What rules for the Cambodian "model"?

20 November 2006 by THIERRY CRUVELLIER and Anne-Laure Porée

On 20 November, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) were to welcome the comments of non-governmental organizations on its draft internal rules. In a move of rare transparency, the tribunal responsible for trying former Khmer Rouge leaders made the document public and open to suggestions. The ECCC are scheduled to adopt the final version of the rules on 25 November. Both in terms of procedure and victims' representation, the new Cambodian "model" is already shaping up to be an unprecedented experience in international criminal justice.

The ECCC have not been completely immune to the democratic breakdown which has affected all of the contemporary international tribunals, where the judges, not without excess, become legislators in their own jurisdiction. Lacking a clear legal framework, especially since the Cambodian government's legal reform project has gathered dust for months, the Cambodian and international judges appointed to the ECCC have, to be sure, been forced to consider that in order to function, their tribunal must have rules of procedure adapted to their jurisdiction. In July they set up a drafting committee and on 3 November, they made their draft rules public, giving Civil Society organizations two weeks to submit comments and suggestions. Without a formal assembly, the initiative demonstrates an interest in transparency, which already sets them apart from their peers in other international jurisdictions. That consultation, tells co-investigating judge Marcel Lemonde, a member of the rules committee "was conceived from day one. It was very important for the process to be carried out transparently. It was a policy choice, and naturally stood out as the solution.

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