THE MAÂT TEAM PROJECT
The Maât Team Project is a Project established within the KRT Project (Khmer Rouge Tribunal) and located in the Cambodian NGO “Legal Aid of Cambodia”, and in the framework of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (“ECCC”).
It has started from 10 March 2010, date of the signature of the Agreement with the French Embassy which is the main donor (along with DED, the German Cooperation Service). This Project is funded for a period of 2 years, until February 2012. Currently, the project is continuously funded by the French Embassy until July 2013.
COMPOSITION OF THE MAÂT TEAM
The Project is composed by:
– two lawyers: Maître LOR Chunthy and Maître Olivier BAHOUGNE (French Lawyer registered both in the French and the Cambodian Bar Associations),
– one Coordinator of the Legal Team: Ms. Ines CHHENOUFI,
– one Senior Legal Assistant: Ms. SOCHEAT Chunnineath,
– one Legal Assistants: Ms. Veng Solina.
The three legal assistants have been recruited March 2010 and have started working in May 2010.
The Maât Team works in the three working languages of the ECCC: Khmer, French and English.
The co-lawyers LOR Chunthy (Cambodian) and Olivier BAHOUGNE (French) have decided to work together in ‘’the MAÂT Project: Towards the Best Representation of the Victims of the Khmer Rouge Regime Before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia’’(hereinafter ECCC).
The long experience of Legal Aid of Cambodia and the lawyers, Lor Chunthy and Olivier Bahougne, regarding legal representation of Victims, is now uncontested. Indeed, the Lawyer Lor Chunthy has been one of the first Cambodian lawyers to be registered with the Victims Unit and to represent Civil Parties before the ECCC in Case 002. Olivier Bahougne is registered with the Cambodian Bar Association since November 2008 and is well experienced thanks to many years of practice as a lawyer in criminal cases.
They have started to work together since November 2008 on a regular basis, on then, since March 2010, within the Maât Team Project.
The Lawyers represent more than 560 Victims who have applied to become Civil Parties. These Civil Parties and Civil Party applicants live in most of the Provinces of Cambodia as well as in France, where they have fled the Khmer Rouge Regime. Almost half of the Civil Parties belong to the Cham ethnic and religious (Muslim) minority, which was considered during the Democratic Kampuchea as the main enemies of the Regime.
They also represent Catholic Victims, Buddhist Monks as well as victims of crimes under the jurisdiction of the ECCC.
They represent 224 men and 340 women, among whom 224 Cham and Khmer-Islam Civil Parties (including 142 women and 82 men).
The Cham and the Khmer-Islam persons were particularly persecuted during the Democratic Kampuchea Regime. It is estimated by historians (such as Mr. Ben Kiernan), and confirmed by the Demographic Expertise Report, ordered by the co-Investigating Judges, that they were 250.000 in 1975, and that 36% of their population has been killed or disappeared during the regime (whereas the death toll for the Khmer population is of 18.7%).
The trial is foreseen to start in the year 2011, around March as for the initial hearings, dealing with procedural matters (such as consideration of the lists of potential witnesses and experts to be heard by the Court, initial specification of the reparation awards sought, as well as preliminary objections), and later in the year, the substantive hearing.
During the trial phase, the Maât Civil Party Lawyers will work in collaboration with the national and international lead co-lawyers. According to the Internal Rules of the ECCC, the main responsibilities of the lead co-lawyers are: representing the interests of the consolidated group of Civil Parties, overall advocacy, strategy and in-court presentation of the interests of the Civil Parties. However, they will collaborate with the Civil Party Lawyers in order to work towards the best representation of the Civil Parties.
The Maât Team Project has two main objectives:
1. the legal representation of the Civil Parties, victims belonging to the Cham ethnic and religious minority and victims of religious persecutions, as well as of other crimes under the jurisdiction of the ECCC, in order to ensure that their voices are heard and their rights and interests respected;
2. the capacity building of Cambodian lawyers and legal assistants working on this Project. Together with the Coordinator of the Legal Team, they assist the two Lawyers in their every day legal and administrative activities.