International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

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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The Funding Challenge for Reparations in Cambodia

The Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia was the first international court to give victims a formal voice in a major atrocities trial. Victims of the Khmer Rouge mass crimes committed in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 are civil parties to the trial process, participating with many of the same rights as the prosecutors and the defense. They may also request the court to order reparations. In Case 002.1, nearing completion on crimes against humanity charges against the surviving senior leaders of the regime, 3,866 victims have been admitted as civil parties.

The ECCC has adapted the Cambodian domestic civil party participation system to address both the logistics of dealing with the large number of victims involved, and the fact that the … 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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March 2013: Recent Developments at the ECCC

The death of Ieng Sary, one of the three accused in Case 002 at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, cast into sharp relief the many delays and difficulties that threaten to deny justice to the victims of the Khmer Rouge. The court continues to struggle with Case 002, while the specter of political interference haunts Cases 003 and 004, and a funding crisis hangs over the entire institution. Click here for a link to this 20 page report, which examines recent events at the court and offers recommendations for action by the UN, the Royal Government of Cambodia, and the court’s donors.

This is the latest in a series of reports on the ECCC by the Open Society Justice Initiative, … Continue Reading

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Time is Running out for Justice at Khmer Rouge Court

NEW YORK—The Open Society Justice Initiative is calling on the international community to do all it can to ensure the effective operation of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, following the death of one of the three remaining senior former Khmer Rouge defendants currently on trial before the tribunal.

The death at the age of 87 of Ieng Sary, who had been hospitalized since March 4, comes as the court has been forced to suspend local staff due to its inability to pay their salaries, while cutting back sessions due to budget constraints resulting from delays in funding commitments from the international community.

A fourth accused senior Khmer Rouge leader, Ieng Sary’s wife Ieng Thirith, was ruled mentally unfit to … Continue Reading

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Cases 003 and 004 will Shape the Legacy of Khmer Rouge Court

NEW YORK—The Open Society Justice Initiative has released a report urging the international community to maintain its commitment to the UN-backed Khmer Rouge court in Cambodia, arguing that the tribunal remains the appropriate mechanism to provide genuine and credible justice for Khmer Rouge atrocities.

The 34-page report, The Future of Cases 003 and 004 at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, focuses on the outlook for two cases currently under judicial investigation at the tribunal.

The two cases—known as 003 and 004 and involving five suspects—have been before the court’s co-investigating judges for three years. The Cambodian government has repeatedly said it is opposed to the two cases going forward; the resulting controversy has contributed to the resignation of two … Continue Reading

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New Judge will be at Center of Struggle over Khmer Rouge

The Open Society Justice Initiative is calling on the Cambodian government and the United Nations to ensure that the newly appointed international investigating judge at the Khmer Rouge tribunal is free to work without the political interference that has increasingly threatened the court’s credibility.

Mark Harmon, an American, will be the third judge to occupy the position of international co-investigating judge at the court in nine months, following the resignations of Judge Siegfried Blunk in October last year, and Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet in May this year.

James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, said: “We are pleased that a new investigating judge has been confirmed. The test now is whether the Cambodian government will allow him to do … Continue Reading

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UN Must Reconsider Commitment to Khmer Rouge Court

NEW YORK—The Open Society Justice Initiative is calling upon the United Nations to reconsider its commitment to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, following the recent resignation of International Co-Investigating Judge, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet.

Judge Kasper-Ansermet is the second international judge to resign from the court in six months, due to apparent Cambodian government interference in the progress of investigations into five individuals alleged to have played significant roles in the commission of Khmer Rouge atrocities.

The allegations against the five individually link them to the deaths of tens of thousands of people during the reign of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Judge Kasper-Ansermet’s resignation adds to already mounting evidence of absence of good faith on the part of the Cambodian government in relation to the 2003 … Continue Reading

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Dispute over Judge Threatens Khmer Rouge Tribunal

NEW YORK—A continuing dispute at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia now presents a threat to the future work of the court, even as it tries the three surviving top leaders of the group which controlled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, according to a new report by the Open Society Justice Initiative.

In its latest report on developments at the court, covering events since October, the Justice Initiative said that Cambodia’s continued opposition to the appointment of Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet as international co-investigating judge at the tribunal “must be addressed immediately, before it does permanent, perhaps fatal, damage to the court”.

The report calls on both the United Nations and international donors “to publicly and privately insist that the Royal Government of … Continue Reading

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Khmer Rouge Court: UN Must Act to Restore Credibility

PHNOM PENH—The Open Society Justice Initiative says the United Nations must move swiftly to set up an independent inquiry into allegations of judicial misconduct at Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge court, if it hopes to “salvage the reputation” of the tribunal as “a credible judicial institution.”

In its latest update on events at the court, the Justice Initiative argues that “swift action” is needed to stem a loss of confidence in the court, as it prepares to begin hearing evidence in the trial of the four surviving top Khmer Rouge leaders.

The 22 page report, Recent Developments at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: November 2011, sets out the actions that have given rise to the allegations of misconduct, centered around the … Continue Reading

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