Why is the international community interested in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal?

Posted by khmernews on August 8, 2008

Many questions are being asked why the international community is interested in the Khmer Rouge tribunal. It’s not easy to answer as there are many reasons behind this interest.

The first reason is that it is significantly important to note that the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), commonly known as the Khmer Rouge tribunal, has been established under the negotiation between the Cambodian government and the United Nations. This means that the tribunal is an internationally political issue. The International Criminal Tribunals around the world always draw attention from the international community. However, the Khmer Rouge tribunal, which also practices the Cambodia’s legal system, is different from the international courts in Yugoslavia and in Rwanda, in which only international laws are practiced.

That is to say, the Khmer Rouge tribunal employs both the national and international laws simultaneously. In the recent years, the international courts for Sierra Leone and East Timor have used the same practice to that of Cambodia, calling it “hybrid court”, an international criminal judicial practice in which people from different countries work together to see whether the tribunal can work efficiently and produce good results.

Moreover, most of the financial assistance to the tribunal is given by the United Nations and other governments.  Indeed, the UN and donor community want to find out what will happen to their money. Therefore, they have sent people to observe the court process for them. Furthermore, many international NGOs and some donor NGOs are determined to help Cambodia to find justice and reconciliation. Since the establishment of the ECCC, there have been many important steps made in the reconciliation process in Cambodia. Some NGOs strive to support the Khmer Rouge tribunal through the dissemination of information about the tribunal, making everyone talk about the history of Cambodia. They also help the people to have relationship with the Khmer Rouge tribunal. As a foreigner who comes to Cambodia to work with Youth for Peace in reconciliation process, I have found some issues which I could relate them with my experience in Germany. The Khmer Rouge tribunal and the memory of the Khmer Rouge survivors are very important.

By listening to the events the survivors recall, the court’s officials could adjust the time of the “Khmer Rouge regime”. If the young generations want to study the past, they should listen or read the accounts of those survivors. It is very important for them. As for my experience, I tried to study and understand the size of violence and war in Germany during the World War II by listening to the survivors such as my grandparents. I know, however, that some people do not like to talk about their past, but this is the only way to make people understand what had happened. That’s the reason why I think that Youth for Peace is doing a good project organizing the local discussion forum.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Youth for Justice and Reconciliation, vol. 2, trimester 2, June 2008.


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