Sunday, August 26, 2007

Laura McGrew: Transitional Justice Approaches in Cambodia

Justice Initiative 139
Looking beyond the EC trials, Laura
McGrew assesses what means are
available to help Cambodians address
their past.
Justice for the 1.7 million Cambodians
who died under Khmer Rouge rule
from April 17, 1975 to January 7, 1979
has proved elusive. Finally, after
years of negotiations between the
government of Cambodia and the
United Nations, it appears that the
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts
of Cambodia for the Prosecution of
Crimes Committed during the Period
of Democratic Kampuchea (EC),1 may
begin operations in early 2006. The
purposes of the EC, as stated by the
secretariat of the government’s Task
Force on the Khmer Rouge Trials, are
to hold the senior leaders and those
most responsible accountable and to
set straight the historical record about
their crimes, to provide justice to the
Cambodian people (those who died
and the survivors), to educate the
younger generation about the Khmer
Rouge period, to strengthen the rule of
law, and to contribute to the reconstruction
of society.2
For budgetary and planning purposes,
the Cambodian government
and the UN have estimated that from
five to ten indictments would be
made, and approximately five trials
held.3 A research study using recently
available archival sources, Seven
Candidates for Prosecution, authored
by Cambodia expert Steve Heder
and Brian Tittemore of The War
Crimes Research Office at American
University, analyzes evidence of international
crimes related to the responsibility
of seven senior officials
for their roles in developing and
implementing the policies of the
Communist Party of Kampuchea
(CPK), known as the “Khmer Rouge.”4
The authors conclude that there is significant
evidence of individual criminal
responsibility against these leaders.
The EC prosecutor’s indictments
may include at least the six surviving
of those seven persons, plus former
Khmer Rouge military chief Ta Mok,
who is already in detention. An additional
suspect, Kaing Khek Iev (known
as “Duch” ) the former commander of
the Khmer Rouge prison and torture
center S-21, is also in prison. Both
Ta Mok and Duch have been detained
for more than six years, but as yet no
real investigation has taken place.
Beyond these perpetrators, who fall
under the court’s jurisdiction of “senior
leaders and those most responsible”
for Khmer Rouge crimes, there are
hundreds of mid-level leaders, and
thousands of others who committed
crimes during the Khmer Rouge period.
Seeking accountability is a hugely
Transitional Justice
Approaches in Cambodia
important goal for both Cambodians
and the broader international community.
But equally important is to assist
the Cambodian survivors in building
a better future for Cambodia. Other
mechanisms, in addition to the EC,
should be available for Cambodian
society to deal with this legacy of
past human rights abuse and mass
Beyond retributive justice
As countries emerge from periods of
armed conflict and mass violence they
seek a balance between truth, justice,
peace, and reconciliation. Justice is
balanced with political realities and
international human rights standards
with national realities. Judicial mechanisms
such as trials can serve the
following purposes: challenging a
culture of impunity; individualizing
guilt, to avoid assigning guilt collectively
to an entire group; averting
unbridled private revenge; fulfilling an
obligation to the victims to publicly
acknowledge guilt and innocence; and
deterring or punishing.5 All of these
arguments have been made at various
times in support of the EC.
The victims’ need for justice must
be balanced with the overall goals
of reconciliation—but these goals
may be contradictory and are certainly
understudied. According to one scholar,
“There is a lack of discussion
in policy circles and the international
relations literature of the relationship
between mechanisms and desired
outcomes in terms of justice and
The EC uses a retributive (statecentered)
justice model. Today, many
authors suggest that restorative (victim-
centered) justice may also have
an important role to play in countries
in transition from war and violence,
to peace and reconciliation.7 The EC
process may help survivors know
more about their past, but is unlikely
to meet their need to know the truth,
gain a full historical accounting, and
have the crimes acknowledged by the
perpetrators. For individual and societal
healing to occur, other complementary
processes are needed. However,
as one author writes, “while justice
is necessary for sowing the seeds
of reconciliation between former
enemies, it is clearly insufficient
in itself.”8 The quest for vengeance
must be balanced with forgiveness.
Remembrance must be balanced with
forgetting, so that loved ones can be
honored, but memories of the past
don’t overwhelm the present and the
future. The issues of punishment,
reparations, amnesties, and pardons
must be examined. The various types
of transitional justice approaches
may focus on accountability, and can
include both judicial and non-judicial
Scholar Martha Minow notes that
victims of massive human rights
violations often have difficulties
setting priorities between retribution,
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Seeking accountability is a hugely
important goal. But equally important
is to assist the Cambodian survivors in
building a better future for Cambodia.
public acknowledgement, financial
redress, psychological or spiritual
healing, building trust, establishing
or strengthening democratic institutions,
or focusing on deterrence.9
Cambodian survivors, who were dehumanized
during the great hardships
of the Khmer Rouge regime, deserve
an opportunity to restore their feelings
of dignity and worth—and former
Khmer Rouge should ideally play
a role in this process. The potential
healing such a process can eventually
provide is immense, but the trauma
that will invariably result from old
memories must be considered as well
through adequate and widespread
mental health services.
Many Cambodians and observers,
including the government and the
UN, have said that national reconciliation
is also a goal of the EC. The
UN Secretary-General has addressed
these concerns in his latest report on
the EC: “I am aware of the expectation
of the Government of Cambodia and
the international community that
the Extraordinary Chambers will contribute
substantially to national reconciliation
in Cambodia.” The report
then goes on to describe the importance
of outreach programs and media
attention.10 The premise is that only
by finding justice can a society
then move towards reconciliation.
However, some fear the tribunal
process may damage national reconciliation,
as old memories are stirred,
resentments raised and vengeance
reconsidered. In any case, there is an
urgent need for consultations within
Cambodian civil society to help determine
how best the EC could lead
towards truth, justice, and reconciliation.
Consultations should include
how mental health, education, and
outreach programs can be devised
to best support the EC process, as well
as any other complementary transitional
justice mechanisms that may
be applicable.
For a full accounting and a holistic,
societal approach, the different
perspectives of victims, survivors,
perpetrators, and bystanders must be
considered. To maximize the impact
of the EC, needs that are not met in
that process should be addressed
simultaneously elsewhere, to the maximum
degree possible. The government
states that prosecutions have
been limited to senior leaders and
those most responsible “in the spirit
of achieving justice, truth, and national
reconciliation.”11 However, in the
words of Judy Barsalou, “[p]erceptions
of the desirability of pursuing truth,
justice, and reconciliation, as well
as the appropriate means of doing
so, vary considerably among victims
. . . and are shaped by time, group
identity, location, and other factors.”12
Thus a process involving a broad cross
section of society is needed to explore
the various views and aspects so that
Justice Initiative 141
As countries emerge from periods of
armed conflict and mass violence they
seek a balance between truth, justice,
peace, and reconciliation.
the processes work towards reconciliation
and societal healing.
What do Cambodians want?13
The views of ordinary Cambodians
have been remarkable for their absence
throughout the negotiations over the
EC, except through some incomplete
and non-representative surveys done
by a handful individuals and organizations.
Although during the negotiation
period between 1997 and 2004, the
UN did consult certain members of
civil society for short meetings, this
process was neither inclusive nor
transparent. Ideally, once the process
of setting up the EC begins, a more
open environment will exist where
such discussions become more prevalent
and ordinary Cambodians may
have a chance to share their views. In
June and July 2005, there were several
public meetings about the EC, where
members of civil society and the government
all presented. These are
encouraging signs that the process is
finally beginning—and many believe
that once the EC starts it will take on a
life of its own and spark discussions in
In brief, according to existing
surveys, most Cambodians want trials
for the Khmer Rouge leaders, and
most prefer international trials. While
most want to try the leaders, some
want to try others besides the leaders,
either the regional authorities, or the
specific perpetrators who killed their
individual family members.
Almost 100 percent of those
surveyed want to know the truth, why
Khmer killed Khmer and how did this
happen. Oftentimes they ask who
was behind the Khmer Rouge, implying
that China and/or Vietnam were
the masterminds who manipulated
the Khmer Rouge leaders into killing
their own people.14 However, probably
due to lack of exposure, few suggested
a truth commission—if such a process
were to be tried, intensive public education
would be needed.
Few (and fewer as time passes) have
been concerned that the peace would
be disturbed as a result of transitional
justice mechanisms. However, notable
exceptions to this occur in towns such
as Pailin, in Northwest Cambodia,
which were controlled by the Khmer
Rouge until well into the 1990s.
Amnesty was seen by the majority
as unacceptable. Civil sanctions,
though incompletely explored in
surveys, were found to be highly desirable.
Reparations had been initially
seen as unlikely, but as plans for the
EC develop, and meetings have been
held by human rights organizations to
promote this concept, positive public
opinion is growing. Views on confessions,
apologies and forgiveness remain
mixed, with more research needed.
Cambodians are not pleased with
the weak apologies offered by some of
the Khmer Rouge leaders, and are
even outraged by the blanket denials
or blaming of others. The concept
of reconciliation, especially “national
reconciliation” has often been cited as
a reason (especially by some government
authorities) to forgive and sometimes
forget. But most Cambodians
are not willing to forget, though some
felt they could forgive. Many still
suffer from nightmares. Cambodians
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feel that reconciliation is an important
goal for Cambodia, and some feel
that the trials or other mechanisms
can help the process.
Rebuilding trust in Cambodian
society, whose social fabric was torn
apart during the Khmer Rouge years,
is seen as an important goal. Other
surveys are needed, ideally a nationwide
consultation. As the EC’s time
approaches, more researchers are
conducting limited surveys, the results
of which will ideally become available
in the near future.
Judicial and quasi-judicial
In the thirty years since the end of
Khmer Rouge rule, a number of
transitional justice mechanisms have
been established. Beyond national and
international tribunals, these include:
truth commissions, civil sanctions or
vetting, reparations, and community
reconciliation mechanisms.15 All of
these mechanisms have been discussed
by various actors in reference
to Cambodia, but some—in particular
a truth commission—seem unlikely
at present, especially while the EC
has still not begun.
Truth commissions
“Truth commission” is the acquired
name of official truth-seeking bodies
that document a pattern of past
human rights abuses. Four primary
elements distinguish them. They are:
1) focused on the past; 2) not focused
on a particular event; they attempt to
paint an overall picture of certain
human rights abuses or violations of
international law over a period of time;
3) temporary, for a predefined period
of time; they cease to exist with the
submission of the report of findings;
4) officially sanctioned by the government
to investigate the past; their
authority allows for greater access to
information, for security and protection,
and for inquiry into sensitive
issues.16 During the negotiations for
the EC, the topic of a truth commission
was raised, including by Prime
Minister Hun Sen. A Group of Experts
appointed by the UN in 1998, recommended
that “in addition to an ad hoc
international tribunal, “the United
Nations, in cooperation with the
Cambodian Government and non-governmental
sector, encourage a process
of reflection among Cambodians
to determine the desirability and, if
appropriate, the modalities of a truthtelling
mechanism to provide a fuller
picture of the atrocities of the period of
Democratic Kampuchea.”17 However,
due to political exigencies, this recommendation
has never been pursued,
nor has a truth commission or public
process ever truly been an option.
Too many people in power fear that
such a process could either embarrass
or implicate them, and the competition
for power between the various
political parties and for economic
benefit takes precedence over any
Justice Initiative 143
“Truth” is more likely to be
examined more completely in a truth
commission than in trials.
potentially disruptive process. The
United Nations has also not followed
through with their recommendation.
Truth commissions were addressed
specifically in two of the surveys noted
above.18 In both cases, Cambodian
respondents did not seem interested in
the idea. However, this is probably
because those asked were unfamiliar
with the concept—the same respondents
in many cases stated the goal
of discovering the truth about what
happened and why.19 “Truth” is more
likely to be examined more completely
in a truth commission than in trials.
In the broad public consultations
proposed, more education is needed
about various transitional justice mechanisms,
including truth commissions,
so Cambodians can decide the most
appropriate processes themselves.
“Reparations provide compensation to
victims of human rights abuses, usually
in the form of money, but also
as material, medical, or educational
benefits . . . Reparations are intended
to repair the past damage to improve a
victim’s or survivor’s lot in a material
way.”20 There are no specific provisions
for reparations in the EC law.
Property or money may be confiscated
from defendants who have acquired
it unlawfully or by criminal conduct,
but it should then be turned over
to the state.21 Under Cambodian law,
victims can seek reparations only
through simultaneous civil suits
brought in criminal cases. Although
reparations were not flagged as a
priority in surveys, in Justice Initiative
meetings carried out in summer
2005, Cambodians have more often
asked if they may receive reparations
through the EC. On the other hand,
others realize that individual payments
for family members who died,
or those who otherwise suffered are
unlikely, as there were so many victims.
Neither the Cambodian government
nor other governments are seen
as having funds to pay reparations.
However, some recent movements
may bring more attention to this issue.
In March 2005, the Fédération internationale
des ligues des droits de
l’homme (FIDH) held a conference
with Cambodian human rights NGOs
ADHOC and LICADHO, focusing on
victims’ rights. The recommendations
included: “Consultations with civil
society [are] also essential, notably
on the appropriate forms of reparation
for victims, particularly collective and
symbolic forms of reparation.”22
A new “Collective for the Victims of
the Khmer Rouge” (CVIC-KR) has
been established in France as an open
coalition of various organizations and
individuals. Their purpose is to coordinate
efforts to assist victims wishing
to be represented and exercise their
rights during the trials.23
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Other examples of non-judicial activities to
deal with the legacy of the past are based
on Cambodian culture and tradition.
The question of vetting—which would
involve removing convicted individuals
from their current positions—
is problematic in Cambodia. Some
former Khmer Rouge leaders still hold
positions in successor groups to the
Khmer Rouge’s banned Communist
Party of Kampuchea. Removal from
positions in these parties barely
constitutes a sanction as they have
no real public authority to begin with.
However, many of these leaders are
still treated with respect, and are
addressed by diplomatic titles—in
particular Ieng Sary, who maintains
a home in Phnom Penh. Although
most of the surveys of Cambodians
did not ask directly about lustration:
“Even among those participants
who didn’t want former Khmer Rouge
leaders to go to prison, many felt
strongly that [they] should not be treated
like high officials and given titles.
Several mentioned they should not
be allowed to live in fancy houses
and that they should not be called
‘your Excellency’.”24
Non-judicial mechanisms
Other complementary means to assist
societies in recovering from mass
violence have already been undertaken
in Cambodia, most importantly by the
Documentation Center of Cambodia
(DC-Cam).25 DC-Cam’s mission is
captured in their monthly publication
title: “Searching for the Truth.” Their
many projects include documenting
written, photographic, and other materials;
gathering histories; interviewing
victims and perpetrators; researching
various topics, such as crimes against
particular minority groups and the
roles and memories of various ranks
of the former Khmer Rouge military;
planning public memorials; undertaking
public opinion surveys, writing
competitions, and the translation of
materials. Their public information
room opened in 2005 and includes a
library, an education center to show
films, a café and welcome center, and
a tribunal response team to provide
research assistance to the public.26
Other examples of non-judicial
activities to deal with the legacy of
the past are ongoing and based
on Cambodian culture and tradition
(the yearly ceremonies to honor the
ancestors or Pchum Bun, and other
ceremonies to honor those who have
died) while others are more recent
additions to Cambodian society (the
public “Day of Hate” holiday, community
reintegration projects, and conflict
resolution training).27
Memorials and traditional ceremonies
In 1982, the then Cambodian
Government’s28 “Salvation Front”
created a “Research committee into
the Crimes of the Pol Pot Regime,”
which produced a report in 1983.29
The report had gathered petitions
from 1,166,307 Cambodians and
recommended that May 20 be established
as a “Day to commemorate the
Justice Initiative 145
History curriculum in schools still lacks an
explanation of the Khmer Rouge period.
sufferings inflicted by the crimes
of the regime led by Pol Pot, Ieng
Sary, and Khieu Samphan.”30 This day
is still a public holiday in Cambodia,
known in English as the “Day of
Hate.” Some suggest a better translation
would be “Day of Maintaining
Rage” for T’veer Chong Kamhaeng—
literally the “Day for Tying Anger.”31
The event is sometimes seen as a
vestige of the former Vietnam-backed
Peoples Republic of Kampuchea.
The 1982 Research Committee also
recommended that memorials and
inscriptions to the genocide be erected
in Phnom Penh and the provinces.
Many of these still exist, but unfortunately
they do not always reflect
Cambodian tradition. Instead of cremated
remains ceremoniously placed
in traditional stupas, or Buddhist
temples, existing memorials are often
little more than piles of skulls and
bones. There have been efforts over
the years to conduct ceremonies to
cremate the remains of the killing
fields properly, in order to allow the
wandering souls of victims to rest.
Historical projects and writing
More and more Cambodians have
written about the EC—especially those
working at DC-Cam, and a handful
of others, most of whom were refugees
or have studied overseas. Although
many of these documents are written
in English or French, they are increasingly
translated into Khmer. There are
few history books in Khmer, and the
history curriculum in schools still lacks
an explanation of the Khmer Rouge
period. During the 1980s, there was
extensive education and propaganda
about the former regime, but with the
peace accords in 1991 this curriculum
was revised due to the presence of the
Khmer Rouge in the coalition and has
not yet been updated.32
Community level
Community level projects may include
trauma healing and counseling,
village development, and conflict resolution
training, including discussions
on the Khmer Rouge past. Research
on these activities remains sparse
but much reconciliation has undoubtedly
already occurred in communities
where victims and perpetrators live
together on a day to day basis.
The Center for Social Development
(CSD) has well-established formats for
public forums, where key stakeholders
are invited to large public meetings
to discuss particular topics. In 2000,
CSD held three such forums on the
topic of the EC in Phnom Penh,
Battambang and Kampong Som.33
A brief survey was conducted after
each meeting, eliciting opinions on
the EC. Because former Khmer Rouge
cadre attended the meetings there
were many fears that there would be
violence or vengeance, but these were
not realized—at least on the days of
the forums themselves.
The Cambodian premiere of the
film “Deacon of Death: Looking for
Justice in Today’s Cambodia” was
held on July 19, 2005.34 In the film,
a Cambodian woman, Sok Chea, is
assisted by an NGO worker in visiting
the village where she had lived and
where her father was killed during
the Khmer Rouge regime. The woman
confronts the man she accuses of
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causing her father’s death, saying she
wants to hear him acknowledge his
acts. This film was the first public
event showing Cambodians dealing
with the past, and interviews a variety
of villagers, some of whom still feel
angry and are seeking revenge, while
others want to forget. It also focuses
on the accused man’s current activities
as a traditional healer and other “good”
acts that indicate he is apparently
trying to make up for his past. After
the film’s screening, Sok Chea stood
up and emotionally called for justice
for her father’s death. According to
one of the film-makers, Willem Van
de Put, who has lived in Cambodia
for three years and directs the
mental health NGO Transcultural
Psychosocial Organization (TPO), the
film is intended to assist Cambodians
to start a dialogue: “this could help
thousands to address their pasts
earlier than if they hadn’t seen the
film. But you must be with the group,
find the right time, the right way talk
about it. After two to three times, you
can go away and people will figure
it out themselves . . . The film can
be used, but you have to know how to
use it; we will be working on this, it
is only the beginning.”35 The response
to the film was mixed. Some observers
thought such an open confrontational
approach was not “Cambodian” and
that the results might be negative. But
this and other films36 have been and
probably will be increasingly used
in communities.
Although it is hoped that the
EC will shed light on Cambodia’s tragic
history, a broadly representative
dialogue is needed within Cambodian
society about appropriate transitional
justice mechanisms. To meet the
needs of Cambodians—to know “why
Khmer killed Khmer,”—some sort of
national or community-based truthtelling
mechanism is needed, given
that a truth commission is unlikely.
In any case, Cambodian scholars and
others should be supported to write
more books with information that
is then made accessible to the public.
Since literacy is low, particularly in the
countryside, films addressing the past
and other non-text public information
projects, such as the museum sponsored
by DC-Cam, will be important.
For successful reconciliation and healing
of society, these activities and their
effects on individual Cambodians as
well as on Cambodian society at large,
need much more study and funding.
“I heard from many people, from
radio, or direct, etc, they want to know
why. Their family and the relatives
that died during the Pol Pot regime, and
all of us we don’t know what happened,
and what are the relations between
Khmer Rouge, and China and US and
also with. . . [ former Cambodian King]
Sihanouk. . . . What was the goal, to kill
many people from hunger? Why send
people to the border and countryside, and
Justice Initiative 147
To meet the needs of Cambodians—to
know “why Khmer killed Khmer,”—some
sort of national or community-based
truth-telling mechanism is needed.
why [did] they want to abolish the city?. . .
All of that is in the darkness. If we try
the Khmer Rouge, we would like to learn
from that regime, and to share with the
young generation so they do not do the
same. And we should try to improve the
situation rather than killing each other.
And also from the other part of the people
who were the victims, they still cry when
they talk about it, when we hear it on
the radio. Me too, if I talk about this,
I cry . . . .We must do the trial, so that
we know. I am sometimes crazy. . . crazy
because we don’t know what happened,
why they wanted to kill people. [If we can]
bring them to the trial, this is one thought
that makes the people hope. We should
think about this. If we do wrong, maybe
now nobody can kill us or put is in jail, or
blame us or sanction us, but later there
will be others who can make sanctions
for others who do something wrong. This
could make the people happy, make them
confident, make them trust law.”37
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Laura McGrew is a former project coordinator with the Open Society Justice Initiative.
1. Khmer Rouge rule lasted from April 17, 1975 to January 6, 1979.
2. Secretariat of the Royal Government Task Force on the KR Trials, An Introduction to the Khmer
Rouge Tribunals, Secretariat of the Royal Government Task Force (August 2004), 5.
3. See for example, Fred Eckard, “Agreement Reached for Khmer Rouge Trials in Cambodia,”
United Nations, Highlights of the Noon Briefing, UN Headquarters, New York, December 17, 2003:
“For the purpose of drafting a budget proposal, a range of five to ten indictees was assumed by both
parties, but this figure could change depending on the investigative and prosecutorial strategy that
the future court may wish to adopt.”
4. Steve Heder and Brian D. Tittemore, Seven Candidates for Prosecution: Accountability for the
Crimes of the Khmer Rouge, Phnom Penh, Documentation Center of Cambodia (2004), 1.
(Originally published by the War Crimes Research Office, American University, and the Center
for International Justice in 2001.)
5. Meng-Try Ea, “Justice and Reconciliation: Case Study Cambodia,” a dissertation submitted
in partial fulfillment of the University’s requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, Centre
for the Study of Forgiveness and Reconciliation, Coventry University (September 2003), 11.
6. Wendy Lambourne, “Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: Meeting Human Needs for Justice and
Reconciliation,” Peace, Conflict and Development, 6 (April 2004).
7. Mica Estrada-Hollenbeck, “The Attainment of Justice through Restoration, not Litigation:
The Subjective Road to Reconciliation,” in Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Reconciliation, Justice and
Coexistence: Theory and Practice, Lexington Books (2001); Luc Huse, “Justice” in David Bloomfield,
Teresa Barnes and Luc Huyse (eds.), Reconciliation After Violent Conflict: A Handbook, International
Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (2003); Neil Kritz (ed.), Transitional Justice: How
Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes, Vols. I–III, United States Institute of Peace Press
(1995); Eric Stover and Harvey M. Weinstein, My Neighbor, My Enemy, Cambridge University Press
8. See generally Meng-Try Ea, “Justice and Reconciliation.”
9. Martha Minow, Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass
Violence, Beacon Press (1998), 4.
10. United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Secretary General on the Khmer Rouge Trials.
UNGA, A/59/432, October 12, 2004, 5.
11. Secretariat of the Royal Government Task Force on the KR Trials, An Introduction to the Khmer
Rouge Tribunals, 6.
12. Judy Barsalou, “Trauma and Transitional Justice in Divided Societies,” United States Institute of
Peace Special Report 135 (April 2005), 10, available at:
13. Information in the following section is taken from the following survey sources: Documentation
Center of Cambodia survey of 35 Cambodians, June 1997, described in Jaya Ramji, “Reclaiming
Cambodian history: The case for a truth commission,” 24 Fletcher Forum of World Affairs 137 (2000);
Laura McGrew, Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Peace in Cambodia: 20 years after the Khmer Rouge
(February 2000), available at:, full report available from the author, lamcgrew@ (written survey of 48 Cambodians and focus groups and individual interviews of 50
additional Cambodians); Suzannah Linton, Reconciliation in Cambodia, Documentation Center of
Cambodia, Documentation Series No. 5, (2004). Reports on DC-Cam nationwide survey distributed
through monthly magazine, between January and September 2002 (712 respondents), available at:; Khmer Institute of Democracy, “Survey on the Khmer Rouge Regime and the
Khmer Rouge Trial,”; KID (October 2004), available at:, (536 interviews).
Additional informal sources include IFFRASORC (Institute Français de la Statistique, de
Sondage d’Opinion de Recherche sur le Cambodge), unpublished national survey of 1,503
Cambodians, 1998; Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, petition calling for EC signed
by more than 100,000 Cambodians; Cambodia Daily, informal survey of 24 rural Cambodians,
January 12-13, 2000; and three public forums undertaken by the Center for Social Development
in 2000 to discuss the EC.
14. This desire is echoed in the numerous meetings the Open Society Justice Initiative has held
in 2004 and 2005. People are often heard to say “Khmer couldn’t kill Khmer.”
15. See generally Minow, Between Vengeance and Forgiveness.
16. Priscilla B. Hayner, Unspeakable Truths: Facing the Challenges of Truth Commissions, Routledge
Press (2002); Priscilla B. Hayner, “In Pursuit of Justice and Reconciliation: Contributions of Truth
Telling,” in Arnson, Cynthia J., Comparative Peace Processes in Latin America, Woodrow Wilson
Center Press (1999); and Priscilla B Hayner, “Commissioning the Truth: Further Research
Questions,” 1 Third World Quarterly, 17 (1996), 20–21.
17. United Nations General Assembly and Security Council, “Identical Letters Dated 15 March 1999
from the Secretary-General to the President of the General Assembly and the President of the
Security Council,” United Nations, A/53/850, S/1999/231, March 16, 1999, 2.
18. See surveys by Ramji and McGrew.
19. Linton, Reconciliation in Cambodia, 219; McGrew, Truth, Justice, Reconciliation, 17–19.
20. Patrick J. Pierce, Transitional Justice Basics, Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (2003),
21. Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the
Prosecution of Crimes Committed During the Period of Democratic Kampuchea, Passed by National
Assembly on October 4 and by Senate on October 8, 2004, Phnom Penh Cambodia. Available at:
22. FIDH Press Release, Recommendations Concerning the Khmer Rouge Tribunal and Its
Articulation with the International Criminal Court,” Report of the March 2-3, 2005 Conference,
23. See or email
24. McGrew, Truth, Justice, Reconciliation, 34.
25. See Documentation Center of Cambodia website:
26. “Public Information Room,” Searching for the Truth, 42 (First Quarter 2005).
27. Craig Etcheson, “Reconciliation in Cambodia: Theory and Practice” (Study Guide), 2005.
Justice Initiative 149
28. Known as the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, or PRK.
29. Tom Fawthrop and Helen Jarvis, Getting Away with Genocide? Elusive Justice and the Khmer Rouge
Tribunal, Pluto Press (2004), 72.
30. Fawthrop and Jarvis, Getting Away with Genocide?, 73.
31. Fawthrop and Jarvis, Getting Away with Genocide?, 74.
32. In 2004, Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan (or his lawyer Jacques Verges) published a history
of the Khmer Rouge, essentially denying his responsibility in the structure and knowledge of the
atrocities. This book, now available in Khmer, French and English, was an instant hit and thousands
of copies sold in a matter of days at Cambodian markets. This reaction showed the strong interest of
Cambodians to read about former Khmer Rouge leaders. See Khieu Samphan, Cambodia’s Recent
History: And the Reasons Behind the Decisions I Made, Puy Kea, Ponleu Khmer Printing & Publishing
House (2004).
33. Center for Social Development, “National Issues Forum Report: Khmer Rouge and National
Reconciliation, 30 March 2000,”
34. “Deacon of Death: Looking for Justice in Today’s Cambodia,” A Film by Jan van den Berg and
Willem van de Put, a co-production of drsFILM and the Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation,
35. Closing speech of Willem van de Put, General Director, Healthnet International, at film showing
of “Deacon of Death: Looking for Justice in Today’s Cambodia,” July 19, 2005.
36. Other films include “S-21” by award winning filmmaker Rithy Panh, in which a Tuol Sleng survivor
confronts his former jailers , and “The Khmer Rouge Rice Fields: The Story of Rape Survivor
Tang Kim” by Rachana Phat and DC-Cam, in which Tang Kim talks about her feelings towards her
37. Interview in Phnom Penh with NGO staff, April 18, 2005.
150 Open Society
The Extraordinary Chambers

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