I write in response to the letter from Margot Wallström, a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, published in The Phnom Penh Post on May 29 and headed “The forgotten Khmer Rouge victims”, and the reply to Wallstrom’s letter by Andrew Cayley, QC, the International Co-Prosecutor of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).
The Victims Support Section, in partnership with the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation and the Cambodian Defenders Project, has already embarked on the implementation of the “Promoting Gender Equality and Access to Justice for Female Survivors and Victims of Gender-Based Violence under the Khmer Rouge Regime” project.
This project, funded by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, is designed to last from October, 2011 to late September of 2014.
Stories of victims of Khmer Rouge sexual violence do not remain hidden.
First, on May 31 this year, the Victims Support Section, the Cambodian Defenders Project and the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation began holding “launching of gender-responsive practice” thematic workshops.
These workshops are just a part of activities designed to redress the suffering of female and gender-based violence victims in order to enable them to access justice, mental support, documentation and dissemination of information about gender-based violence under the Khmer Rouge, women’s rights and good practice of gender-sensitive transitional justice measures (such as Cambodian Women Hearing).
This activity is within the context and scope of non-judicial measures mandated in the role of the Victims Support Section in compliance with the ECCC’s Internal Rule 12, which states: “The Victims Support Section shall be entrusted with the development and implementation of non-judicial programs and measures addressing the broader interests of victims. . . developed and implemented in collaboration with governmental and non-governmental organisations external to the ECCC.”
Second, in addition to the efforts to promote gender equality and access to justice for female survivors and victims of gender-based violence under the Khmer Rouge regime, the core project of the Victims Support Section, meaningful victims’ participation in the proceedings of the ECCC, has been a backbone for the victims to exercise their rights through judicial proceedings and participate in the justice-seeking process as civil parties in the proceedings of the ECCC.
In fact, the majority of the 3,864 civil parties in Case 002 are females.
Third, female victims of the Khmer Rouge regime have been assisted in attending hearings and have been provided with legal representation through the victims’ support programs of non-governmental organisations, working in line with the ECCC’s public-affairs section and the Victims Support Section as partners.
They have received mental support, legal counselling and outreach advocacy for their rights and their access to justice in the due diligence process of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
The Khmer Rouge’s female victims have not been forgotten in the current work of the ECCC’s Victims Support Section.
Chief of the Victims Support Section of the ECCC
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The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.