Tag Archives: ECCC

Australia Gives $1.61 Million to Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Graves in front of the gallows set up at Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh. Photo by Lindsay.

Australia will donate an extra $1.61 million to fund Cambodia’s UN-backed Khmer Rouge trials.

The nation has donated more than $18 million to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the court set up in 2001. Australia is the second largest donor to the trials.

An estimated 2 million Cambodians died under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. The communist group ruled Cambodia under the leadership of Pol Pot between 1975 and 1979.

The ECCC’s first trial ended in February with the former head of a Khmer Rouge prison, Kaing Guek Eav, jailed for life.

Mr. Kaing, known as Duch (pronounced “Doik”), ran the notorious Tuol Sleng jail, from which about 15,000 people are said to have been sent to their deaths.

Three senior members of the regime are on trial at present charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Via The Herald Sun.

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Khmer Rouge Tribunal Cannot Pay Cambodian Staff

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Cambodia’s U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal has run out of money to pay the wages of hundreds of workers as contributions from donor countries have dried up.

None of the more than 300 Cambodians working at the tribunal, from judges to drivers, will be paid this month and may not receive their salaries in February and March either.

Some judges and prosecutors have not been paid since October.

The funding shortfall does not affect the more than 130 international employees at the war crimes court. The United Nations pays the wages of international employees.

Voluntary contributions from donor nations pay the salaries of Cambodian staff members.

The court, set up to find justice for the deaths of two million people during the Khmer Rouge’s rule, is perpetually cash-strapped, but this is the longest period of non-payment.

The tribunal has long been dogged by allegations of political meddling, adding to donor reluctance to stump up more cash.

Court officials will travel to New York in February to meet with donor countries to discuss the court’s budget for 2012-2013.

The court, which has spent $150 million since 2006, has completed one trial, sentencing a former prison chief to thirty years. An appeal verdict in that case is expected on Friday.

A second trial involving the regime’s three most senior surviving leaders is ongoing.

Via The Bangkok Post.

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Cambodian School-Turned-Torture Center Finds Its Purpose Again

A room in Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum like the ones now converted into classrooms. Photo by Lindsay.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum has reclaimed part of its original status as a high school by coordinating free history lectures on the Khmer Rouge regime.

The museum holds the classes every Wednesday from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. and Friday from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Scholars Cambodian history and S-21 survivors lead the lectures.

The Documentation Centre of Cambodia, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts started the classes in November.

The lessons contrast the devaluation of education promoted by the Khmer Rouge with slogans such as, “Study is not important. What’s important is work and revolution.”

Lectures focus on the Khmer Rouge hierarchy, its domestic and foreign policies, security systems, the S-21 office, the regime’s fall, and the verdict of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

So far, the courses have attracted an average of twenty to thirty people at one time. More than half of them were tourists, the rest mostly Cambodian students.

Lecturers speak in English, which most Cambodian students can understand. There are also lectures in Khmer for Cambodians who do not speak English. At the end of each lecture, people can express their thoughts or add comments.

Australian Ben Alpers, 42, who attended a class, says the unusual environment is more conducive to study.

When you come to something like this, you can’t help but feel it. It keeps you very focused, not like a normal classroom which is very distracting. I think that’s what we lack in schools today.

We lack feeling. My problem with education systems is exactly that. They’re so out of context, you don’t actually learn anything. You can learn more in five minutes here than you could learn in three years in an Australian classroom. And you remember it.

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“Unfit” Khmer Rouge First Lady to Stay in Detention

30 Aug 2011: Ieng Thirith during the second da...

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On Tuesday, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) ordered that Ieng Thirith, a Khmer Rouge defendant ruled unfit to stand trial, will stay detained to see if her mental condition improves.

The supreme court chamber reversed a lower chamber ruling that would have freed the seventy-nine-year-old whose doctors concluded has Alzheimer’s disease. Prosecutors appealed against her release. Ms. Ieng is facing charges for her role as the social affairs minister during the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime.

The ruling came during the second week of testimony in the trial of three former Khmer Rouge senior officials. On trial is Ms. Ieng’s husband, Ieng Sary, who was the Khmer Rouge foreign minister.

The ECCC is seeking justice for two million people who died of execution, lack of medical care, or starvation under the Khmer Rouge. The defendants are charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, homicide, religious persecution, and torture. All have pleaded innocent. Ms. Ieng claims to have always worked for the benefit of the people.

Ms. Ieng will remain in the ECCC’s detention center until she can be detained at a place to undergo medical treatment. After six months of treatment, she will undergo another examination so the Trial Chamber can make a new assessment of her fitness to stand trial.

Ms. Ieng is the sister-in-law of Khmer Rouge supreme leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998.

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Nuon Chea: Khmer Rouge Not “Bad People”

The Number Two leader of Cambodia’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime told a court he and his comrades were not “bad people,” denying responsibility Monday for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians during their 1975-1979 rule.

Nuon Chea’s defiant statements came as the U.N.-backed tribunal began questioning him for the first time since the long-awaited trial of three top regime leaders began late last month.

Nuon Chea and two other Khmer Rouge leaders are accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, religious persecution, homicide and torture stemming from the group’s reign of terror. All have denied wrongdoing.

Via the Associated Press.

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Election of New ICC Proecutor Draws Near

The race for the top court’s top job began on October 25 when the search committee charged with producing a list of potential prosecutors announced its results. Included were ICC deputy prosecutor Fatou Bensouda; Andrew Cayley, the co-prosecutor at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia; Mohamed Chande Othman, the chief justice of Tanzania; and Robert Petit, counsel in the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section of the Canadian department of justice.

Luis Moreno Ocampo’s successor is to be chosen in December at the annual meeting of the members of the ICC, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP). The ASP will choose the prosecutor either by consensus or by secret ballot requiring an absolute majority.

The new prosecutor will take up the job in June 2012, along with six new judges and other top court officials.

Guiding the search process was Article 42 of the Rome Statute, stating that the prosecutor must be a person of “high moral character, be highly competent in and have extensive practical experience in the prosecution or trial of criminal cases … [and] have an excellent knowledge of and be fluent in at least one of the working languages of the court.”

However, there is a fear among court observers that politics may come into play when ASP members are making the final decision.

There has been strong pressure in some quarters for the replacement to Moreno Ocampo to be African, as the Hague-based court’s entire current docket involves defendants from Africa. The newest case is from Libya. In early October, judges granted permission for the prosecutor to look into the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.

Others, however, hope that both the selection process will be independent and free of such political considerations.

The changing of the guard comes at a crucial time for the ICC, which has faced criticism about its slow pace, heavy focus on African war crimes, and lack of completed trials.

The court’s first case, against Thomas Lubanga from the Democratic Republic of Congo, concluded, though no verdict has yet been delivered. The trial lasted more than two years. Lubanga has been in custody for five.

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Short List for Next ICC Prosecutor Released

The International Criminal Court. Photo by Lindsay.

International Criminal Court (ICC) deputy prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is one of four candidates on a shortlist to replace Luis Moreno-Ocampo as chief prosecutor of the ICC when his term ends next year.

Ms. Bensouda was appointed the ICC’s deputy prosecutor in September 2004 and previously worked as a legal adviser and trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania. She has long been regarded as the favorite to take over from Mr. Moreno-Ocampo.

Andrew Cayley, international co-prosecutor in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia; Mohamed Chande Othman, Chief Justice of Tanzania; and Robert Petit, a war crimes counsel in Canada’s Department of Justice, are the other three names on the shortlist, the selection committee of the Assembly of States Parties, said in a statement.

The tough-talking Argentinian Moreno-Ocampo has won praise for his role in promoting the work of the ICC. He has launched seven formal investigations, issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir, and begun three trials.

Via Reuters.

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