whom the author has previously been affiliated.

Introduction

The United Nations has a series of Security Council Resolutions stressing the imperative of women in decision making positions in peace and security issues (see especially 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1960 (2010), 2106 (2013), and 2122 (2013)). Just last month, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action—a global blueprint for the empowerment of women—Executive Director of UN Women, … Continue Reading

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