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Gender-based violence far from overlooked

Gender-based violence far from overlooked

Dear Editor,

I am aware of the debate regarding gender-based violence (“GBV”) and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

I have been reluctant to comm-ent up to this point, as prosecutor Andrew Cayley accurately set out the record in terms of the Office of Co-Prosecutor’s policy and the results of the investigation by the Office of Co-Investigating Judges.

However, following your publicat-ion of two letters to the editor by Silke Studzinsky, I am compelled to respond.

In her first letter (“Tribunal has failed victims of sex crimes”), Ms Studzinsky states: “It is evident that, since the beginning of the cases before the ECCC, sexual violence was not part of the prosecutorial strategy. This has been confirmed by Cayley’s predecessor, Robert Petit.”

That statement is a complete and utter fabrication.

It has no basis in reality, and I am surprised that a member of a Bar, which I assume Ms Studzinsky is, would risk making such a statement.

To be clear: my very first investig-ative request after having been sworn in July, 2006 was to ask the staff of the OCP about GBV.

In all the conflict situations that I have worked in, GBV is a fact that must be addressed if the evidence supports it.

That’s why all the indictments I have ever drafted, in all the tribunals I have worked in, have had GBV recognised.

In the case of Cambodia, however, the research, done by a credible gender researcher, showed GBV was widespread but not part of the policy of the Khmer Rouge leadership, and that whenever perpetrators became known to the hierarchy, they were sanctioned and, more often than not, executed for their crimes.

Based on that information, I concluded, as did the Co-Investigating Judges in their Closing Order, that the senior leaders over whom we had jurisdiction could not be held liable.

Respect for the victims of any crimes entails respect for the truth of their ordeal. The victims of gender violence in Cambodia deserve no less.

Robert Petit
Former International Co-Prosecutor Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
Send letters to: [email protected]

The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post

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