Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Mixed Feelings After Sentencing of Khmer Rouge Prison Chief

Thai protest the temple

Protesters wave Thai national flags during a demonstration outside the UNESCO office in Bangkok July 27, 2010. Hundreds of Thai nationalists led by a leader of the "yellow shirt" movement, Chamlong Srimuang, gathered outside UNESCO's Bangkok office to voice opposition to Cambodia's plan to administer Preah Vihear Temple, an ancient border temple and a World Heritage Site. Some Thais said the plan would compromise Thailand's claim to land in a disputed border territory with Cambodia. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Representatives of civic sectors wave a Thai flag during a protest in front of a UNESCO office on Tuesday, July 27, 2010, in Bangkok. The protesters werecondemning UNESCO for listing the Preah Vihear temple as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cambodia. Thailand has attempted to delay the listing, claiming to own the disputed territory. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Representatives of civic sectors cheer during a protest in front of a UNESCO office on Tuesday, July 27, 2010, in Bangkok. The protesters were condemningUNESCO for listing the Preah Vihear temple as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cambodia. Thailand has attempted to delay the listing, claiming to own the disputed territory. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Hundreds of Thai nationalists led by a leader of the "yellow shirt" movement, Chamlong Srimuang (not pictured), gather outside the UNESCO office in Bangkok July 27, 2010, to voice opposition to Cambodia's plan to administer Preah Vihear Temple, an ancient border temple and a World Heritage Site. Some Thais said the plan would compromise Thailand's claim to land in a disputed border territory with Cambodia. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Temple dispute surfaces again

Nirmal Ghosh
Thailand Correspondent

via Khmer NZ

July 27, 2010 Tuesday

Nirmal Ghosh dropped by Tuesday's protest on Bangkok's Sukhumvit road.


THE veteran soldier, politician, activist and Buddhist ascetic general Chamlong Srimuang, co-leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), has brought up the issue of the Pra Vihan temple again.

I just got back from the Unesco office on Sukhumvit near the mouth of Soi Ekkamai. Over 1,000 Santi Asoke and PAD members had occupied half of the road outside. Many were sitting on mats, and some looked prepared to stay at least a night — as general Chamlong had hinted.

There were dozens of cars and vans, and a small truck with a sound system, and two sets of musicians and singers belting out songs — one from the truck and one on the street. The protest site covered about 60 metres of the length of the road; traffic was being diverted into a single lane.

I saw many Santi Asoke members in their trademark indigo denims. Others wore ordinary clothes but I saw a few yellow shirts.

I asked one man sitting by himself on the road, why he was there. He said: "Because I am protecting the motherland."

He said he did not consider himself guilty of violating the state of emergency in Bangkok — which technically prohibits gatherings of more than 5 people. He said he did not consider it a violation of any law because he was protecting the land.

I did not see general Chamlong, but he could have been there; I did not linger very long.

He was quoted as having said earlier: "Thai patriots and I will rally because we are not certain that the government will succeed in opposing the temple administrative plan."

He also submitted a petition to Unesco, whose meeting in Brazil starting this Sunday, has triggered the protest.

On July 25 Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he was sending minister of natural resources and environment Suwit Khunkitti to Brazil to object to a management plan reportedly to be submitted by Camobodia, for the temple and surrounds.

Thais call the temple Pra Vihan. Khmers call it Preah Vihear. Legally, it belongs to Cambodia, which has in the past featured it on its flag and on currency notes.

The stunning pre-Angkor temple to Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and rebirth, has ironically been a problem for the two Buddhist countries for years.

Most recently, the issue was revived in 2008 by the PAD to discredit the Thaksin Shinawatra-loyalist government at the time. Foreign minister Noppadon Pattama was forced into resigning over a legal flaw in procedure. PAD leaders said Thaksin’s government had sold out to Cambodia.

The temple issue led to a buildup of forces and some skirmishes between Thai and Cambodian troops at the temple, with some people killed, until mutual talks calmed the border.

But in September 2009, a right wing faction of the PAD sparked off a riot when several dozen members of the group marched to the temple to demand Cambodian troops withdraw from disputed land — and clashed with Thai locals who do not want to see a fight endangering their livelihoods.

Dr Suwit will lead the Thai delegation to the 34th meeting of the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural (Unesco). The PAD demands that the government block Cambodia's plan.

The Preah Vihear temple issue is a fascinating legacy of post-colonial boundaries. As people fight over it, Shiva could well be dancing in witness.

I am keeping this blog short because one could write a long essay on the temple issue alone; but there are plenty of resources available online.

It is significant that General Chamlong has decided to mobilize on this issue because it places the government under pressure.

It was the PAD backed by the Santi Asoke and other groups under its umbrella, that raised the Preah Vihear issue in 2008. Around the time, PAD co-leader Sondhi Limthongkul had said a new government run by the Democrat Party "would be a start".

Later the PAD extended conditional support to the Democrats when Abhisit Vejjajiva was voted into the premiership in Parliament.

But of late the PAD has been critical of the prime minister. And now this. It is a space worth keeping an eye on.

Auckland Grammar boy sentenced for forgeries

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday Jul 27, 2010

Auckland Grammar School. Photo / Martin Sykes

An Auckland Grammar School pupil who forged scores of driving licences which he sold to other students was sentenced to 400 hours of community service today, narrowly avoiding a prison sentence.

Marcus Lim, 17, appeared in North Shore District Court facing two charges of forging more than 150 driving licences.

Crown prosecutor Rebecca Savage said he made about $12,000 through the venture, which had contributed to an influx of underage people entering licensed premises on the North Shore.

Lim's lawyer, Grant Nicholson, said Lim came to New Zealand as a refugee from Cambodia and had been abandoned by his family.

The money he made from his scheme had been used to pay for his education and living expenses, he said.

Judge Laurie Hinton said he took Lim's personal circumstances into account when delivering his sentence, and had been considering a sentence of six months in prison.

"You need to dedicate your obvious talents towards a legitimate enterprise," he said.

A computer seized by police contained a database of 250 names of people understood to have received a forged licence.

Almost all were 16 and 17-year-olds from 15 Auckland schools.

More than 60 students later returned fake licences to police stations, although police said at the time that many others would never be found.


Cambodian visitors drawn to Vietnam

via Khmer NZ


With the aim of serving 4.5 million foreign tourists in 2010, the tourism industry is giving priority to the top ten markets boasting the highest numbers of visitors to Vietnam, including Cambodia.

Statistics released by the General Statistics Office show the number of Cambodian holidaymakers to Vietnam grew steadily during the first six months of the year, reaching 117,000, a year-on-year rise of 36 percent.

The tourism sector predicts the number of Cambodian tourists would surge by 30 percent in 2010 from 118,000 last year.

Ho Chi Minh City leads the nation in terms of attracting Cambodian visitors, making up 60-70 percent of the total number, followed by the Central Highland province of Lam Dong, the Mekong Delta province of An Giang and the southern province of Binh Duong.

Industry insiders said visa exemptions, high quality goods, attractive tourist destinations and convenient travel are the main factors after an increasing number of holidaymakers from Cambodia.

Transport firms such as Mai Linh and the Saigon Passenger Transportation Company (Sapaco) have highly valued the development of tourist transport services between the two neighbours. Every day, almost 80 bus trips full of passengers operate on the route.

In a recent interview, the Secretary of State of the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, He So Somara, said Cambodians used to prefer travelling to Thailand, but now they choose Vietnam for their holidays due to short distance, the availability of border gates, similar foods, low expenses, and diverse tourism forms, including resort and health tourism.

Dr Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Medic centre, said an average of more than 100 Cambodian patients have come to the centre for medical checks-up each day, accounting for 10 percent of the total number. Other hospitals such as Cho Ray, Traditional Medicine and Vu Anh have become popular destinations of Cambodians.


Former sex slave urges Australia to help


via Khmer NZ

July 27, 2010


Her mother sold her for $300.

But Chan Sineth is one of the few fortunate ones to escape the child sex slavery that 1.8 million children are sold into across the world each year.

Australian sex offenders are contributing to the growth of the trade and Neth (Neth) is in Australia to implore the government to do more to help stop more girls being enslaved like her.

"I want to appeal to the Australian government to help the poor children, especially the girls in Cambodia. The problem of trafficking of girls in Cambodia is getting increased," Neth told AAP.

Neth was sold by her mother when she was 14, spending a horrific year as a sex slave in Cambodia before being rescued in 2004 by American journalist Nicholas Kristof who bought her from her pimp for $150.

After graduating from a transition centre where she lived with 15 other former sex slaves, she set up a store which her family looted and is now successfully studying beauty therapy, anatomy and English and teaches yoga to disadvantaged children.

She is also determined to raise awareness of sex trafficking and help other girls who come from families like Neth's.

"I think there is no other option because of the poverty, so they have to sell their children for money like my own family," she said.

Neth has joined Australian child protection charity Childwise to launch its campaign in Melbourne on Tuesday to have Australians sign a petition to stop the sex slave trade.

It's not just about tackling poverty in countries like Cambodia where many families find their daughter's virginity is their best source of income.

And it's not just a foreign problem, says Childwise chief executive Bernadette McMenamin. Australian sex offenders feed the slave traders, making up 31 per cent of sex tourists prosecuted in Thailand.

The federal government and police don't do enough about it, Ms McMenamin says.

"There is this apathy in Australia and many Western countries that there is this inevitability," Ms McMenamin said.

"But we know there are a multitude of programs that need to be in place to keep children in school, to support families and provide families with alternatives to the sale of children.

"It can be done if the government turns their minds to this and works together and says `this is as important as global warming'.

"It's not just about poverty, it's about all the other factors combined, it's about organised crime, it's about sex tourism and we are one of, if not the biggest, offender in South-East Asia.

"The government do not take it seriously, we are demanding they take it seriously."

Ms McMenamin wants the federal government to increase its current level of aid 10-fold to help establish support programs and education in villages in countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.

She also wants the Australian Federal Police to be more proactive, for sex offenders to be reported when they travel overseas and to be brought back to Australia for prosecution.

Childwise is supported by a Monash University survey of 18,000 Australians in which 73 per cent of respondents said they wanted the government to do more to fight the crime.

PM accepts Preah Vihear petition

via Khmer NZ

Published: 27/07/2010

leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on Tuesday led a demonstration against the listing of Preah Vihear temple as a Unesco World Heritage site and presented a protest petition to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

Mr Abhisit and Mr Kasit went to Baan Phisanulok to accept the petition from PAD leaders Pibhop Thongchai, Panthep Puapongpan and Kamnoon Sitthisaman.

In the morning, PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang led about 700 people to the Unesco building on Sukhumvit Road to protest against Cambodia being given management control of the ancient temple despite the territorial dispute over the border area around it.

Maj-Gen Chamlong told reporters later that Unesco Bangkok's chief administration officer Edgar Sharuk had informed him the PAD's petition had been forwarded to the Unesco World Heritage Committee, which is meeting in Brazil this week. The committee had acknowledged receipt of the petition.

The PAD leaders would meet again to discuss what to do next, he said.

The demonstration caused a severe traffic jam during the morning.

Protest against Preah Vihear temple listing

via Khmer NZ

Published: 27/07/2010

Hundreds of activists led by People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) core member Chamlong Srimuang handed a petition to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) office in Bangkok on Tuesday against the listing of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site and against Cambodia's efforts to secure management control over the ancient temple.

"I have been following the World Heritage Committee meeting in Brazil and I'm not confident the Thai government will succeed at the meeting," Maj-Gen Chamlong said.

He said the activists and the PAD members had not planned to gather outside the Unesco office, but this was an urgent matter.

"We are not pressuring Unesco in any way but I cannot confirm whether we will spend a night here as we'll have to monitor the situation for now," he said.

The PAD co-leader said he would not resist if authorities arrest him for violating the emergency decree imposed in the capital.

"After considering the situation, I decide to take a risk because this is about Thailand's territory," he said.

Maj-Gen Chamlong told reporters later that Unesco Bangkok's chief administration officer Edgar Sharuk had informed him that the PAD's petition had been forwarded to the Unesco World Heritage Committee, which is meeting in Brazil this week. The committee had acknowledged receipt of the petition.

The PAD leaders would meet to discuss what to do next, he said.

The gathering outside the Unesco office resulted in heavy traffic congestion on Sukhumvit road.

In the afternoon, PAD leaders including Pibhop Thongchai, Panthep Puapongpan and Kamnoon Sitthisaman presented a protest letter to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya at Baan Phitsanulok.

Metropolitan Police officials and Bangkok Municipality personnel were deployed to help people and ensure security at the gathering.

At the annual Unesco meeting on heritage sites this week in Brazil, Cambodia is expected to win management control over the Preah Vehear temple and adjacent areas, a proposal Thailand is to oppose.

On July 7, 2008, Preah Vihear was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site owned and managed by Cambodia. Thailand has objected and wants it jointly managed by the two countries.

Cambodia is due to report on its preservation efforts and development of the surrounding area at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Brasilia from July 27 to Aug 3.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said recently that Thailand would reject the Cambodian management plan for the preservation of the 11th century temple during the meeting.

Mr Abhisit was reported have said that although Thailand accepted a 1962 ruling by the International Court of Justice that handed ownership of the temple to Cambodia, it maintained its right to withhold recognition of the 1904 map upon which the ruling was based.

The ancient Khmer temple is in a disputed border area where troops of the two countries have often clashed.

VN businesses increase interest in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

July, 27 2010

HA NOI — In the past year ,Vietnamese business groups have revved up investment in Cambodia and actively contributed to the country's social security programmes, said the Association of Vietnamese Investors in Cambodia (AVIC).

At a review meeting in Siem Reap on Sunday, AVIC said Viet Nam had become the third largest foreign investor in Cambodia, after China and the Republic of Korea.

Addressing the meeting, Tran Bac Ha, general director of the Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam (BIDV), which helped pave the way for Vietnamese businesses to set up representative offices in Cambodia, said Vietnamese investment to Cambodia had grown rapidly in the past year. Vietnamese businesses were granted licences for 63 projects with a combined investment capital of US$900 million.

Various Vietnamese economic groups and corporations have entered the Cambodian market, investing in different areas including telecommunications, finance and banking, air transport, agriculture, light industry, rubber and industrial tree planting, mining, energy and healthcare.

Aside from trade and investment activities, Vietnamese businesses have also pledged $6 million in funding to local social welfare schemes.

As part of the move to promote Vietnamese investment in the country, the Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia (BIDC), a Cambodia-based affiliate of BIDV, opened a new branch in Siem Reap.

The BIDC earlier set up branches in HCM City and Phnom Penh in order to create a link between the financial markets of Cambodia and Viet Nam, and provide financial service packages for Vietnamese enterprises wishing to invest in Cambodia.

Vietnamese investors in Cambodia include the Viet Nam Military Telecom Corporation (Viettel), BIDV, the Viet Nam Coal and Minerals Corporation (Vinacomin), Viet Nam Airlines and Hoang Anh Gia Lai group. — VNS

Ask Cambodian Workers: What Good Has ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ Done?

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Garment workers at a factory in Phnom Penh, in October 2006. (Photo by TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)

via Khmer NZ

By Jeff Ballinger

A recent blog post by Auret van Heerden titled "Where is CSR Heading?" begs a really big question: What good has "corporate social responsibility" been for workers, up to now? Sweatshop abuses are Exhibit A and that is where van Heerden plies his trade as head of the "Fair Labor Association" in Washington.

Founded in 1996 as the Apparel Industry Partnership--a desperate attempt by Bill Clinton to gloss over the depredations of supply-chain cheats and bullies producing for big American brands -- the FLA has produced helpful (to the industry) reports by van Heerden such as "Solving the Problem of Declining Wages". Van Heerden's post starts, "The global economic crisis has shaken the manufacturing industry to its core..." which means what, exactly? No more Mr. Nice Guy?

The big brands' record during the pre-crisis (fat profits) decades is reprehensible. Since the earliest "code of conduct" requirements for supplier factories (i.e., Levi's, Reebok, Nike and Mattel), labor rights have declined nearly to the vanishing point in production-for-export areas around the world.

Flexibilization through contract-work has reached epidemic proportions; millions of workers are finding work in foreign countries in situations akin to bonded labor; factory managers skipping out on severance payments owed to workers is becoming more commonplace -- in short, work is becoming more and more precarious with each passing year, even as corporations tweak their "codes" and trumpet new breakthroughs in "free association" rights in their supply chains. Parasitic "social auditors" -- some operating in an ostensible "non-profit" mode -- post thousands of factory reports each year while workers continue to strike and corrupt governments jail and harass independent union activists.

Tens of thousands of workers in Cambodia and Bangladesh have protested numerous times over the last ten weeks, due to expected national minimum wage adjustments (which are behind schedule); their wages are never raised through the dignified means of collective bargaining. Look back to 1998 when a prominent FLA member (Patagonia's Kevin Sweeney) wrote in the Los Angeles Times: "We Can Work Up To a Living Wage." So, what's happened over the past dozen years? Can you imagine consumers' reaction to an expensive Patagonia t-shirt with a hang-tag reading: "Wow. We're so sorry! We thought that we could promise you that workers making this shirt were being paid at least a subsistence wage, but it has proved to be really difficult to get our suppliers to agree. You can go to the Fair Labor Association web-site and read that we are not really to blame..."

The logic is seductively simple: A global brand meticulously monitors its' supply chain because conscientious consumers -- informed by the latest technologies -- will punish it at the retail level for any transgression. Rather, according to Jeffrey Swartz, the CEO of Timberland, consumers don't care at all about workers' rights in the factories producing for the footwear and apparel company. In an interview earlier this year, he said, "With regard to human rights, the consumer expectation today is somewhere in the neighborhood of, 'don't do anything horrible or despicable'... if the issue doesn't matter much to the consumer population, there's not a big incentive for the consumer-minded CEOs to act, proactively." In a 2008 interview he mused about his desire to "seduce consumers to care" so that his CSR report was not mere "corporate cologne". The "dirty little secret" of CSR is that nobody reads these reports; one of Sun Microsystems' team lamented the fact that only 247 out of 38,000 fellow-employees even bothered to download its 2007 CSR report.

Think CSR works on the environment side of "sustainability"? One answer spawned by the BP spill appeared in a Washington Post op-ed last week, "culprit is the cult of CSR... a fetish encouraged by the philanthropies that feed off it." I might not go so far as the opinion-writer, Chrystia Freeland (global editor at large for Thomson Reuters), when she suggests that, "many of the business disasters of the past 24 months have been facilitated by the mini-industry of corporate social responsibility," but I certainly do believe that CSR has been an indispensible partner to business-as-usual for the past 15 years of unprecedented corporate malfeasance.

From WikiLeaks to the Killing Fields


via Khmer NZ

JULY 27, 2010

Innocent civilians become the tragic casualties of war. Insurgents plant thousands of IEDs. Special-ops teams hunt down insurgents. The Taliban may have a few Stinger missiles. Pakistan plays a double game with the Taliban. The U.S. government can't keep its secrets. The New York Times has about as much regard for those secrets as a British tabloid has for a starlet's privacy. The Obama administration blames everything on Bush.

Is any of this news? Not exactly.

Still, you'd be forgiven for thinking it is, given the Pentagon Papers-style treatment now being accorded to the WikiLeak of 92,000 classified documents on the Afghan War. John Kerry says the documents "raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan." WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sees "evidence of war crimes." A Time magazine columnist, making explicit the comparison with the Vietnam War, offers that the leak underscores "how futile the situation in Afghanistan is."

We'll see about that. In the meantime, take note of another item in the news: Yesterday's conviction by a U.N. tribunal of former Khmer Rouge prison commandant Kaing Guek Eav—better known as "Comrade Duch"—to 19 years in prison for his role in the Cambodian genocide. Remarkably, Duch is the first senior Khmer Rouge official to be convicted for the crimes of Pol Pot's regime, more than three decades after it was evicted from Phnom Penh.

Associated Press
Cambodia's killing fields: a foretaste for post-American Afghanistan?

The Cambodian genocide is especially worth recalling today not only for what it was, but for the public debates in the West that immediately preceded it. "The greatest gift our country can give to the Cambodian people is peace, not guns," said then-congressman, now senator, Chris Dodd, by way of making the case against the Ford administration's bid to extend military assistance to the pro-American government of Lon Nol.

In the New York Times, Sydney Schanberg reported from Cambodia that "it is difficult to imagine how [Cambodian] lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone." Mr. Schanberg added that "it would be tendentious to forecast [genocide] as a national policy under a Communist government once the war is over."

A year later, Mr. Schanberg was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, though not for tendentiousness.

All in all, America's withdrawal from Southeast Asia resulted in the killing of an estimated 165,000 South Vietnamese in so-called re-education camps; the mass exodus of one million boat people, a quarter of whom died at sea; the mass murder, estimated at 100,000, of Laos's Hmong people; and the killing of somewhere between one million and two million Cambodians.

Now we have the debate over Afghanistan. Should America begin to withdraw, and if so, how soon and by how much? These are important questions, although it's interesting to note how so many of the same people—including the Time columnist mentioned above—who now see nothing but quagmire and futility in Afghanistan were making precisely the same noises about Iraq in 2007. As was once said about the old Bourbon dynasty, they forget nothing—and they learn nothing.

It's also interesting to note that the further the debate moves politically leftward, the louder the calls for an immediate withdrawal become. Here again, the same people who protest every drone strike as a violation of the laws of war, or trumpet every inflated Taliban claim of civilian casualties as irrefutable fact, also want America out of Afghanistan. Right now. For the sake of peace.

As it happens, there is a defensible, if flawed, case for an American exit from Afghanistan. It is an argument based on a bloodless tabulation of economic and strategic costs and benefits, an argument about whether—as former Secretary of State James Baker was alleged to have said about the Balkans—the U.S. really has a dog in this fight. It is an argument that discounts considerations of American sacrifice and honor. It is an argument that is profoundly indifferent to whatever furies will engulf Afghanistan once the Taliban returns, as surely they will, provided the spillover effects are somehow contained.

In an old-fashioned sense, it is a very Republican argument. Just ask Pat Buchanan.

But somewhere in the bowels of the State Department, somebody might want to think hard about the human consequences of American withdrawal. What happens to the Afghan women who removed their burqas in the late fall of 2001, or the girls who enrolled in government schools? What happens to the army officers and civil servants who cooperated with the coalition? What happens to the villagers who stood with us when we asked them to?

It is a peculiar fact of modern liberalism that its best principles have most often been betrayed by self-described liberals. As with Cambodia, they may come to know it only when—for Afghans, at least—it is too late.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com  

Khmer Rouge prison chief jailed for war crimes

July 26, 2010

A former Khmer Rouge prison chief has been found guilty of crimes against humanity in Cambodia. The verdict was reached by a UN-backed war crimes tribunal. The defendant, better known as Comrade Duch, was sentenced to 35 years in prison although the court later reduced it to19 years, taking into account time he'd already spent in detention. He admitted to overseeing the deaths of up to 15,000 prisoners.

Mock Trial

How America is helping to whitewash the Cambodian genocide.

Stephen Morris
July 26, 2010

via Khmer NZ

Yesterday, in Cambodia, a perpetrator of one of the twentieth century’s great crimes was sentenced. Kang Kek Lew, also known as Comrade Deuch, was the head of the infamous Tuol Sleng prison during the reign of the Khmer Rouge, and was at least partly responsible for the murder of more than 12,000 people. Now he will serve 19 years in jail.

But, after the West spent nearly a hundred million dollars to create a tribunal in Cambodia, this is all we have to show for it, at least so far: a solitary conviction of a man who was involved in less than one percent of the 1.5 to 2 million murders that took place in the country from 1975 to 1978. No one knows for sure if the next phase of the tribunal—the trial of the four highest ranking Khmer Rouge leaders still alive—will occur in 2011, 2012, or even at all. Some of the accused are elderly and frail, and may die before their trial begins, as another arrested leader, Ta Mok, did in 2006.

Even if the other trials do go forward, it will be difficult to argue that justice has been served. Authority at the tribunal is divided between international and Cambodian officials, and the two sides cannot agree on how many people to prosecute. International prosecutors want to charge at least five more individuals for their role in the mass killings. But Cambodia’s current leader, Hun Sen, has said that he does not want any more trials, and the Cambodian team has argued against further indictments. Moreover, even if those additional trials were to take place, it would still leave the vast majority of the guilty unpunished. It took more than ten people to murder up to 2 million Cambodians. It is now certain that none of the thousands of lower-level murderers will ever stand trial.

How did the matter of justice in Cambodia go so badly awry? The answer begins with the fact that the current Cambodian regime is riddled with former members of the Khmer Rouge. But part of the fault also lies with the United States.

In December 1978, Vietnam, reacting to unprovoked attacks on its own territory and civilians, invaded Cambodia and deposed the Khmer Rouge regime headed by Pol Pot. The invaders installed a puppet regime that was staffed at the highest levels by former mid-level Khmer Rouge political and military cadres. The cadres had fled Cambodia to Vietnam not out of revulsion at the holocaust, but out of fear of Pol Pot’s executioners who were conducting purges. The new regime was led first by Heng Samrin and later by Hun Sen.

The Heng Samrin-Hun Sen government was obviously a substantial improvement over the Khmer Rouge, but it was still a brutal authoritarian regime. For the next 30 years, it would murder its political opponents and preside over a politicized and corrupt judiciary. It would open Cambodia to various criminal syndicates, including drug traffickers, human traffickers, and illegal loggers. And even after the Vietnamese ended their occupation of Cambodia in 1989, and Soviet aid dried up, the government would find ways to cling to power.

In 1991, Hun Sen reluctantly accepted a U.N. plan to occupy the country and pave the way for elections. Unfortunately, the United Nations was not prepared to use its 22,000-strong military and police contingents to enforce its written mandate. Discerning this, Hun Sen’s army and Pol Pot’s guerrillas refused to disarm. The non-communists won the May 1993 elections, despite the campaign of terror waged by both Hun Sen and Pol Pot. But the heavily armed Hun Sen was able to bully his way into an ostensible coalition government with the unarmed election winners—the non-communists, led by Prince Norodom Ranariddh. Four years later, Hun Sen ousted Ranariddh in a bloody coup, in which more than 100 non-communist political leaders and military officials were murdered.

Meanwhile, the Clinton State Department, at least at first, pursued a policy of engagement with Hun Sen, whose son was invited to attend West Point. Stability was the watchword of this policy. Following the 1997 coup, Clinton did impose a ten-year ban on U.S. government aid to Cambodia. But the Bush administration allowed the aid ban to lapse in 2007, and, more broadly, revived the policy of engagement. At one point, the administration invited then-Chief of National Police Hok Lundy—a known torturer, murderer, and human trafficker—to Washington to become a partner in the war on terror.

Hovering over Cambodian politics during all this time was the question of whether, and how, to prosecute the leaders of the Khmer Rouge holocaust. For two decades after taking power, the government did call for prosecution of Pol Pot’s circle. Yet it was noteworthy that the proposed targets of these prosecutions never included members of the new regime. For Hun Sen, the purpose of the tribunals was not justice; it was to delegitimize his armed opponents who were still holding out in remote rural areas.

In June 1997, Hun Sen and Ranariddh had signed a letter requesting U.N. assistance to establish a tribunal. And, even after ousting Ranariddh in a coup, Hun Sen continued to agree to a dominant role for the United Nations in the proposed tribunal. Meanwhile, a committee appointed by the U.N. Secretary General, noting Cambodia’s lack of a technically competent and politically independent judiciary, recommended that the tribunal be held in a foreign country and staffed by international judges and prosecutors.

By late 1998, however, Hun Sen had flipped his position. What had changed was Cambodian politics. During the mid-’90s, many of Pol Pot’s political and military commanders had defected with their units to the government side, where they were given a chance to share in the spoils of power. By 1997, the Pol Pot-led rump had begun to disintegrate in internal disputes. “Brother Number One,” Pol Pot, died in July 1998. When “Brother Number Two,” Nuon Chea, as well as the nominal president of the former regime, Khieu Samphan, defected in December 1998, the armed opposition to Hun Sen’s regime was finished. Suddenly, Hun Sen announced that it was time to “dig a hole and bury the past.” Within a matter of weeks, he told the United Nations that he no longer needed its help, and that any tribunal would be held in Cambodia under the country’s judicial processes.

In the end, the United States and the United Nations mostly backed down. They accepted Hun Sen’s demand that the tribunal be held in Cambodia. And John Kerry—whose interest in southeast Asian issues dated to his days as an antiwar activist—proposed a compromise under which a majority of judges would be Cambodian (though the international judges would have veto power should the Cambodians try to block indictments).

In theory, it might have worked, but in practice it has turned out to be disastrous. Hun Sen, whose government contains many former Khmer Rouge functionaries, remains reluctant to see many people put on trial. And because the trials are being conducted in Cambodia, with such heavy involvement by people who are appointed by Hun Sen’s government, it appears that he might just get his way.

No U.S. security interest is at stake in the events in Cambodia. The question of justice for this poor and ravaged nation remains significant only as a moral issue. Yet, perhaps because engagement, even with nasty regimes, has long been the default operating principle of the State Department, both the Clinton and Bush administrations were frequently content to cater to Hun Sen. Given that Barack Obama is preoccupied with so many other pressing issues, it seems unlikely that the United States—which is still helping to fund the tribunal—will reverse course anytime soon. And so, more than three decades after the end of the Cambodian killings, it is possible that yesterday’s sentencing of a sole murderer is all that the Khmer Rouge’s victims are going to get in the way of justice.

Stephen Morris is a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and author of Why Vietnam Invaded Cambodia.

K.Rouge prison chief to appeal conviction: lawyer

Former Khmer Rouge prison chief S-21, Kaing Guek Eav (Duch)

via Khmer NZ

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch will appeal against his conviction by Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes tribunal, which sentenced him to 30 years in jail, his defence lawyer said Tuesday.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the court on Monday.

He is the first Khmer Rouge cadre to face an international tribunal over crimes committed under the 1975-1979 hardline communist regime.

The 67-year-old was initially handed 35 years but the court reduced the jail sentence on the grounds that he had been detained illegally for years before the UN-backed tribunal was established.

"We will appeal against the (court's) decision," Duch's lawyer Kar Savuth told AFP by telephone, without elaborating.

Many survivors and relatives of victims were dismayed by the verdict, which also took into account the years Duch had already served since his arrest in 1999, meaning that he could walk free in about 19 years.

"He only apologised to the judges. Duch didn't apologise to the victims," said Chum Mey, 79, one of the handful who survived the prison because his mechanical skills were put to use repairing sewing machines and water pumps.

During his trial, Duch repeatedly apologised for overseeing the mass murder of 15,000 men, women and children at Tuol Sleng prison -- also known as S-21 -- but shocked the court in November by finally asking to be acquitted.

Kar Savuth in November said Duch wanted to be acquitted on the grounds that he was not a senior member of the Khmer Rouge hierarchy, while his other defence lawyer Francois Roux had argued for leniency based on his contrition.

Prosecutors have said they are also considering whether to appeal the verdict. They had sought a 40-year prison sentence from the tribunal, which did not have the power to impose the death penalty.

But international co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley told AFP Tuesday he thought it was a "logical, well-reasoned judgement".

"You must recall that this is a man who actually acknowledged responsibility and pleaded guilty but still received a sentence of 35 years, which is actually on the high side as far as guilty pleas are concerned," Cayley said.

Cambodian garment workers clash with police

via Khmer NZ

Tue Jul 27, 2010

By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - At least nine female garment workers were injured on Tuesday in clashes with Cambodian riot police who used shields and electric shock batons to try to end a week-long strike over the suspension of a local union official.

More than 100 police, at least 50 in riot gear and carrying assault rifles, tried to force an estimated 3,000 female workers back into their factory, pushing several to the ground and stunning them with batons, a Reuters witness said.

The clashes were the latest setback for an industry that was badly hurt by the global economic slump from 2008 and more recently has been plagued by strikes over low pay and working conditions.

The factory on the outskirts of the capital, Phnom Penh, is owned by a Malaysian firm and produces garments for companies including Gap, Benetton, Adidas and Puma.

Srey Kimheng, a secretary-general of the Free Trade Union (FTU), told Reuters at least nine workers were injured when police with a court order tried to clear roads and force them back to work.

The demonstration was brought to an end, and union leaders were talking to the workers about calling off their action aimed at forcing the company to give the union official his job back.

Local police chief Mok Hong insisted there had been no injuries and told Reuters the operation had gone smoothly.

The sector, Cambodia's number three currency earner behind agriculture and tourism, shed almost 30,000 jobs in 2009 after a drop in sales to the United States and Europe.

Industry data showed the country exported garments, textiles and shoes to the value of $2.3 billion last year, down from $2.9 billion in 2008. More than half go to the United States.

An estimated 300,000 of Cambodia's 13.4 million people work in the garment manufacturing sector and send vital cash to impoverished rural villages where many people live on less than $1 a day.

(Additional reporting by Chor Sokunthea; Editing by Martin Petty)

Anger in Cambodia Over Khmer Rouge Sentence

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

By SETH MYDANS, The New York Times

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- For 30 years since the brutal Khmer Rouge regime was driven from power, Cambodians have lived with unresolved trauma, with skulls and bones from killing fields still lying in the open and with parents hiding the pain of their past from their children.

On Monday, Cambodia took a significant step toward addressing its harsh past with the first conviction of a major Khmer Rouge figure in connection with the deaths of 1.7 million people from 1975 to 1979.

But some survivors were distraught over what they saw as a lenient sentence, one that could possibly allow the defendant, Kaing Guek Eav, 67, commonly known as Duch, to walk free one day.

A United Nations-backed court found Duch (pronounced DOIK), the commandant of the central Khmer Rouge prison, Tuol Sleng, guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 35 years in prison for overseeing the torture and killing of more than 14,000 people. The court reduced that term to 19 years because of time already served and in compensation for a period of illegal military detention.

"I am not satisfied!" cried one of the few survivors, Chum Mey, 79, who had testified in excruciating detail about his 12 days of torture. "We are victims two times, once in the Khmer Rouge time and now once again."

He was shouting in agitation in the muddy courtyard outside the tribunal building.

"His prison is comfortable, with air-conditioning, food three times a day, fans and everything," he said. "I sat on the floor with filth and excrement all around."

It was the first time in Cambodia's modern history that a senior government official had been made accountable for serious human rights violations and the first time such a trial had been held that met international standards of justice.

The verdict took into account mitigating circumstances that a court spokesman, Lars Olsen, said included Duch's cooperation, his admission of responsibility and limited expressions of remorse, the coercive environment of the Khmer Rouge period and the possibility of his rehabilitation.

There is no death penalty in Cambodia and prosecutors had sought a 40-year sentence, but many people said they would accept nothing less than a term of life in prison.

"People lost their relatives -- their wives, their husbands, their sons and daughters -- and they won't be able to spend any time with any of them because they are dead now," said Nina You, 40, who works for a private development agency. "So why should he be able to get out in 19 years and spend time with his grandchildren?"

Bou Meng, 69, another survivor who testified at the trial about his torture and humiliation, said he had waited for this day to quiet the ghosts he said continued to torment him. "I felt it was like a slap in the face," he said of the verdict.

But Huy Vannak, a television news director, said it was enough simply to have justice in a court, 30 years after the killing stopped.

No sentence could measure up to the atrocities Duch committed, he added.

"Even if we chop him up into two million pieces it will not bring our family members back," he said. "We have to move on now."

Others still needed more time. "Actually I'm kind of shaking inside at the moment," said Sopheap Pich, 39, a sculptor. "I'm not sure how I should feel. I'm not happy, not sad, just kind of numb."

For its symbolism, he said, a life sentence would seem most appropriate. "To come up with a number doesn't seem to make sense," he said. "I'm not sure how you come up with a number."

Mr. Olsen said the prosecution had 30 days to file an appeal. For now, Duch was returned to the special detention house he shares with four other defendants who are awaiting trial in what is known as Case 2.

In that case, four surviving members of the top Khmer Rouge leadership are accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes. In addition to those tortured to death and executed in killing fields, many people died of starvation, disease or overwork or in the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh, in which the entire population of the city was driven out to the countryside.

The defendants include Ieng Sary, 84, who was foreign minister; his wife, Ieng Thirith, 78, who was minister of social welfare; Nuon Chea, 84, known as Brother No. 2; and Khieu Samphan, 78, who was head of state. Several other major figures have died, including the Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, in 1998.

The judicial investigation in this case is expected to conclude in September with formal indictments, and the trial itself is not expected before sometime next year.

Unlike Duch, these defendants have denied guilt, and their lawyers have been active in raising legal challenges.

In their most interesting challenge, they failed in an attempt this year to exclude evidence obtained through torture -- in other words, the Tuol Sleng archives of prisoner confessions that contain some of the potentially most damaging testimony about the chain of command.

The four defendants have been in custody since late 2007 and some of them hate each other, according to people familiar with the conditions of their detention.

In particular, these people say, Mr. Nuon Chea refuses to speak to Duch, who implicated him during his trial. According to testimony in pretrial hearings, Ms. Ieng Thirith, who has shouted angrily during court hearings, has been abusive to her fellow detainees on at least 70 occasions.

For his part, Duch is said to be fascinated by the court's actions and follows reports and analyses closely on television.

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via Khmer NZ

President Lee Deeply Regrets Murder of Vietnamese Bride

Tuesday, 27 July 2010 09:14 DAP-NEWS / Na Jeong-ju

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, JULY 27, 2010-President Lee Myung-bak expressed deep regret Monday over the murder of a young Vietnamese bride by her mentally-ill Korean husband early this month, saying the country should be more open-minded toward multicultural families and immigrants.

“The murder case was heartbreaking to many Vietnamese and Korean people. I offer deep condolences to her family members,” Lee said in a pre-recorded address to the nation, broadcast on KBS1 Radio and YouTube.

“We need to set up a better system so that foreigners can live here more comfortably. The case was a reminder that the country still lacks a proper system to protect ethnic minorities and public maturity in dealing with them.”

The 20-year-old Vietnamese woman was beaten and stabbed to death by her 47-year-old husband with a mental disorder on July 8, eight days after she arrived here following her marriage, brokered by an international matchmaking agency.

President Lee called for a thorough crackdown on agencies brokering international marriages.

Earlier this month, police launched an investigation into illegal international marriage brokers here. The campaign will target unlicensed operations and the provision of false information on a partner’s personal profile.

“Now, multicultural families have settled down as a common form of family in our society,” Lee said. “Regrettably, however, there is a lack of maturity in our perception.”

More than 180,000 foreigners, mostly women from Vietnam, China, and the Philippines, reside in South Korea after marrying locals, and the number of their children now reaches 120,000, according to government data.

President Lee said Korea is becoming a multicultural society and that it needs to initiate related programs to enhance national competitiveness.

“Historically, prosperous countries have been open-minded toward different cultures. We all should have open minds to accept the cultures and people from outside,” he said.

Lee recalled a conversation with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen about Cambodian brides during his visit there last October.

“The Cambodian leader asked me to treat Cambodian women immigrating to South Korea like my own daughters-in-law,” he said. “I reflect on whether I have done so. Such a tragic incident as the murder of the Vietnamese woman should never happen again.”

Donors welcome verdict for Duch

Monday, 26 July 2010 14:27 DAP NEWS / Vibol

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, JULY 27, 2010-Ambassadors from France and Japan, The Co-Chairs of the Friends of the Court on Monday make this statement on behalf of the donors to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) with welcoming the verdict ruled by the court.

The donors welcome the completion of the trial in the Trial Chamber for case 001, Monday 26th of July, against Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, former director of the detention center S21 in Phnom Penh for crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, homicide and torture, the statement from co-chairs signed by the French and Japanese ambassadors.

“The donors recognize the commitment of the national and international judges as well as all those working for the ECCC and their independent and comprehensive work, in order to uphold high standards of law and due process, it added, noting more than 30 years after the atrocities committed under the Khmer Rouge regime, this judgment gives hope that the ECCC will ultimately fulfill its promise as a vehicle for justice and national reconciliation for all Cambodians.

The donors reaffirm their confidence in and support for the ECCC in delivering justice to the Cambodian people and in helping Cambodia strengthen further its efforts for the rule of law, the statement said.

‘Shocking and heinous’ crimes

Photo by: ECCC/POOL
Kaing Guek Eav, more commonly known by his revolutionary name Duch, listens as judges at Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal read out a guilty verdict against him yesterday.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 27 July 2010 15:03 Cheang Sokha and James O’Toole

TUOL Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav was sentenced to 30 years in prison at Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal yesterday. The verdict marks the first time a Khmer Rouge leader has been held to account in a court of law.

Taking into consideration time already served since his 1999 arrest, the accused – better known as Duch – faces roughly 19 years in prison.

Trial Chamber President Nil Nonn told hundreds of observers, court officials and victims that the “shocking and heinous” offences committed by Duch while he served as an administrator of Tuol Sleng, or S-21, had earned him a conviction for crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

Photo by: AFP
Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav listens to a summary of the judgment against him yesterday.

“The accused trained his interrogators to use physical and psychological violence,” Nil Nonn said. “Individuals detained at S-21 were destined for

In explaining the decision not to hand down the maximum punishment, a life sentence, Nil Nonn said a number of mitigating factors had been considered, including Duch’s “cooperation with the chamber, admission of responsibility, limited expressions of remorse, the coercive environment in Democratic Kampuchea and the potential for rehabilitation”. The judges thus settled on a 35-year sentence, from which they deducted an additional five years due to the period of unlawful detention Duch served at a Cambodian military court between his arrest in 1999 and his handover to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in 2007.

Prisoners in the Cambodian penal system are eligible for release after having served two-thirds of their sentences, though United Nations court spokesman Lars Olsen declined to comment on whether this could be an issue in Duch’s case. Duch will remain at the ECCC detention facility pending negotiations to find “a suitable prison for anyone convicted at the ECCC”, Olsen said.

As with many other victims, 79-year-old former Tuol Sleng prisoner Chum Mey said he was angry that Duch had not received the maximum sentence.

“Duch’s cruel attitude remains, and I cannot accept this,” said Chum Mey, one of the few to survive a facility that claimed as many as 16,000 lives.

In a press release issued yesterday afternoon, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights acknowledged that the sentence “may appear to be a light one”, but praised the judges for recognising the fact that “rights are for all, even those individuals who are viewed by so many as reprehensible”.

“It may be hard for some victims and observers to reconcile the findings of the court with the sentence handed down,” CCHR president Ou Virak said in the statement. “However, problems persist in Cambodia with detention practices, and the reduction in sentence as a result of Duch’s previous illegal detention offers a good example to our domestic courts.”

Vann Nath, another Tuol Sleng survivor, offered a more prosaic take.

“It is like a life sentence for him because Duch is 68 years old already,” Vann Nath said.

The sentence was determined by a supermajority of the Trial Chamber, with French judge Jean-Marc Lavergne dissenting on the grounds that Cambodian law did not provide for non-life sentences of greater than 30 years. The judges were also divided on whether the statute of limitations on crimes set forth in the 1956 Cambodian Penal Code had expired by the time investigations began in Duch’s case, and thus ruled only on the basis of international law.

The verdict came after six months of testimony last year in which 55 witnesses – experts, survivors and former Khmer Rouge cadres – appeared before the court. Duch himself was a vocal participant throughout the trial, but was not given the chance to speak during yesterday’s hearing.

Dressed in a blue button-down shirt and slacks, Duch appeared to be listening attentively as Nil Nonn read out the summary of the judgment. Save for a glance at Bou Meng as Nil Nonn recalled the Tuol Sleng survivor’s testimony before the court, Duch stared emotionlessly at the judges throughout the hearing, and bowed briefly to them as he exited.

Cambodian co-prosecutor Chea Leang said the proceedings yesterday represented “a historic day for the ECCC” and for “the entire Cambodian people”. She also said, however, that the prosecution would consider appealing against the length of Duch’s prison term after “reviewing the basis of this sentence over the coming days”. Prosecutors had requested that Duch be given a 40-year prison term.

A number of civil party lawyers, though not empowered to challenge the sentence, expressed surprise at its brevity. Civil Party Group 2 lawyer Silke Studzinsky expressed doubts about Duch’s apologies and remorse, saying they had been left “without any value” following his surprise request for acquittal during closing arguments.

Defence attorneys were unavailable for comment, though observers said Duch’s dismissal of international co-lawyer Francois Roux earlier this month indicated that the accused likely planned to appeal in the event of a guilty verdict.

In the meantime, tribunal officials will continue their efforts to raise awareness about the court, particularly among young Cambodians with limited knowledge of the Khmer Rouge period. Court spokesman Reach Sambath said at a press conference following the hearing that 17,000 copies of yesterday’s verdict would be distributed at schools and villages throughout the Kingdom.

Standing under a cloudy sky outside the court afterwards, Reach Sambath said he had worked with his 14-year-old daughter the previous evening in composing his remarks, showing off her handwritten comments in the margins of his notes.

“I’m very, very proud, that the younger generation like my daughter had a chance to learn about the history, especially the dark history that affected the lives of their parents and grandparents,” he said.

Trying the Khmer Rouge


The newly installed Heng Samrin regime organises the People’s Revolutionary Tribunal in Phnom Penh, at which Pol Pot and Ieng Sary are charged with genocide. Both men are found guilty on August 19, with the tribunal sentencing them to death and ordering the confiscation of their property. The international community, angry at Vietnam for “invading” Cambodia in January, largely dismisses the PRT as a “show trial”.

On June 21, then Co-Prime Ministers Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Ranariddh send a letter requesting assistance from the United Nations in trying those responsible for Khmer Rouge crimes. “Cambodia does not have the resources or expertise to conduct this very important procedure,” the letter reads in part. “Thus, we believe it is necessary to ask for the assistance of the United Nations.”

Tuol Sleng prison commandant Kaing Guek Eav and Ta Mok, commander of the Khmer Rouge when the movement finally collapsed, are arrested and transferred to a military court in Phnom Penh. Foreign Affairs Minister Ieng Sary, Brother No 2 Nuon Chea (pictured), Head of State Khieu Samphan and Social Action Minister Ieng Thirith are arrested in 2007.

The UN and Cambodia sign the Agreement Concerning the Prosecution Under Cambodian Law of Crimes Committed During the Period of Democratic Kampuchea at a ceremony on June 6 in Phnom Penh. Cambodia is represented by Sok An, while the UN is represented by Hans Corell.
February 2009

Procedural hearings begin in the first case at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, that of Tuol Sleng prison commandant Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch. The following month, Duch delivers his long-awaited confession and apology before the UN-backed hybrid court, expressing “deep regret and heartfelt sorrow”. Four other suspects – Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Thirith – are also awaiting trial.
September 2009

The tribunal announces a split decision from the Pre-Trial Chamber allowing investigations of five more suspects to go forward. Prime Minister Hun Sen lashes out at the ruling a few days later, warning that the approval of additional investigations and arrests risked sparking civil unrest that could claim up to 300,000 lives.
December 2009

Genocide charges are laid against Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea, marking the first time regime leaders have faced the charge in an internationally sanctioned court. Later in the month, genocide charges are also brought against Khieu Samphan (pictured) and Ieng Thirith. A closing order in Case 002 – during which all four leaders are set to be tried – is expected to be handed down in September 2010.
July 2010

The Trial Chamber finds Duch guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sentences him to 30 years in prison. Because of time already served, the prison chief faces a maximum of 19 years behind bars.

Reparations remain a key issue

Photo by: AFP
Tuol Sleng survivor Chum Mey, a civil party to Case 001 at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, reacts to yesterday’s judgment.

via Khmer NZ

Tuesday, 27 July 2010 15:02 James O'Toole

JUDGES at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday brought to a close the first international war crimes case to include direct victim participation, issuing controversial rulings on civil party admissibility and reparations.

Although many observers at the court yesterday were focused primarily on the prison sentence handed down against Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, the 90 civil party applicants who participated throughout the trial were also waiting to see how the judges would rule on their applications and their claims for reparations.

Court rules allow judges to grant “collective and moral” reparations to qualifying civil parties. In announcing the ruling on reparations, Trial Chamber president Nil Nonn said that a request by the accepted civil parties to have their names included in the final judgment had been accepted, as had a request for the compilation and publication of all statements of apology made by Duch over the course of the trial.

Other requests, Nil Nonn said, had been rejected “on the grounds that they either lacked specificity or were beyond the scope of available reparations before the ECCC”. Such requests ranged from calls for monetary awards to a request for the establishment of a national commemoration day for victims.

A request for the construction of pagoda or a similar memorial was dismissed in the judgment:

“No information has been provided, for example, regarding the identity of the owners of all proposed sites, whether they consent to the construction of each proposed memorial, or whether additional administrative authorisations such as building permits would be necessary to give effect to each measure.”

Although he called the sentence laid against Duch “thoughtful” and “considered”, Civil Parties Group 1 lawyer Karim Khan said the reparations ruling was “really the most minimal, most conservative, and perhaps it’s fair to say unimaginative that could have been ordered”. The court pledged to publish Duch’s apologies on its website within 14 days after the verdict is finalised, but civil party lawyer Yung Phanit complained that many poor Cambodians would not have access to this information.

Decisions on reparations can be appealed in the event that the prosecution appeals the judgment, and a number of civil party lawyers said they were considering doing so if circumstances allowed. Prosecutors said yesterday that they were undecided on whether to appeal.

Also contentious was the judges’ decision to declare inadmissible the claims of 24 civil party applicants who had been involved in court proceedings throughout Case 001. Hong Savath, who said her uncle had been killed at Tuol Sleng, was one of those rejected.

“I am unhappy,” she said. “The judges should have told me from the beginning that I am not a civil party.”

Some parties complained during hearings in Case 001 that civil party participants did not appear to have been vetted properly.

In the judgment, the Trial Chamber said Hong Savath had failed to provide any documentary evidence of her uncle’s detention at Tuol Sleng, saying only that she had seen his photograph during a 2008 trip to the facility.

Nil Nonn said the 24 applicants had been denied either because they had not been proved to have suffered directly at prisons administered by Duch, or because “they have failed to prove close kinship or bonds of affection or dependency” with victims of such prisons.

Civil party lawyer Kong Pisey expressed frustration that the court had allowed the rejected civil party applicants to participate throughout the trial before deciding on their claims, as did Khan.

“It’s as if the court, late in the day, is rejecting their loss and tragedy,” Khan said.

Because of changes to the court’s internal rules, decisions on civil party admissibility in future cases will be handled by the co-investigating judges before proceedings reach the Trial Chamber, part of what court officials say is an effort to streamline victim participation.

Those rejected in yesterday’s decision have the option to appeal against the decisions against them regardless of whether the prosecution appeals, an option lawyers said they were considering.

“We must pay homage to the civil parties and the courage they have displayed from the start of this case,” said civil party lawyer Martine Jacquin.