Secrecy and government opposition challenge the ECCC

06 April 2015 by Julia Wallace, Phnom Penh (Cambodia)

Since its inception, the Khmer Rouge tribunal has contended with political pressure, but Cambodia’s changing political landscape is yielding a fierce new crop of opposition.

Political signage of Cambodia’s ruling party, in April 2014, in Siem Reap, Cambodia (Photo: Flickr/shankaronline)
Image caption: 
Political signage of Cambodia’s ruling party, in April 2014, in Siem Reap, Cambodia (Photo: Flickr/shankaronline)

In 2007, Cambodia’s freshly created war crimes tribunal, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), seemed to move like clockwork. Not long after prosecutors issued a document accusing former Khmer Rouge regime leaders of serious international crimes, Cambodian judicial police arrested and detained them.

Although the group included some of the most powerful – those who had commanded substantial followings and surrendered their strongholds as late as in the 1990s – police had no difficulty taking them into custody.

Today it is another story. Another batch of suspects is in the process of being charged, and although they are far less influential than their precursors, police have either been stalling or outright refusing to bring them to court. The difference is that the Cambodian government has for years publicly opposed the proceedings against these new suspects in what are called cases 003 and 004 [IJT-177].

Secrecy shrouds charges

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