Saturday, October 10, 2009

Read On! About Khmer Rouge Trials

(Read On! ... occasional posts on writing we're reading)

I've just had the chance to review a great new volume on the proceedings before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia edited by John Ciorciari (below right) and Anne Hendel (right) entitled On Trial: The Khmer Rouge Accountability Process.
John just joined the faculty of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the University of Michigan after spending some time with the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University. After serving as Assistant Director of the War Crimes Research Office at American University, Anne, an IntLawGrrls guest/alumna, joined the Documentation Center of Cambodia as a full time legal advisor. (John also advises the Center). Both have been long-time Cambodia watchers, and this book is the culmination of their work in this area to date.
Both Ann and John have chapters in the book, and they are joined other foreign and Cambodian researchers exploring these topics. In addition to providing a useful overview of the Extraordinary Chambers in terms of structure and procedure, the book covers several topics that remain central to the success and legitimacy of the ECCC's proceedings:

  1. The History and Politics Behind the Khmer Rouge Trials

  2. The Jurisprudence of the Extraordinary Chambers

  3. Court Administration at the ECCC

  4. Including the Survivors in the Tribunal Process

  5. The ECCC’s Role in Reconciliation
The jurisprudence chapter encapsulates much of the complex pre-trial rulings to date concerned with pre-trial detention, forms of detention, double jeopardy, translation duties, the validity of the amnesty law, and fitness to stand trial. The material on victim participation (featured throughout the book) is especially compelling, as the ECCC is well ahead of other tribunals in terms of providing victims with participatory rights. That chapter's authors, IntLawGrrls guest/alumna Sarah Thomas and Terith Chy, have direct experience with victim issues. (Terith heads DC-Cam's Victim Participation Project). The chapter on Court Administration, by Chapman University School of Law Professor John Hall, takes on the corruption allegations that have dogged the tribunal to date. The final chapter situates the ECCC within the larger imperatives of transitional justice in the Cambodian context.
Original photographs, some dating from the Khmer rouge period, grace the book throughout and are reason enough to click on the link below.

The full monograph is available here.

Some further praise for the book:

This invaluable collection of essays, sponsored by the Cambodian NGO that has pioneered research on the Khmer Rouge era, provides a wealth of information about the so-called Khmer Rouge Tribunal. On Trial is accessible, well researched, and passionately engaged with the innumerable tragedies of the Khmer Rouge period. Its authors argue that the ongoing trials may possibly lead toward deeper reconciliation and certainly a deeper knowledge of what happened throughout the country in those horrific years.
–Dr. David P. Chandler, Professor Emeritus of History at Monash University, Australia, and renowned historian of Cambodia

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal is profoundly important to Cambodians and non-Cambodians around the world. It excites passion, arouses controversy, and offers to many victims the hope of justice too long delayed. This timely and essential book provides an excellent overview of the Tribunal, a thoughtful review of its progress to date, and sensible suggestions on how it can best meet its obligations to the Cambodian people and the international community.
–Dr. Sophal Ear, Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and survivor of Democratic Kampuchea

This book of essays will take an important place among the many books and articles written about the recent history of Cambodia and particularly the Khmer Rouge period. It provides a useful historical and intellectual context for the trials currently underway before the ECCC. For observers and academics its most useful sections may prove to be those that analyse the law, jurisprudence and procedures governing the trials and the many issues that this unique Tribunal has overcome and has yet to resolve. DC-Cam has again assisted in the vital task of providing the public with information that helps unravel the tragic puzzle of how to deal with the aftermath of Democratic Kampuchea.
–Judge Silvia Cartwright, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

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