DC-CAM: the archives of the future trial

06 February 2006 by Anne-Laure Porée

Just as judges are about to be appointed to the Extraordinary Chambers to try former Khmer Rouge leaders of Cambodia, the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) is preparing to hand over to the prosecutors information it has collected over the past ten years. DC-Cam was first established in 1995 at Yale University in the United States to collect documentation on the Khmer Rouge so as to explain history and establish responsibility for crimes committed. It has been operating in Phnom Penh since 1997 under the leadership of Youk Chhang, a former survivor. Chhang and his center will be playing a crucial role in the preparation of future trials. 

DC-Cam is primarily funded by the United States, which is otherwise not supporting the Khmer Rouge trials following a funding freeze in Congress. According to Sean Visoth, Director of the tribunal's Office of Administration, DC-Cam has "gathered the vast majority of the documents pertaining to Democratic Kampuchea. We need these documents as evidence, but it will be up to the prosecutors to decide how to examine them and which documents can legally be considered as evidence." The documents range from maps of prisons and mass graves to photographs taken at that time. The most famous photographs are those of prisoners at Tuol Sleng, the S-21 detention center where former director Duch is being held in Cambodia and is likely to face charges. Also included are films, testimony from witnesses and former soldiers, an array of reports, notebooks, notes, biographies, confessions, etc. Each piece of the puzzle is carefully catalogued and indexed.

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