Khmer Rouge Tribunal begins new phase with wider scope

August 28, 2014

The Khmer Rouge tribunal's ongoing proceedings against the former Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are entering their second and final phase with broader attention to the regime's crimes, reports Sok Khemara in a Voice of America Cambodia article titled, "Experts See Expanded Scope in Impending Khmer Rouge Trial," published on August 27. “Although no trial could realistically deal with all of the high-level crimes committed in Democratic Kampuchea," John Ciorciari tells Voice of America, the second phase of the proceedings will  ensure that the tribunal covers, "a reasonably representative sample of the major types of crimes alleged.”

The second phase of the tribunal will determine the Cambodian communist group's responsibility for crimes such as genocide, forced marriage, and party purges. Ciorciari tells Voice of America that the most important task for the United Nations-back court will be to conduct, “an efficient and transparent trial…which in some respects is the most significant trial that will face the court.”

“This trial provides the best opportunity to provide a broad account of various forms of Khmer Rouge brutality and thus also to give a representative form of justice to the myriad survivors who suffered from similar abuses,” says Ciorciari. Despite the guilty verdict recently returned on Chea and Samphan for crimes against humanity, many survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime and members of the international community have been disappointed by the trials, which have moved slowly amid reports of corruption and inconsistency since the establishment of the tribunal in 1997.

John Ciorciari is an assistant professor of public policy at the Ford School and a senior legal advisor to the Documentation Center of Cambodia. He is co-author of Hybrid Justice: The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.