Officials from the Ministry of Culture and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia met last week to discuss reparations for civil parties in future cases at the war crimes tribunal.
Seng Sought, director of the Culture Ministry’s international relations department, said the ECCC had requested talks on the construction of a memorial at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum that would contain the names of civil party victims.
“The Ministry of Culture … did not deny the request but said that if a memorial could not be built, a stupa in the Khmer style might be possible,” he said. An official annual day of commemoration for victims is also being considered, he added.
In its first verdict, handed down last year against former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, the court granted requests of civil parties to have their names printed in the judgment and to have statements of apology by the accused collected and published.
However, the court refused other forms of reparations proposed by civil party lawyers, including the building of stupas and funds for victims.
The court’s internal rules at the time allowed judges the right to award “collective and moral” reparations to qualifying civil parties, but judges denied other proposed forms of reparation because they either lacked specificity or were beyond the scope of possible options available to the court, which cannot grant monetary compensation.
Civil party lawyers have appealed against the judgment, charging in the aftermath of the verdict that the judges had been unimaginative in crafting reparations awards. The prosecution and defence have also appealed, and the tribunal’s Supreme Court Chamber will hear the case later this month.
At a plenary session in September, the ECCC adopted changes to its rules on victim participation and the awarding of reparations that will allow it to collaborate with governments and NGOs, make use of external funding and make non-binding recommendations to the government.
Dim Sovannarom, a press officer for the tribunal, said no firm decision had yet been made about the proposed Tuol Sleng memorial.
“The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts welcomes cooperation with the ECCC in the area of reparations, but we do not yet know what form the reparations will take because it is still being negotiated,” he said.