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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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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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.


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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Time to Acknowledge Obstruction of Khmer Rouge Prosecutions

NEW YORK—International officials working with the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia must publicly acknowledge that the Cambodian government is now deliberately obstructing the court’s work, or risk undermining its integrity and reputation, according to a new report from the Open Society Justice Initiative released this week.

In its latest survey of recent developments at the court, the Justice Initiative highlights the failure of Cambodia’s judicial police to execute an arrest warrant against either of two individuals charged on March 3 with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Subsequently, the court announced that the two accused, Im Chaem and Meas Muth, had been charged in absentia. This procedure is not provided for in the rules of the court, officially known as the … Continue Reading

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Cambodia Must Cooperate with New Khmer Rouge Prosecution Process

The Open Society Justice Initiative is urging the Cambodian government to fully meet its commitments to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, following the tribunal’s decision to charge two alleged former Khmer Rouge senior leaders with crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The court announced on Tuesday, March 3, that the international investigating judge has issued charges against Meas Muth, the former Khmer Rouge naval commander, and Im Chaem, a senior regional commander.

The charges stem from a long running investigation that has been consistently opposed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government figures. The investigation has also been resisted by Cambodian judges who share investigative responsibilities with international judges on the hybrid tribunal.

The charges against Meas Muth … Continue Reading

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Preserving History: The Importance of Archives at the Extraordinary Chambers

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) currently faces pressing challenges, including the health of Khieu Samphan, an accused along with Nuon Chea in the current Case 002/02; and the apparent refusal of Cambodian Judicial Police to carry out court orders. But the court also faces a number of long term challenges. Some of these, such as fundraising, are well known but others aren’t as obvious and don’t receive sufficient attention. One often overlooked long term challenge is preserving the ECCC’s archives.

One of the central reasons for creating the ECCC is to help establish the historical record of Khmer Rouge era crimes and increase our understanding of that era. The ECCC’s archives are a critical component of that … Continue Reading

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