Show Less
You do not have access to this content

The Elgar Companion to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Nina H.B. Jørgensen

This Companion is a one-stop reference resource on the Phnom Penh based ‘Khmer Rouge tribunal'. It serves as an introduction to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, while also exploring some of the Court’s practical and jurisprudential challenges and outcomes. Written by Nina Jørgensen, who has worked as senior adviser in the tribunal’s Pre-Trial and Supreme Court Chambers, the Companion offers both direct insights and academic analysis organized around six themes: legality, structure, proceedings, jurisprudence, legitimacy and legacy. This comprehensive Companion will provide a platform for interested sectors of domestic and international society, to assess the value of the Extraordinary Chambers, both during the tribunal’s lifespan and after it has closed its doors.
Show Summary Details
This content is available to you

Chapter 1: Introduction

Nina H.B. Jørgensen


As the story goes, the boundary of Phnom Penh was extended westwards to ensure that the former military complex housing Cambodia’s solution to the problem of impunity for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge era would be considered part of the capital city as required under the Law establishing the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).1 More than a good story, this extension of the city’s limits was formalised in a Royal Decree on the border modification between the Municipality of Phnom Penh and Kandal Province, integrating the villages of Phum Ang, Phum Odem, Phum Angkeo and Phum Prey Svay into Chomchao commune, Dangkor district, Municipality of Phnom Penh.2

The ECCC is not far from the centre of Phnom Penh as the crow flies, being located some kilometres further along National Road 4 from what used to be called Pochentong International Airport, now simply Phnom Penh International Airport. In real terms, navigating overloaded motorbikes and lorries on poor roads, which are often flooded in the rainy season, turns each journey there and back on the buses that ferry staff members to and from work into an adventure of an hour or more. It certainly feels as if the ECCC is out of town. After the bottleneck around a lively market, the traffic eventually eases and the approach to the Court complex is lined by rows of newly built, similarly styled houses. The palatial spirals of the rooftops that to the uninitiated give the ECCC buildings the semblance of a temple eventually come into view. An ornamental moat populated by waterlilies separates the main staff entrance from the marshland beyond. There is no physical indication that the Court buildings belong to the regular Cambodian criminal justice structure. Rather, the ECCC appears as a juridical island.

Back in the city centre, the notorious Toul Sleng or S-21 prison, once a school and now a museum, is an enduring and visible symbol of the horrors of the Khmer Rouge reign. Tourists, groups of students and foreign officials often combine a visit to S-21 with a trip to the nearby ‘killing fields’ of Choeng Ek, a haunting yet peaceful marker of Cambodia’s return to ‘Year Zero’. Attending a hearing at the ECCC can these days be added to the itinerary, where albeit late, and albeit in some respects faltering, the wheels of justice began turning in 2006. At the start of the ECCC’s operations, five of the primary ‘candidates for prosecution’3 were successfully gathered, including Kaing Guek Eav, or ‘Duch’, formerly the head of S-21, and members of the Khmer Rouge party leadership and government allegedly most responsible for the ‘killing fields’, namely Nuon Chea (so-called ‘Brother No. 2’), Ieng Sary (former Foreign Minister), Khieu Samphan (former Head of State) and Ieng Thirith (former Minister of Social Affairs and wife of Ieng Sary). While Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith have since passed away, final convictions have been entered against the remaining three defendants and a second trial against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan is in progress. The judicial investigation against Ao An was concluded in December 2016 while the investigation against Yim Tith remained open. Meas Muth who allegedly held a position of influence within the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea and was commander of the Democratic Kampuchea Navy is also under investigation. The case against Im Chaem, allegedly secretary of Preah Net Preah District in the North-West Zone, was dismissed at the conclusion of the judicial investigation in February 2017.

Now more than ten years old, the ECCC has shown remarkable resilience despite an almost constant bombardment of legal, political and practical obstacles, represented symbolically by nature’s revenge in the form of extensive rains which flooded the Court complex so operations were temporarily stalled in 2016. There is little doubt that time is running out if justice for the victims, perpetrators, Cambodian society and the international community is to be fully achieved.

The purpose of this introductory chapter is to situate the ECCC within the context of relevant developments in Cambodian history in order to explain the Court’s mandate and evolution and to allow a proper assessment of its success. This brief narrative recognises that while Cambodia’s history is well-known, there is no single version of events, and that the ECCC is itself using the lens of justice to construe the history of the Khmer Rouge period. Criminal justice is essentially backward-looking in that it attempts to uncover the truth of past events as circumscribed by the individualised focus of the criminal process. The workings and revelations of a trial permit new interpretations, understandings and truths to be derived and extracted from the testimony, transcripts and judgments. This chapter also gives a nod to the future where the ECCC’s potential legacy will be felt.


2.1    The Angkor Period of Greatness

David Chandler’s A History of Cambodia has been commended for illuminating the culture, politics and history of ‘a country long misunderstood’.4 Apparently Cambodia misunderstood or at least failed to appreciate the significance of its own ancient history of Angkor until it was brought back to life in all its grandeur by the French colonialists.5 Today, the period spanning 802 to 1431 is considered Cambodia’s ‘period of greatness’6 when the country thrived under successive kings. The most revered of these ancient kings is Jayavarman VII who came to power in 1182–83 after defeating the Chams following their 1177 invasion of Cambodia.7 Jayavarman VII broke with the Hindu tradition and instituted the idea of Buddhist kingship which survived until 1970.8 Thanks to the account by Zhou Daguan, a Chinese envoy to Cambodia in 1296–97, something is known of the life and customs during the Angkor period. The king, who embodied a sense of just rule, was the point of reference for disputes between ordinary people and dispensed royal punishments ranging from fines to the amputation of noses, fingers or toes in respect of the most serious offences.9 Adultery, theft and disputes between families came under a separate regime and might involve waiting for a ‘judgment of heaven’ (or, in more pressing cases, sending the disputants into a crocodile pool where the one in the wrong would be eaten), or plunging a suspected thief’s hand into boiling oil with guilt being confirmed by the inevitable scalding.10

Evidence in the form of Buddhist statuary and inscriptions suggests that Angkor Wat—the major temple in the Angkor complex—remained active between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries and was never abandoned.11 Indeed, when the French arrived they found a thriving Buddhist monastery and hundreds of slaves inside the temple.12

2.2    Colonisation and Independence

After the Angkor period, Cambodia’s centre of gravity began to shift towards Phnom Penh and the country became more vulnerable to outside interference, especially from Thailand and Vietnam. By the 1800s Cambodia was in a situation of ‘dual dependency’ on these two powers causing King Duang (who in fact enjoyed relative independence during his reign from 1848 until his death in 1860) to reach out to France for protection against the Vietnamese.13 Cambodia became a French protectorate in 1863 and France steadily consolidated its control, despite a rebellion in 1885 and King Norodom’s attempts to block reform. When Norodom died in 1904 and was succeeded by his brother, Sisowath, colonial rule appeared to settle into a rhythm until discontent over high taxes and the income gap between French officials and Cambodians led to the game-changing murder of a French tax collector.14

Cambodia’s elite became increasingly self-aware during King Monivong’s reign in the 1930s and up to the outbreak of the Second World War. Norodom Sihanouk took the throne in 1941 as Cambodian nationalism surged. By this time, the French had distorted the Cambodian economy, profited from rubber production and ceded Battambang and other provinces to Thailand.15

After the French were pushed aside by the Japanese, Sihanouk declared Cambodia’s independence on 13 March 1945. At the conclusion of the Second World War, however, France re-established colonial control while allowing Cambodians to form political parties. Cambodia’s first Constitution was drawn up in 1947, enumerating certain ‘freedoms, rights and duties’ of Cambodians. In 1952, amid the rise of communism, Sihanouk assumed power as prime minister and pushed harder for independence, finally succeeding in establishing an independent state in 1953.16 Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam achieved full independence with the adoption of the 1954 Geneva Accords which brought the first Indochina war nominally to an end, separating Vietnam into a northern zone under the control of the Việt Minh and a southern zone known as the State of Vietnam. The Việt Minh who had been fighting the French from Cambodia’s eastern areas were required to withdraw in recognition of Cambodia’s neutrality and territorial integrity.17 Sihanouk abdicated the throne in 1955 to participate in elections as an ordinary citizen and monopolised political power right through to 1970 when he was deposed by General Lon Nol.

2.3    The Emergence of the Communist Party of Kampuchea

The Indochina Communist Party, led by Ho Chi Minh, had branches in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and held a Congress in 1951 in which the Cambodian branch was renamed the Khmer People’s Revolutionary Party.18 The Cambodian Communists received no concessions for supporting the Việt Minh in their struggle against the French colonialists and were left out of the Geneva negotiations, which almost resulted in the dissolution of the party in the late 1950s. However, its ‘semi-legal arm’, the Pracheachon, survived Sihanouk’s efforts of repression.19 The Pracheachon became synonymous with ‘the communists’ from the perspective of the Cambodian government, or the ‘Rouges’ as Sihanouk began to call them, ‘to distinguish them from the “Khmers Roses”, the pink liberals in the Democratic Party’.20 The communists never in fact described themselves as the ‘Khmer Rouge’.21

In 1960, a revived communist party operating in secret held its First Party Congress and adopted a Party Statute.22 The new party was named the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). The names of the party leaders only became infamous years later as the CPK strictly followed the mantra: ‘If you preserve secrecy, half the battle is already won.’23

Saloth Sâr, or Pol Pot—a phantom who changed names with the seasons—was appointed Party Secretary at the Second Party Congress held in Phnom Penh in 1963.24 Nuon Chea, another mysterious figure who went by the name of Long Rith when serving as a member of the Issarak movement that fought for independence from the French, was appointed as Pol Pot’s Deputy.25

A 1967 rebellion in Samlaut village in Battambang resulting from land disputes is said to mark the start of the civil war in Cambodia.26 Subsequent unrest in 1968 led to the establishment of the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea.27 The CPK’s Third Party Congress was held in the jungle in 1971, formally ratifying the party’s name and reiterating the strategic lines set out in the Statute.28

The CPK’s political ideology was centred on the creation of a totally self-reliant and sovereign Khmer nation, free from any threat posed by encroaching neighbours. This ideology has been described as ‘a combination of three elements twisted together almost beyond recognition in a creative, organic synthesis: sociocultural values and dispositions from traditional Khmer culture, certain strands of communist revolutionary thought, and traces of radical Parisian Jacobinism’.29 It involved an almost total break with the past while at the same time an obsession with certain intrinsic, historical traditions such as a reliance on rice cultivation.30 The experiment culminated in the destruction of Cambodian society to implement a ‘Utopian vision of social order’.31

2.4    The Overthrow of Sihanouk

Lon Nol served as Prime Minister under Sihanouk in the late 1960s, having at an earlier stage been appointed Defence Minister and Chief of the General Staff. Cambodia’s economy had been faltering under Sihanouk’s incompetent management and in 1970, while Sihanouk was travelling abroad, things came to a head. Lon Nol’s deputy, Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak, was apparently the main architect of the plot to overthrow Sihanouk and persuaded Lon Nol to sign a decree to this effect, which was followed by a vote of no confidence in Sihanouk in the National Assembly and his removal from office on 18 March 1970.32 Sihanouk, who was then in Beijing, reacted by creating a political movement known as the National United Front of Kampuchea (FUNK) and a government in exile, the Royal Government of National Union of Kampuchea (GRUNK), while aligning himself with the CPK. Khieu Samphan played the role of liaison between Sihanouk and Pol Pot.33 Lon Nol abolished the monarchy and the Constitution of the Khmer Republic was declared in 1972.

2.5    The Impact of the Vietnam War

From the mid-1960s, the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces fighting against South Vietnam were stationed at bases in Cambodia causing Cambodia to be subjected to secret United States (US) mine-laying incursions and air raids.34 In the year preceding Lon Nol’s takeover of power, more than 3,600 B-52 raids were conducted over Cambodian territory.35 The North Vietnamese did not support the CPK during this period, preferring the status quo and the support of Sihanouk’s government in the war against the Americans.36   

The US sent ground troops to Cambodia from April to June 1970 after Sihanouk was deposed.37 The Khmer Republic was allied to the US in the Vietnam War which fuelled resentment from the CPK that had evolved from being ‘largely rural, Buddhist, moderate, and pro-Vietnamese’ in the early 1950s to being ‘urban, French-educated, radical and anti-Vietnamese’ by 1970.38 Under Pol Pot’s leadership, the CPK took advantage of the instability created by US intervention and the devastation caused by American-led carpet bombing of the Cambodian countryside to garner support.39 Lon Nol’s weak, corrupt and disorganised government found itself in a battle against both the North Vietnamese forces and the Khmer Rouge.

US bombings intensified following the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the US and Vietnam in January 1973 since the Khmer Rouge refused to agree to a ceasefire with the Lon Nol government.40 The US Congress passed a law blocking funding for the continued bombing of Cambodia on 10 May 1973 and the air raids finally ended on 15 August 1973.41 This was only after a reported 2.7 million tonnes of bombs had been dropped.42

The Khmer Rouge gradually consolidated its power and control of territory, and when the time was seen to be ripe to institute the planned nationwide ‘agrarian dictatorship’,43 there was little standing in its way. Phnom Penh was at this point overwhelmed with refugees. Lon Nol resigned on 1 April 1975 and went into exile.44 Sihanouk rejected an offer from the leadership of the Khmer Republic of a transfer of power to the GRUNK, insisting on a complete surrender.45

2.6    The Khmer Rouge Period

On 17 April 1975, the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh, took control of the Khmer Republic and re-named it Democratic Kampuchea (DK), triggering the darkest period of Cambodia’s history. Children and teenagers were among the Khmer Rouge troops, dressed distinctively in black trousers and shirts, rubber thongs, kramas or caps, and carrying weapons.46 By mid-morning, Phnom Penh had fallen and what at first appeared as a liberation quickly turned into a forceful evacuation of the city.47 So-called ‘new people’, in other words the urban population, were forced into the country-side to labour alongside ‘veteran people’ who had been based in Khmer Rouge zones of control prior to the takeover. These ‘new people’ faced starvation and execution for stealing and other minor ‘offences’ or disobedience.48 Buddhism was suppressed. The total re-organisation of society was accompanied by purges of perceived enemies, involving torture and executions, as well as targeted violence against ethnic minorities such as the Cham Muslims.49

The Constitution of Kampuchea declared the State of Kampuchea to be a democratic State ‘of the people, workers, peasants and all other Kampuchean labourers’ and spoke of a People’s Representative Assembly which would elect judges to the ‘people’s courts’ for the administration of justice. Article 10 of the Constitution stated that ‘dangerous activities in opposition to the people’s State must be condemned to the highest degree’, and that ‘other cases are subject to constructive re-education in the framework of the State’s or people’s organizations’. A section on rights and duties emphasised the right to work and the right to equality. The right to practice a religion was purportedly protected, except that ‘reactionary religions which are detrimental to Democratic Kampuchea and the Kampuchean people are absolutely forbidden’.50

The total re-organisation of Cambodian society was supervised by the Angkar, an organisation that remained secret until September 1977 when Pol Pot announced in a speech delivered at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh that the Angkar was in fact equivalent to the CPK.51 The term Angkar had been widely used by the CPK internally since its establishment but its meaning was unclear, sometimes being code for the top ranks in the party, a synonym for the Standing Committee or Central Committee, a reference to Office 870 in Phnom Penh, shorthand for anyone representing Pol Pot, or an allusion to Pol Pot himself.52 The Central Committee, disturbed by ‘bad elements’ holding themselves out as Angkar, issued a directive in 1977 stating that:

1.  The term “Angkar” or “Party” is used only for the organization. It shall not be used for any individual.

2.  For individual (sic): “comrade”, “this person’s name”, or “comrade in this or that position”, or “comrade representing Angkar at this or that level” shall be used.53

Despite this directive, which may not have been communicated to the public, the Angkar retained its occult status throughout the Khmer Rouge period.

Following his coming out at the Olympic Stadium, Pol Pot embarked on an official visit to China, hoping for China’s support amid growing tension between Cambodia and Vietnam.54 At the end of 1977, Vietnamese troops crossed into Cambodia causing Cambodia to break off diplomatic relations with Vietnam. Vietnam withdrew shortly afterwards although the Khmer Rouge had suffered the most casualties.55 It has been commented that ‘Pol Pot’s purges in 1978 bled Cambodia white’.56 Training camps for Khmer refugees were established by the Vietnamese and one beneficiary was a young Khmer Rouge military commander, Hun Sen, who had defected in mid-1977.57 Border clashes continued throughout 1978, culminating in an invasion by Vietnamese forces on Christmas Day, at which point many Cambodians fled the country or were internally displaced. Phnom Penh was captured by the Vietnamese on 7 January 1979. Sihanouk had been flown out with Chinese assistance the previous day, while the Khmer Rouge leadership abandoned ship and scattered across the country, with many heading towards the Thai border.

Although precise figures are not known, it is estimated that up to a quarter of the population perished during the Khmer Rouge regime and the Vietnamese invasion, amounting to between 1.5 and 2 million excess deaths in this period.58

2.7    The People’s Republic of Kampuchea

The new People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) under Vietnamese occupation was a place of civil unrest with various groups being formed to resist the Vietnamese and strive once again for independence. Vietnam put a nominally Cambodian government in place, headed by Heng Samrin who had once been a Khmer Rouge military commander, like his Foreign Minister, Hun Sen.59 In 1985 Hun Sen took over as Prime Minister. The country was administered by the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party (KPRP), which later became the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). The party originally had a Marxist-Leninist political basis but this changed with Cambodia’s transitional period beginning in 1989.60

In the meantime, the Khmer Rouge re-grouped close to the Thai border, dissolved the CPK and vowed to continue their armed struggle.61

2.8    The People’s Revolutionary Tribunal

The immediate reaction of the PRK was to ‘demonize the “genocidal Pol-Pot-Ieng Sary clique”’.62 Pol Pot and his Foreign Minister during the Khmer Rouge era, Ieng Sary, were tried in absentia, convicted of genocide and sentenced to death in 1979 by the People’s Revolutionary Tribunal (PRT) established by the PRK.63 The two accused were charged as ‘instigators and planners of genocidal crimes’.64 The judgment referred to planning at the highest policy level, finding that: ‘Pol Pot and Ieng Sary have a record of collusion with each other to oppose the Kampuchean revolution; that they jointly mapped out extremely reactionary domestic and foreign policies and organised and directed the implementation of these policies.’65 They were held liable as instigators and planners and therefore found to be responsible for all the consequences of their genocidal acts. This was the only formal judicial process in the immediate aftermath of the Khmer Rouge defeat.66 Vigilante justice was meted out in the 1980s and some of the most feared Khmer Rouge perpetrators were killed.67

2.9    The State of Cambodia

The PRK amended its 1981 Constitution in 1989, changing the country’s name to the State of Cambodia (SOC), just as the last Vietnamese troops finally left Cambodia and the seeds of democratisation began to be sown. 1989 has been described as the ‘year of the democratic revolution’.68 Political and economic reforms in the Soviet Union initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev eliminated the justification for the support by the US and other powers for anti-leftist insurgents in countries such as Cambodia.69 In Eastern Europe communist regimes were removed and on 9 November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. Communism no longer posed a threat and by 1991 the Soviet Union had itself collapsed. The withdrawal of the last Vietnamese troops from Cambodia in September 1989 coincided with a sharp reduction in Soviet aid.70

The 1989 changes to the Cambodian Constitution were directly influenced by the political climate and arguably marked a tentative step towards limiting the power of the State. A further incentive may well have been to encourage the international community to provide aid and assistance to the government in power, which was concerned about its own survival and still highly vulnerable to outside influence and intervention. A ‘diplomatic breakthrough’ for Cambodia was on the cards although the precise form it would take was unknown.71 In anticipation, Cambodia seized an opportune moment to begin demonstrating a commitment to human rights.

Article 35 of the revised Constitution emphasised the basic human rights that had been denied to citizens by successive regimes, most systematically by the Khmer Rouge:

The State shall ensure the physical inviolability of the individual.

The law shall protect the honour, dignity and life of citizens.

No prosecution, arrest, detention or imprisonment shall be permitted unless authorized by law.

Coercion, physical torture or any other punitive act compounding the penalty inflicted on detainees or prisoners are prohibited. Perpetrators, collaborators and accomplices in such acts shall be punished by law.

Confessions extracted by physical or mental coercion shall not be regarded as proof of guilt.

If the accusation is based solely on suspicion, the defendant should be acquitted.

The defendant shall be regarded as innocent until decided otherwise by the court.

The State guarantees to all citizens the right to defend themselves in a court of law.

Capital punishment is abolished.

The protection of the right to life became tangible through the abolition of capital punishment. The desire to break with an oppressive past has been emphasised by the death penalty expert, Roger Hood, as a primary reason for abolition in Cambodia. Hood writes that ‘At the end of its civil war and terrible holocaust Cambodia decided to abolish the death penalty completely so as to mark with a powerful symbol the end of the Pol Pot regime’.72 Similarly, David Johnson and Franklin Zimring note in their comparative study of the death penalty in Asia that the death penalty was abolished in Cambodia ‘as part of the process of distancing a new government from the brutality of Pol Pot’s regime’.73 Amnesty International noted that the abolition of the death penalty ‘was a major step demonstrating the government’s intention to protect the right to life, grossly violated along with almost all other fundamental human rights by the previous Government of Democratic Kampuchea during its time in power’.74 Chandler states that ‘the death penalty was abolished in response to criticism of Cambodia’s human rights record’.75 Abolition of the death penalty formed part of a series of popular reforms including the reintroduction of Buddhism as the state religion, revision of the national anthem and changes to the flag, and new laws relating to the acquisition and transfer of land.76

2.10    The Paris Negotiations and Agreement

The realignment of international politics spurred the reconstitution of Cambodia. The West had supported the Khmer Rouge while the Vietnam-backed regime was in power, fearing that the Vietnamese, supported by the Soviets, had expansionist aims. When the Cold War ended, the United Nations (UN) made a special effort to reconstruct Cambodia. Thus: ‘In an unprecedented manner, the UN “took over” responsibility for the country, arranged elections and took the lead in drawing up the new constitution.’77

In the latter half of 1989, negotiations took place in Paris, with the participation of the four contending Cambodian parties, representatives of 18 countries including the five permanent members of the Security Council, and the UN Secretary-General. The negotiations were aimed at achieving a settlement and guaranteeing self-determination for the people of Cambodia. A settlement was reached on 28 August 1990 resulting in a framework document. The Supreme National Council (SNC) became the ‘unique legitimate body and source of authority in which, throughout the transitional period, the independence, national sovereignty and unity of Cambodia is embodied’.78

The following year the Paris Conference reconvened to agree on the UN’s role in preparing Cambodia for democratic elections. An Agreement on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict (Paris Agreement) was concluded on 23 October 1991.79 The Paris Agreement contained a number of provisions concerning human rights. According to Article 15(1), all Cambodians shall enjoy the rights and freedoms embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant international human rights instruments. Under Article 15(2)(a), Cambodia undertook to take measures to ensure that the policies and practices of the past should never be allowed to return and to adhere to relevant human rights instruments. Under Article 15(2)(b), other signatories equally agreed to promote respect for human rights in Cambodia. The UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was to provide human rights education, oversight and investigation, while the UN Commission on Human Rights would continue to follow Cambodia’s human rights situation after the transitional period through the appointment of a special rapporteur, if necessary.

The question of accountability did not appear to be a focus of the Paris negotiations. The Cambodian government proposed that the new Constitution should expressly be consistent with the 1948 Genocide Convention, but while Indonesia and France were in favour, the proposal did not meet with widespread approval.80 The idea of legal action in respect of the Khmer Rouge atrocities had been floated prior to the settlement. One suggestion was to bring a case against Cambodia before the International Court of Justice with the aim of pressurising Cambodia to comply with its obligations to conduct prosecutions, in particular under the Genocide Convention.81 However, during the negotiations, responsibility for prosecuting offenders was placed upon the future government of Cambodia, falling outside UNTAC’s mandate.82

The SNC took immediate steps in accordance with the Paris Agreement and acceded to five major human rights treaties in 1992: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for human rights in Cambodia were appointed from 1993 to 2008 when the role changed its name to Special Rapporteur. The mandate of the six individuals to date who have served as Special Representatives or Rapporteurs derives from the agreements made at Paris and is to monitor, independently, the human rights situation in the country.83

The UN Advance Mission for Cambodia (UNAMIC) was succeeded by UNTAC which arrived in Cambodia on 16 March 1992. The UNTAC Law was adopted by the SNC on 10 September 1992, setting out provisions relating to the judiciary, as well as criminal law and procedure applicable in Cambodia during the transitional period.84 Article 67 of the UNTAC Law reinforced the earlier commitment to abolish the death penalty.

2.11    Cambodia’s Seat at the United Nations

A coalition government in exile including the ousted Khmer Rouge and supporters of Sihanouk and his former Prime Minister, Son Sann, continued to represent Cambodia at the UN until the conclusion of the Paris negotiations.85 Most states refused to recognise the Vietnam-backed government of Prime Minister Hun Sen as legitimate, arguing that the forceful intervention by Vietnam to defeat the Khmer Rouge had been illegal. This meant that Khieu Samphan, then the coalition Vice President and Foreign Minister, appointed a Khmer Rouge supporter named Thiounn Prasith as Cambodia’s UN representative while Sihanouk named his deputy.86

In 1990, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution promising that the SNC would ‘represent Cambodia externally and occupy the seat of Cambodia at the United Nations’.87 However, Cambodia’s UN seat was reported to be ‘temporarily unattended’ pending determination of the composition of the SNC.88 The General Assembly’s promise was finally fulfilled after the Khmer Rouge’s attempt to sabotage democratic elections in 1993.89

2.12    The 1993 Constitution

Funcinpec, the royalist party founded by Sihanouk in the early 1980s, received a majority of the vote in the May 1993 elections. A coalition government was formed with Sihanouk’s son, Norodom Ranariddh, as First Prime Minister, and Hun Sen of the CPP as Co-Prime Minister.90 The monarchy was restored and Sihanouk, who had returned to Phnom Penh in 1991 after the signing of the Paris Agreement, was reinstated as King.

Annex 5 to the Paris agreements entitled ‘Principles for a new constitution for Cambodia’ emphasised that ‘Cambodia’s tragic recent history requires special measures to assure protection of human rights’ and set out the fundamental rights, including the right to life, that must be included in the Constitution. According to the six basic principles contained in Annex 5, the Constitution (i) would be the supreme law of the land; (ii) would contain a declaration of fundamental human rights; (iii) would declare Cambodia’s status as a sovereign, independent and neutral country; (iv) would state that Cambodia would follow a system of ‘liberal’ democracy, on the basis of pluralism, providing for periodic elections governed by universal suffrage, full participation and secret balloting; (v) would establish an independent judiciary; and (vi) would be adopted by two-thirds of the constituent assembly. It has been suggested that these constitutional principles transcended existing international human rights instruments by going ‘beyond recognizing free elections as the sole process for choosing a government after internal strife, and beyond committing the elected regime to guaranteeing the human rights of its people, by identifying the path – labelled “liberal democracy on the basis of pluralism” – it is to follow’.91 The use of this language was apparently proposed by Sihanouk.92

The parties represented in the Constituent Assembly drafted a new Constitution which was promulgated on 24 September 1993, establishing a multiparty ‘liberal’ democracy under a constitutional monarchy. The use of the adjective ‘liberal’ in this context ‘classically implies a concern with individual freedoms that centres on the need to limit the power and authority of the government’.93 A core concept of liberal democracy in Cambodia was that of the ‘people’s will’.94 As Jack Donnelly states, ‘the human rights work of most contemporary “democracies” is rooted in substantive adjectives such as “liberal”’.95

It has been noted that Sihanouk most likely used the term ‘liberal democracy’ in the context of the negotiations because it was what the American and other key participants wanted to hear and it did not reflect the government’s principles when he was king or prime minister in the 1950s.96 Indeed, perhaps in part because of the scale of the human rights violations experienced by Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, a ‘human-rights-based concept of sovereignty’97 was endorsed as a way forward even by states such as China and Vietnam which had not themselves embraced democratic principles. This points to an element of hypocrisy in the path chosen for Cambodia since Cambodia’s immediate neighbours were perhaps unlikely to sustain the drive towards genuine respect for human rights.98 Indeed, the UN-sponsored transition placed Cambodia steps ahead on paper even if there was much human rights work still to be done in practice.

The formal transitional period came to an end when the Constituent Assembly became the National Assembly of Cambodia, effectively the new parliament, in accordance with articles 1 and 12 of the Paris Agreement. The country’s official name changed to the Kingdom of Cambodia. Article 43 of the 1993 Constitution provides that Buddhism shall be the State religion in Cambodia, making Cambodia one of the world’s only predominantly Buddhist States.99

2.13    The 1994 Law to Outlaw the Democratic Kampuchea Group

In the 1990s, amnesties became an important tool to reward and reintegrate defecting Khmer Rouge fighters. A Law to Outlaw the Democratic Kampuchea Group was introduced in 1994 as a reaction to the DK group’s failure to abide by the terms of the Paris Agreement, in particular by ‘violating the articles which called for respect of a ceasefire, the permission to officials and staff of the UN to enter the zones it controlled, for assembly to cantonment, disarmament and demobilization of armed forces, and for respect for the human rights of the Cambodian population.’100 In addition to violating the Cambodian Constitution, according to the Law the DK group had:

continually committed criminal, terrorist and genocidal acts which has been a characteristic of the group since it captured power in April 1975 – forcible movement, abduction, killing and subsequently also robbery and banditry, laying mines indiscriminately throughout the plains and forests, destroying public and private property, leading the killing of civilians, forcibly taking and illegally occupying national territory, and selling natural resources by violating the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The DK group and its armed forces were declared ‘outlaws’ and property obtained illegally was ordered to be confiscated. DK members who were not leaders could secure an amnesty by returning to live under the control of the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia. The key provisions of the Law addressing the relevant crimes and conditions for the granting of an amnesty were as follows:

Article 3: Members of the political organization or the military forces of the ‘Democratic Kampuchea’ group or any persons who commit crimes of murder, rape, robbery of people’s property, the destruction of public and private property, etc. shall be sentenced according to existing criminal law.

Article 4: Members of the political organization or the military forces of the ‘Democratic Kampuchea’ group or any persons who commit

•   secession,

•   destruction against the Royal Government,

•   destruction against organs of public authority, or

•   incitement or forcing the taking up of arms against public authority

shall be charged as criminals against the internal security of the country and sentenced to jail for 20 to 30 years or for life.

Article 5: This Law shall grant a stay of six months after coming into effect to permit people who are members of the political organization of military forces of the ‘Democratic Kampuchea’ group to return to live under the control of the Royal Government in the Kingdom of Cambodia without facing punishment for crimes which they have committed.

As it concerned the Khmer Rouge leadership, Ieng Sary defected in 1996 and was granted by a Royal Decree a pardon in respect of the death sentence imposed by the PRT and an amnesty from prosecution under the 1994 Law.101 King Norodom Sihanouk’s revocation of Ieng Sary’s death sentence was at the request of the then Co-Prime Ministers Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Ranariddh.102 It was Ieng Sary’s reward for ensuring the mass defection of Khmer Rouge cadres in two strategic locations which had apparently speeded up the group’s final demise.103 Hun Sen announced that this was the price that had to be paid for the sake of the nation.104 Ensuring the dissolution of the Khmer Rouge and the reintegration of defectors was at that stage considered to trump punishment as the best way of transitioning to a viable political future. The Royal Decree took into account the Cambodian Constitution but the decision to revoke the application of the death penalty against Ieng Sary was not based on the unconstitutionality of the sentence but rather on political considerations.105 Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, lived in their villa in Phnom Penh until their arrest and transfer to the ECCC in 2007.

2.14    Documentation and Preservation of Evidence

At a session of the Commission on Human Rights held on 7 March 1979, the Chairman of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Mr. Bouhdiba, presented an analysis of documents that had been received from governments and non-governmental organisations (NGO) on the human rights situation in Democratic Kampuchea. According to a summary of Mr. Bouhdiba’s presentation:

In his analysis, he was not putting an ideology on trial or criticizing a political regime as such. Contrary to normal practice, he had not submitted any conclusions or suggestions, the reason being that the changing situation in Kampuchea made it impossible to propose a constructive solution that would satisfy the expectations of national and international public opinion. However, the events described in the documents were extremely serious – the most serious that had occurred anywhere in the world since Nazism. Of course, there was no proof that they had occurred, since there had been no investigation by the United Nations, but the various accounts were consistent down to the last detail. Even if the events now belonged only to history, it was neither possible nor prudent to pass over them in silence or simply to lay the matter aside.

   The first step should be to expose the facts.106

Efforts to document crimes and preserve evidence continued during the ‘lost’ decades when political instability allowed for impunity. Notably in 1994 the US Congress passed the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act marking a shift in US policy from active and later passive support for the Khmer Rouge to active support for efforts to bring former Khmer Rouge members to justice for crimes against humanity committed between 17 April 1975 and 7 January 1979. According to the Act, the US President was urged:

1.  to collect, or assist appropriate organizations and individuals to collect relevant data on crimes of genocide committed in Cambodia;

2.  in circumstances which the President deems appropriate, to encourage the establishment of a national or international criminal tribunal for the prosecution of those accused of genocide in Cambodia; and

3.  as necessary, to provide such national or international tribunal with information collected pursuant to paragraph (1).107

State Department lawyers considered the apprehension of the Khmer Rouge leadership to be the priority leading to a chicken or egg scenario in terms of whether arrests or a tribunal should come first.108 In the meantime, the US provided funding for Yale University’s Cambodia Genocide Program which resulted in the establishment of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) in 1995. DC-Cam became an independent NGO in 1997 and continues to operate from its base in Phnom Penh, serving as a vital support to the ECCC through its archives, research and other activities.109

2.15    The ECCC Negotiations

Hun Sen and Norodom Ranariddh first appealed to the UN for international assistance in conducting a trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders in June 1997, shortly before the coalition government fell apart and fighting broke out in Phnom Penh. In November 1997, once political stability had been regained, the government sent a renewed request to the US asking for the establishment of an international criminal tribunal to bring the Khmer Rouge leadership to trial ‘while they are still alive’.110

A resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in February 1998 did not give Cambodia a glowing report on the implementation of human rights norms. The resolution expressed the desire that the ‘United Nations respond positively to assist efforts to investigate Cambodia’s tragic history, including responsibility for past international crimes, such as acts of genocide and crimes against humanity’, noted with concern that no Khmer Rouge leader had been brought to account, and expressed grave concern about numerous instances of violations of human rights.111 While much had been accomplished at least on paper during the Paris negotiations, the problem of impunity continued to loom large.

In a pre-emptive blow to justice, Pol Pot, who was believed to have been captured during internal Khmer Rouge fighting in 1997, died in April 1998.112 US efforts to obtain a Security Council resolution establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for Cambodia failed. However, the UN Secretary-General appointed a group of experts to evaluate the existing evidence and ‘propose further measures as a means of bringing about national reconciliation, strengthening democracy and addressing the issue of individual accountability’.113

On 25 December 1998, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea surrendered and their armed forces were reintegrated. Their defection was accepted by Hun Sen who famously announced that it was time to ‘dig a hole and bury the past’.114 Nuon Chea was permitted to live near the Thai border.

On 6 March 1999, Ta Mok, a highly feared member of the Democratic Kampuchea Standing Committee, was arrested by the Cambodian authorities and taken to Phnom Penh with a view to a trial before Cambodian domestic courts.

On 15 March 1999, the Report of the Group of Experts recommending the establishment of an international tribunal by the Security Council was presented to both the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.115 The Cambodian government, which by then favoured a more domestic-oriented approach, was unenthusiastic about the proposal. On 9 May 1999, Duch was arrested and detained on charges under the 1994 Law to Outlaw the Democratic Kampuchea Group. By this point trials were on the agenda and King Sihanouk refused to grant further amnesties in view of the discontent of the majority of the Cambodian people.116

After renewed calls from Cambodia for domestic trials with international assistance, a local ‘Task Force for Cooperation with Foreign Legal Experts and Preparation of the Proceedings for the Trial of Senior Khmer Rouge Leaders’ was set up to negotiate with the UN. The Task Force produced a draft law which was presented to the UN but failed to meet with approval. The General Assembly adopted a new resolution appealing to the Cambodian Government ‘to ensure that those most responsible for the most serious violations of human rights are brought to account in accordance with international standards of justice, fairness and due process of law’ and urging continued cooperation.117

In response to foreign pressure, especially by Australia, France and Britain, trials were conducted under domestic criminal law against Khmer Rouge General Nun Paet (in 1999) and Colonel Chhouk Rin and General Sam Bith (in 2002) for an attack in July 1994 on a train in Kampot involving the deaths of 13 Cambodians and a French, Australian and British backpacker. All three accused were sentenced to life imprisonment. Chhouk Rin’s trial was held in absentia.118

On 10 August 2001, King Norodom Sihanouk signed the Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea and it was promulgated, a feat which was welcomed by the UN General Assembly.119 The point of no return appeared to have been reached. Yet on 8 February 2002, the UN announced its withdrawal from negotiations on the basis that the proposed Extraordinary Chambers could not guarantee international standards of justice. The UN required a clear mandate from the General Assembly or Security Council in order for talks to be re-initiated.120

A core group of governments, including the US, Canada, Japan, France, Australia and the United Kingdom, called for a resumption of efforts to establish an accountability mechanism for Cambodia.121 The General Assembly, ‘conscious that the opportunity to bring those responsible to justice may soon be lost’, passed a resolution welcoming the promulgation of the Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and requesting that negotiations proceed.122 An Agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia Concerning the Prosecution under Cambodian Law of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea (ECCC Agreement) was eventually signed on 6 June 2003.123 The United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trial (UNAKRT) was born. The four cornerstones of the project were: Due Process, International Standards for Court Operations, Security and Safety, and Efficiency and Effectiveness. The draft Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia was subsequently amended on 6 August 2004 and approved, and the ECCC Agreement came into force.

2.16    The Establishment of the ECCC

The ECCC was formally established in early 2006 and hosted on the premises of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces High Command Headquarters in Phnom Penh. Construction work commenced to turn a disused military theatre into a state of the art courtroom while temporary facilities were set up for the initial pre-trial hearings. The ECCC Pre-Trial Chamber has noted that: ‘The ECCC only existed in any form after the swearing-in of the judges of the ECCC, which took place on 3 July 2006. The ECCC did not exist as an organ before this date.’124 Ta Mok died the same month the ECCC formally came into existence. Other possible suspects, such as Son Sen125 and Kae Pok,126 had also passed away. The ECCC became fully operational in June 2007 after the adoption of the rules governing its internal procedures by the newly appointed judges.


Reflecting on his involvement in the ECCC negotiations, David Scheffer, who served as US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues at the time and worked tirelessly to sustain US interest has commented that: ‘International justice is the art of the possible, and nowhere was that demonstrated more profoundly than in Cambodia.’127 Just as colonialism revived pride in the long-forgotten Angkor period and an associated hunger for autonomy, the ECCC negotiations revived both international and domestic shame over the Khmer Rouge period and an associated hunger for justice. When the French declared a protectorate in 1863, Cambodia’s population was estimated at less than one million. By the time of independence, it had risen to over four million.128 This was reduced by at least a quarter during the Khmer Rouge period. Cambodia’s population is now edging close to 16 million. The majority of this population has no direct memory of the late 1970s. This is worth bearing in mind when assessing the legitimacy and legacy of a criminal justice process focused on events that are sliding behind living memory. For today’s younger generation of Cambodia, life navigates the historical landmarks of S-21 and Choeng Ek and moves at a fast pace into the future, metaphorically (if not by moped) overtaking the slow bus to the ECCC.

What this future holds remains to be seen. Phnom Penh has developed at a rapid pace in the past decade, readying itself to claim a place as a modern Asian city. The Cambodia Daily reported in 2015 on plans to further enlarge Phnom Penh by incorporating areas located across the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers from the Royal Palace for development purposes.129 Cambodia became a party to the Statute of the International Criminal Court in 2002, exposing itself to the possibility of a future case of crimes against humanity attributed to the ruling elite based on the unlawful dispossession of land.130

Cambodia’s complex process of democratisation has been described as ‘an exercise in political self-determination through a U.N. managed transition to a democratic form of government based on a constitution that both acknowledges Cambodian tradition and current political forces, and establishes a bill of rights and mechanisms for protecting those rights.’131 It is worth being reminded of the Preamble to the 1993 Constitution which is still in force, subject to amendments:132

We, the Khmer people,

Accustomed to having a grand civilization, a prosperous nation, a very large territory, a prestige glittering like a diamond;

Having fallen into a terrifying decay for the two last decades, when we have been undergoing unspeakable, demeaning sufferings and disasters of the most regrettable way;

In a burst of consciousness, rising up with a resolute determination in order to unite, to strengthen the national unity, to defend the Cambodian territory, to preserve the precious sovereignty and the marvellous civilization of ANGKOR, to re-build the country and become once again an ‘Oasis of Peace’ based on the system of a liberal multi-party democracy, to guarantee human rights, to ensure the respect of law, to be highly responsible for the destiny of the nation forever evolving toward progress, development and prosperity.

Events since the turn of the century have led local human rights activists to describe Cambodia as being in a freefall from democracy.133 Protestors took to the streets in 2013 to contest the CPP’s victory over the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which had made significant gains, arguing that there had been voting irregularities.134 The promised reforms of the national election commission were slow to materialise and fresh protests in 2014 led to arrests of opposition party and social activists. These developments caused the Asia director of Human Rights Watch to claim that: ‘The government’s actions in the face of peaceful protest are that of a dictatorship, not a democracy.’135 In what the international press termed the ‘final blow to democracy’, legislation was passed in 2017 making it more difficult for opposition parties to function.136 In anticipation of the new law, and in light of his prior convictions for defamation, the self-exiled leader of the CNRP, Sam Rainsy, resigned to prevent the dissolution of his party. In the same period, garment workers staged repeated protests for higher wages and better conditions and faced violent crackdowns.137 The 2016 shooting in broad daylight of the popular political commentator, Kem Ley, further mobilised the population especially through social media, and while a man improbably named Chuob Somlab or ‘Meet Kill’ was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, the trial left questions unanswered.138 Shortly afterwards a further conviction for ‘public defamation and incitement causing turmoil in society’ was added to Sam Rainsy’s criminal record on the basis that he had claimed the government orchestrated Kem Ley’s killing.139 In an interview for the Carnegie Council in 2017, the Cambodian human rights lawyer, Sohporn Sek, who had represented indigenous communities in cases concerning land and natural resources, stated (without ‘criticizing the prime minister or any persons’) that from his observations in Cambodia, ‘democracy is just a term’ and at a ‘crossroads’. He also observed that most of the State mechanisms, such as the military and judiciary, are controlled by the ruling party and therefore lack independence which is ‘dangerous to democracy’ and ‘not easy to change’.140

What is significant, perhaps, is that civil activism has become more of a feature of Cambodian society and an emboldened youth, born after Cambodia’s conflicts, are demanding progress. For them the risk that political change might signal a return to war as suggested by Hun Sen may seem remote. More pressing issues include land concessions granted to Chinese and Vietnamese companies, poverty and the growing wealth disparity, and corruption.141 In 2017, Hun Sen ordered a ban on the export of breast milk to a US-based company, stating that: ‘We are not so poor that we have to sell human breast milk.’142 The mothers who earn too little as garment workers to support their families or who lose their jobs when they become pregnant may beg to differ. Nonetheless, an inquiry by the Cambodian Health Ministry into whether the business violated a law on trafficking in human organs suggested that the matter was not being viewed simply as one of national pride. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, the UN Special Rapporteur on Cambodia, Rhona Smith, observed that it was time for Cambodia to fully implement all the rights and freedoms in the various human rights treaties that it had adopted.143 When the attention of historians turns from the three years and eight months Pol Pot era to the 32 years and counting Hun Sen era there will be a long tale to tell. The next elections are in 2018. Cambodia tomorrow will hopefully be a place where democracy and human rights are mainstreamed as matters of national pride as so eloquently expressed in the Constitution.

1   Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers, with inclusion of Amendments, NS/RKM/1004/006, 27 October 2004, Article 43 new: ‘The Extraordinary Chambers established in the trial court and the Supreme Court Chamber shall be located in Phnom Penh’ (‘ECCC Law’); ‘The address of the ECCC changed’, ECCC, 29 July 2006, <> [accessed 3 June 2017]: ‘The address of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia changed following the issuance of a Preah Reach Kret (Royal Decree) on extending the boundary of the Municipality of Phnom Penh’.

2   Preah Reach Kret (Royal Decree) on Border Modification between Municipality of Phnom Penh and Kandal Province, NS/RKT/0706/329, 29 July 2006.

3   See S. Heder and B. Tittemore, Seven Candidates for Prosecution: Accountability for Crimes of the Khmer Rouge (War Crimes Research Office and Coalition for International Justice, June 2001) <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

4   D. Chandler, A History of Cambodia (4th edn, Chiangmai, Silkworm Books, 2008), back cover blurb.

5   Ibid, p. 2.

6   Ibid, p. 35.

7   Ibid, pp. 69–70.

8   Ibid, pp. 67–8.

9   Z. Daguan, A Record of Cambodia, The Land and its People (translated with an introduction and notes by P. Harris, Chiangmai, Silkworm Books, 2007), pp. 21, 64–5.

10 Ibid.

11 Chandler, above n. 4, p. 35.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid, pp. 164–5.

14 Ibid, pp. 191–4.

15 C. Etcheson, The Rise and Demise of Democratic Kampuchea (Boulder, Colorado, Westview Press, 1984), p. 8.

16 Chandler, above n. 4, p. 225.

17 W. Shawcross, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia (Revised edn, New York, Cooper Square Press, 2002), p. 48.

18 Prosecutor v Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, ECCC Case File No. 002/19-09-2007/ECCC/TC, Trial Chamber, Case 002/01 Judgement, 7 August 2014, para. 80 (According to the findings of the ECCC Trial Chamber, this Congress was attended by Nuon Chea. The Trial Chamber relied upon Nuon Chea’s testimony and certain documents, including the transcript of a 1998 interview given by Nuon Chea to Khem Ngun, a former assistant to Ta Mok, in establishing the history of the CPK) (‘Nuon Trial Judgment’).

19 P. Short, Pol Pot: The History of a Nightmare (London, John Murray Publishers, 2004), p. 114.

20 Ibid, p. 115.

21 Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 85.

22 Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 86.

23 Short, above n. 19, p. 5.

24 Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 89.

25 Short, above n. 19, p. 5.

26 Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 91.

27 Ibid, para. 93.

28 Ibid, para. 95.

29 Etcheson, above n. 15, p. 28.

30 Ibid, p. 29.

31 Ibid, p. 36.

32 Chandler, above n. 4, pp. 249–50; Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 97.

33 Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 98.

34 B. Kiernan, The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79 (3rd edn, New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University Press, 2008), p. 18.

35 Ibid.

36 Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 94.

37 Ibid, para. 154.

38 Kiernan, above n. 34, p. 14.

39 Ibid, p. 16 (Stating that the carpet bombing of Cambodia’s countryside was ‘probably the most important single factor in Pol Pot’s rise’). See also Shawcross, above n. 17, pp. 248–51.

40 Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 155.

41 Ibid, para. 156.

42 Kiernan, above n. 34, p. 19.

43 See L. Phalla, ‘Duch’s Confession and Apology’, Phnom Penh Post,31 March 2009, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

44 Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 164.

45 Ibid, para. 165.

46 Ibid, para. 460.

47 Ibid, para. 464.

48 See S. Heder, ‘Reassessing the Role of Senior Leaders and Local Officials in Democratic Kampuchea Crimes: Cambodian Accountability in Comparative Perspective’, in J. Ramji and B. van Schaack (eds), Bringing the Khmer Rouge to Justice: Prosecuting Mass Violence before the Cambodian Courts (Lewiston, New York, Edwin Mellon Press, 2005), pp. 377–423, p. 393.

49 S.R. Ratner, J.S. Abrams and J.L Bischoff, Accountability for Human Rights Atrocities in International Law (3rd edn, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 306–14.

50 ‘The Constitution of Democratic Kampuchea’, in Etcheson, above n. 15, pp. 221–7.

51 Short, above n. 19, p. 375.

52 Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 221 (relying on evidence given by Duch and other witnesses); Prosecutor v Kaing Guek Eav alias ‘Duch’, ECCC Case File No. 001/18-07-2007/ECCC/TC, Trial Chamber, Judgment,26 July 2010, para. 85 (‘Duch Trial Judgment’). See also Shawcross, above n. 17, pp. 377–8.

53 Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 221.

54 Chandler, above n. 4, pp. 271–2.

55 Short, above n. 19, p. 378.

56 Ibid, p. 387.

57 Ibid, p. 379.

58 See e.g. T. Fawthrop and H. Jarvis, Getting Away with Genocide? Elusive Justice and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (London, Pluto Press, 2004), pp. 3–4;C. Etcheson, ‘The Politics of Genocide Justice in Cambodia’, in C.P.R. Romano, A. Nollkaemper and J.K. Kleffner (eds), Internationalized Criminal Courts and Tribunal: Sierra Leone, East Timor, Kosovo and Cambodia (Oxford/New York, Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 181–205, p. 181; Heder and Tittemore, above n. 3, p. 3: ‘As many as two million people – nearly one-third of the Cambodian population – are believed to have perished at the hands of the CPK when it ruled Cambodia, then called Democratic Kampuchea (DK), from April 1975 to January 1979’ <> [accessed 3 June 2017]; Nuon Trial Judgment, above n. 18, para. 174.

59 Short, above n. 19, p. 409.

60 Etcheson, above n. 15, p. 183.

61 Short, above n. 19, pp. 416–17.

62 Chandler, above n. 4, p. 280.

63 ‘Decree Law No.1, Preamble’, in H.J. de Nike, J. Quigley and K.J. Robinson (eds), Genocide in Cambodia: Documents from the Trial of Pol Pot and Ieng Sary (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), p. 45 (The trial was held at the Chaktomuk Theatre in Phnom Penh from 15–19 August 1979). See further Fawthrop and Jarvis, above n. 58, Chapter 3.

64 ‘Indictment’, in H.J. de Nike, J. Quigley and K.J. Robinson (eds), Genocide in Cambodia: Documents from the Trial of Pol Pot and Ieng Sary (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), p. 487.

65 ‘Judgment’, in H.J. de Nike, J. Quigley and K.J. Robinson (eds), Genocide in Cambodia: Documents from the Trial of Pol Pot and Ieng Sary (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), p. 548.

66 For an analysis of the process, see T.H. Gutman, ‘Cambodia, 1979: Trying Khmer Rouge Leaders for Genocide’, in K. Sellars (ed), Trials for International Crimes in Asia (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 167–90.

67 Y. Chhang, ‘Anthem Essay: Why the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Matters to the Cambodian Community: Justice for the Future, Not the Victims’, Searching for the Truth, Documentation Center of Cambodia.

68 B. Holden, Understanding Liberal Democracy (2nd edn, New York, Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993), p. 202.

69 R.J. McMahon, The Cold War, A Very Short Introduction (Oxford/New York, Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 150.

70 Chandler, above n. 4, p. 285.

71 Ibid, p. 286.

72 R. Hood, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective (3rd edn, Oxford/New York, Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 43.

73 D.T. Johnson and F.E. Zimring, The Next Frontier, National Development, Political Change and the Death Penalty in Asia (Oxford/New York, Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 381 (The authors note (p. 381, footnote 1, citing Short, above n. 19, p. 11) that under Pol Pot, ‘Individual rights were not curtailed in favour of the collective, but extinguished altogether’).

74 Amnesty International, Cambodia: Recent Human Rights Developments, ASA 23/007/1990, December 1990, p. 3, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

75 Chandler, above n. 4, p. 285.

76 Ibid.

77 J. Őjendal and M. Lilja, ‘Beyond Democracy in Cambodia, Political Reconstruction in a Post-Conflict Society?’, in J. Őjendal and M. Lilja (eds), Beyond Democracy in Cambodia, Political Reconstruction in a Post-Conflict Society (Copenhagen, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press, 2009), pp. 1–30, p. 2.

78 United Nations General Assembly, The Situation in Cambodia, A/RES/45/3, 15 October 1990, para. 4, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

79 The Paris Agreements of 23 October 1991 include (1) Final Act of the Paris Conference on Cambodia; (2) Agreement on a comprehensive political settlement of the Cambodia conflict (with annexes) (hereinafter ‘Paris Agreement’); (3) Agreement concerning the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and inviolability, neutrality and national unity of Cambodia; and(4) Declaration on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Cambodia. See United Nations. Treaty Series, vol. 1663, 27, 23 October 1991, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

80 B. Kiernan and C. Hughes, Conflict and Change in Cambodia (London/New York, Routledge, 2007), p. xiv.

81 Ratner, Abrams and Bischoff, above n. 49, p. 358.

82 S.R. Ratner, ‘The Cambodia Settlement Agreements’, American Journal of International Law, vol. 87, 1993, pp. 1–41, p. 26.

83 Agreement on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict, 23 October 1991, Article 17; Agreement Concerning the Sovereignty, Independence, Territorial Integrity and Inviolability, Neutrality and National Unity of Cambodia, 23 October 1991, Article 3. For information on the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, see ‘Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia’, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

84 For the text of the UNTAC Law, see Guide to Cambodian Criminal Law (prepared by the Ministry of Justice, 2005), p. 45.

85 See further Fawthrop and Jarvis, above n. 58, pp. 24–39.

86 P. Lewis, ‘Why Cambodia’s UN Seat is “Unattended”’, The New York Times, 16 December 1990, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

87 United Nations General Assembly, The Situation in Cambodia, A/RES/45/3, 15 October 1990, para. 5, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

88 Lewis, above n. 86.

89 L. Reydams, J. Wouters, and C. Ryngaert, ‘The Politics of Establishing International Criminal Tribunals’, in L. Reydams, J. Wouters, and C. Ryngaert (eds), International Prosecutors (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012),pp. 6–80, p. 47.

90 Ranariddh was ousted in a 1997 coup but the subsequent elections in 1998 resulted in another coalition between the CPP and Funcinpec, with the CPP exerting greater influence.

91 Ratner, above n. 82, p. 27.

92 Ibid, p. 27, footnote 163.

93 Holden, above n. 68, p. 16.

94 C. Hughes, ‘International Intervention and the People’s Will’, inB. Kiernan and C. Hughes (eds), Conflict and Change in Cambodia (London/New York, Routledge, 2007), pp. 45–68, p. 46.

95 J. Donnelly, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice (2nd edn, Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 2003), p. 191.

96 S.P. Marks, ‘The New Cambodian Constitution: From Civil War to a Fragile Democracy’, Columbia Human Rights Law Review, vol. 26, no. 1, 1994, pp. 45–110, p. 57.

97 Ratner, above n. 82, p. 40.

98 Ibid, p. 40 (notes that endorsement of the Paris Agreements by China and Vietnam ‘highlights a layer of hypocrisy’ in the approach of those states).

99 I. Harris, ‘“Onslaught on Human Beings”: A Theravāda Buddhist Perspective on Accountability for Crimes Committed in the Democratic Kampuchea Period’, in J. Ramji and B. van Schaack (eds), Bringing the Khmer Rouge to Justice: Prosecuting Mass Violence before the Cambodian Courts (Lewiston, New York, Edwin Mellon Press, 2005), pp. 59–95, p. 60.

100 Law on the Outlawing of the ‘Democratic Kampuchea’ Group, Reachkram No. 01.NS.94, 15 July 1994 (English translation based on the text published by Phnom Penh Post, vol. 3, no. 14, 15–28 July 1994).

101 Royal Decree (Reach Kret), NS/RKT/0996/72, 14 December 1996, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

102 Fawthrop and Jarvis, above n. 58, p. 137.

103 Ibid.

104 Ibid.

105 The abolition of the death penalty would not normally result in those previously sentenced to death walking free, rather, commutation to a term in prison would be the norm. See Prosecutor v Ieng Sary, ECCC Case File No. 002/19-09-2007-ECCC/OCIJ (PTC75), Pre-Trial Chamber, Decision on Ieng Sary’s Appeal Against the Closing Order, 11 April 2011, para. 192.

106 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, Thirty-Fifth Session, Summary Record of the First Part (Public) of the 1510th Meeting, E/CN.4/SR.1510, 9 March 1979, paras. 24–5.

107 Cambodian Genocide Justice Act, 22 U.S.C. 2656, 30 April 1994.

108 D. Scheffer, All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2012), pp. 344–5.

109 Reydams, Wouters, and Ryngaert, above n. 89, p. 47.

110 Cambodian Prime Ministers Ung Huot and Samdech Hun Sen, ‘Letter to United States President Bill Clinton’, 27 November 1997, cited in Scheffer, above n. 108, p. 351.

111 United Nations General Assembly, The Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, A/RES/52/135, 27 February 1998.

112 See Scheffer, above n. 109, p. 347: (indicating that reports of Pol Pot’s whereabouts and capture in this period were misleading).

113 See United Nations General Assembly, The Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, A/RES/52/135, 27 February 1998; and United Nations General Assembly, The Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, A/RES/53/145,9 December 1998.

114 S. Berfield, ‘Forget the Killing Fields?’, ASIAWEEK, 8 January 1999, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

115 Report of the Group of Experts for Cambodia Established pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 52/135, A/53/850, 18 February 1999, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

116 Berfield, above n. 114.

117 United Nations General Assembly, The Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, A/RES/54/171, 17 December 1999.

118 ‘Life for Khmer Rouge commander’, BBC News, 23 December 2002, <> [accessed 3 June 2017]. For a detailed analysis, see J. Hall, ‘In the Shadow of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal: The Domestic Trials of Nuon Paet, Chhouk Rin and Sam Bith, and the Search for Judicial Legitimacy in Cambodia’, Columbia Journal of Asian Law, vol. 20, 2006, pp. 235–97.

119 United Nations General Assembly, The Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, A/RES/56/169, 19 December 2001.

120 Letter from Kofi Annan to Hun Sen, 12 July 2002.

121 Scheffer, above n. 108, p. 402.

122 United Nations General Assembly, Khmer Rouge Trials, A/RES/57/228, 18 December 2002.

123 Agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia concerning the Prosecution under Cambodian Law of Crimes Committed During the Period of Democratic Kampuchea, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 2329, 117, 6 June 2003, <> [accessed 3 June 2017] (‘ECCC Agreement’).

124 Prosecutor v Kaing Guek Eav alias ‘Duch’, ECCC Case File No. 001/18-07-2007/ECCC/OCIJ (PTC01), Pre-Trial Chamber, Decision on Appeal Against Provisional Detention Order of Kaing Guek Eav alias ‘Duch’,3 December 2007, para. 22.

125 Scheffer, above n. 108, p. 404.

126 S. Heder and B.D. Tittemore, Seven Candidates for Prosecution: Accountability for the Crimes of the Khmer Rouge (2nd edn, Phnom Penh, Documentation Center of Cambodia, 2004), pp. 108–15 (Listed by the authors as a candidate for prosecution), and see p. i (Preface to the Second Edition; noting his death).

127 Scheffer, above n. 109, p. 341 (he writes that there was in fact no coherent US policy, fully backed by top officials in Washington), p. 343.

128 Chandler, above n. 4, p. 6.

129 K. Sothear, ‘Phnom Penh Municipality Plans City Expansion’, The Cambodia Daily, 21 March 2015, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

130 C. Maza, ‘ICC Move Fuels Debate on Cambodian Case’, The Phnom Penh Post, 19 September 2016, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

131 Marks, above n. 96, p. 47.

132 The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, 21 September 1993 (English translation, see ‘Basic Texts’, The Constitutional Council of Cambodia, <> [accessed 3 June 2017]).

133 See e.g. Joint Organizations, ‘Statement: “Cambodia Democracy in Freefall: Lifting of SRP Parliamentarians Immunity”’, Cambodian League for the Prevention and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO), <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

134 K. Hodal, ‘Cambodian Election Protests Grip Phnom Penh’, The Guardian, 16 September 2013, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

135 ‘Cambodia: New Crackdown on Protesters’, Human Rights Watch,13 November 2014, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

136 L. Murdoch, ‘Australia Silent as Cambodia's Hun Sen Deals Final Blow to Democracy’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 February 2017, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

137 ‘Cambodia: Crackdown on Garment Workers Protesting for Higher Wages – Jan 2014’, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, 29 January 2014, <> [accessed 3 June 2017]; E.T. Kim, ‘Cambodian Garment Workers Rise up and Face a Crackdown’, Al Jazeera America, 11 March 2015, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

138 J. Wallace and N. Vannarin, ‘A Life Sentence in Cambodia, but Kem Ley’s Murder is Far from Solved’, The New York Times, 23 March 2017, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

139 O. Sony, ‘Rainsy Gets 20 Months for Kem Ley Murder Claim’, The Cambodia Daily, 31 March 2017, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

140 D. Stewart, ‘Interview with Sophorn Sek: “In Cambodia, ‘Democracy' is Just a Term …”’, Carnegie Council, 4 April 2017, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

141 L. H., ‘Feeling Cheated’, The Economist, 29 July 2013, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].

142 S. David and C. Maza, ‘Cambodia Bans Breast Milk Exports after International Media Coverage’, The Phnom Penh Post, 28 March 2017, <> [accessed 3 June 2017]; T. Wong, ‘Cambodia Breast Milk: The Debate over Mothers Selling Milk’, BBC News, 29 March 2017, <> [accessed 3 June 2017]; K. Forster, ‘US Company Selling Human Breast Milk Stopped by Cambodia Export Ban’, The Independent, 28 March 2017, <> [accessed 3 June 2017]; ‘This Week in Asia: April 2-82017’, South China Morning Post, p. 5.

143 ‘Time to Move on – UN Expert Urges Cambodia to Fully Implement Rights and Freedoms at Every Level’, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 20 October 2016, <> [accessed 3 June 2017].