Legal Aid for Cambodia (LAC) has been representing victims who participate as Civil Parties at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal since 2008 through the lawyers Mr. Lor Chunthy and Mr. Sam Sokong with financial support from GIZ for the project called “Civil Peace Service” (CPS) which implements its “Justice and Reconciliation Program in the context of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal” since 2007. One of the fields of intervention of the program is “Civil Party Participation” at the ECCC.
In 1997, the Royal Government of Cambodia requested the United Nations (UN) to assist in establishing the ECCC in order to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to court. In 2001, the Cambodian National Assembly adopted law on the ECCC establishment to hold trial on serious crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime (“Law on ECCC”). The Law on ECCC was amended in 2004 based on the Agreement of the United Nations and Cambodian Government, dated 2002, to bring to the trial the most responsible leaders of Democratic Kampuchea who allegedly committed crime during the period between April 17, 1975 and January 6, 1979. The Court started proceedings in 2006 and issued indictments on the first five suspected persons in 2007. In the same year the ECCC adopted internal rules. Rule 23 deals with Civil Party Action by Victims. When joined as a civil Party, the victim becomes a party to the criminal proceedings and cannot be questioned as a simple witness – but under the same conditions as a Charged Person or Accused. Rule 23 says:
“The purpose of Civil Party action before the ECCC is to:
- Participate in criminal proceedings against those responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the ECCC by supporting the prosecution; and
- Allow Victims to seek collective and moral reparations, as provided in this rule.”
“In order for Civil Party action to be admissible, the injury must be:
- Physical, material or psychological; and
- The direct consequence of the offence, personal, and have actually come into being”
As of December 2010, with the assistance of local organizations and associations, the ECCC’s Victim Support Section (VSS) received 4,128 Civil Party (CP) applications. Among the 4,128 applicants, the Co-Investigating Judges admitted 2,122 of applicants as Civil Parties (CPs) and the remaining amount were rejected. As the result of Appeal of Co-Civil Party Lawyers with assistance from their legal team, on June 24, 2011 the Pre-trial Chamber admitted more 1,728 civil party appellants as Civil Parties. Therefore, it total up to 3,850 Civil Parties before the ECCC in case 002, including 1,217 CPs for whom LAC’s lawyers are representing where 134 CPs are Khmer Krom, 45 CPs are Vietnamese, and 41 CPs are widow(er)s of Cambodian-Vietnamese mixed-marriages, 27 CPs are from the Cambodia diaspora, 224 CPs are Cham-Muslim and 746 CPs are Khmer Civil Parties in general.
During 2015, The ECCC’s Supreme Court Chamber (“SCC”) will hear the appealed case 002/01, while case 002/02 will be heard by the Trial Chamber on the expected facts of genocidal crime, treatment of the specific groups, forced marriage, and other alleged facts following the schedule of the trial which will be determined soon.
GIZ-CPS has supported victim participation and legal representation of Civil Parties at the ECCC since 2008 by providing capacity building to LAC lawyers representing Civil Parties at the ECCC.
Due to the ongoing Court proceedings it strongly appears worthwhile for GIZ-CPS to continue its Civil Party Participation component. This TOR has been prepared to cover the work of LAC during the project period and is to be attached to its GIZ contract.
- High quality legal representation is given to civil parties at the ECCC.
- Civil Parties are aware of the proceedings and developments of the ECCC.
- Ideas for collective and moral reparations in Case 022/2 are developed