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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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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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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Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan Found Guilty of Crimes against Humanity

New York (August 7, 2014)—Today’s conviction for crimes against humanity of the two most senior surviving leaders of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime marks a historic milestone both for international justice, and for Cambodia’s effort to confront its violent past.

Judges at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) sentenced both Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan to life imprisonment, after a trial focused on atrocities committed during the evacuation of Cambodian cities and town in 1975, and the executions of civil servants and military officers from the defeated regime.

Nuon Chea was the second most senior leader in the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979; Khieu Samphan served both as foreign minister and as head of state.

The … Continue Reading

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Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Tribunal Must Protect Suspects’ Rights

NEW YORK—The Open Society Justice Initiative is urging the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to ensure the proper protection of the rights of suspects who are the focus of two court investigations that have not yet come to trial.

The investigations into the cases, known as 003 and 004, are being led by Mark Harmon, the tribunal’s international co-investigating judge. The Cambodian co-investigating judge that Harmon is supposed to work with has refused to cooperate with the effort, while the Cambodian government has said it does not want the cases to proceed.

The two cases were first transferred to the co-investigating judges in September 2009, after an initial investigation by the tribunal’s co-prosecutors. Media reports have said the investigations … Continue Reading

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Decisions Needed Now to Ensure Fullest Possible Trial for Khmer Rouge Leaders

NEW YORK—The Open Society Justice Initiative is urging the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to take the necessary steps now to ensure that the trial process of two of the most senior surviving former leaders of the Khmer Rouge covers the full scope of charges against them.

The two defendants, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, have so far only faced charges in a trial focused on the evacuation of Phnom Penh in April, 1975, and events at an execution site outside the city; given the mass of the alleged crimes and the advanced age of the defendants, the court opted to defer other charges to one or more subsequent trials.

Khieu Samphan served as Khmer Rouge foreign minister and … Continue Reading

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Planning and Leadership Now Needed at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

The Open Society Justice Initiative has published a new position paper which looks at the challenges facing the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), as the first trial of two former senior Khmer Rouge leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, moves towards its conclusion. The Open Society Justice Initiative is calling on all involved with the court to display honest leadership and to respond appropriately to the evident constraints on time, funding and political support that it now faces.

The ECCC was established in 2004 by a joint agreement between the United Nations and the government of Cambodia, and uses a mix of international and local judges and staff. It began proceedings in 2007.

The tribunal has successfully completed one case, … Continue Reading

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Troubled Khmer Rouge Investigation Raises New Transparency Concerns

Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal, officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), has been steadily continuing with the trial of two former senior Khmer Khmer Rouge leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, even as an investigation continues into two further possible cases, known as Cases 003 and 004.

The current trial remains beset by concerns about the health of the ageing defendants, and Nuon Chea in particular, following the death of co-defendant Ieng Sary and a ruling that his wife Ieng Thirith is not mentally fit to stand trial.

But a new issue is now facing the ECCC (which combines Cambodian and international judges, court officials and staff) linked once again to the persistent question of whether these … Continue Reading

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