CJA and our partner Applied Social Research Institute of Cambodia (ASRIC) — a Cambodian community-based organization — have filed five civil party applications for the third case before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The UN-backed ECCC, a hybrid tribunal comprised of Cambodian and international judges, is hearing cases involving crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and1979.
The third case before the ECCC has come under increased scrutiny and controversy. The court announced on April 29, 2011 that “the investigation of Case 003 is now closed.” The news came as a shock to survivors and civil society groups worldwide. According to the tribunal monitor from the Open Society Justice Initiative, the court has closed the third case without conducting any field investigations or interviewing suspects. The International Prosecutor of the ECCC acknowledged that the crimes have not been fully investigated and has requested further investigative action by the court.
Once an investigation is closed, survivors have only 15 days to submit requests to participate in the case as a civil party. However, the Court has neither disclosed the names of the potential defendants in Case 003 nor, until recently, released any information about the crimes under investigation.
“This unrealistic time frame and lack of information and transparency has barred a large number of survivors from pursuing their rights to meaningfully participate in the proceedings as civil parties,” says Nushin Sarkarati, CJA staff attorney and international civil party lawyer before the ECCC. “The actions of the Court suggest that there is no intention to pursue a third and fourth case before the ECCC, which would be a tremendous injustice to these survivors,” says Dr. Leakhena Nou, ASRIC founding director.
The survivors who filed in May 2011 are complainants and civil parties before the Court in Case 002. They have filed their applications to show that justice will not be served unless the Court continues with its mandate to prosecute the senior leaders and those most responsible for the crimes under the Khmer Rouge.
“I filed as a Civil Party in Case 003 because I want justice for the past and accountability for the future, and the prosecution of Cases 001 and 002 with five defendants between them affords neither justice nor accountability. My filing is also a message to anyone out there claiming that Civil Parties are satisfied with Cases 001 and 002 and five defendants. I can certainly speak for myself, thank you very much.”
– Sophal Ear, Civil Party in Case 002
ASRIC’s Dr. Leakhena Nou states that “the significance of ASRIC’s achievement has been to break the silence of atrocities and to promote the psycho-emotional health of our survivors by actively engaging them in the pursuit of distributive justice that matters for Cambodia’s future for all.” As one of our elderly survivors stated, “Our role is to tell the truth as living witnesses before it’s too late to offer lessons of life for the next generation; we want to be models of courage to challenge the status quo in order to seek justice.” Roth Prom, Complainant in Case 002.
ASRIC and CJA, with their special areas of expertise, are working together to bring justice to those who suffered under the Khmer Rouge genocide of 1975-1979.
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