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New study finds overwhelming support for KR trial

Results from a survey conducted by the Khmer Institute of Democracy show that Cambodians

overwhelmingly support a Khmer Rouge tribunal, even if it falls short of international

judicial standards.

According to the study of 536 Cambodians, 96.8 percent want a Khmer Rouge trial,

an increase from previous surveys. The Center for Social Development reported in

2000 that 82 percent of respondents supported a tribunal and 72 percent of Cambodians

in a 2002 survey conducted by the Documentation Center of Cambodia answered that

they wanted "a trial to be set up soon."

The number of Cambodians who said they thought about the Khmer Rouge years also increased,

from 59.8 percent in DC-Cam's 2002 study to 89.1 percent in the most recent findings.

"I think this is because there has been more discussion on the topic,"

said Andrea Behm, a member of KID's core research team.

The study also found that Cambodians with higher levels of education were more willing

to accept a trial "that didn't correspond 100 percent with international standards"

than their less educated counterparts.

"Higher educated respondents don't expect as much that the trial will bring

justice," Behm said. "But they think it might reveal some historical facts."

Although men and women told KID's interviewers that they wanted a tribunal in relatively

equal numbers, of the 24.7 percent who were unaware a trial was currently being set

up, 73.3 percent were women.

Interviews for KID's research were conducted in Phnom Penh and ten provinces on Aug.

16-17, 2004. Researchers completed some questionnaires face-to-face and others in

less personal survey form.

At a recent presentation of findings, some audience members took issue with KID's

research methods. They challenged the phrasing of certain questions and the fact

that staff interviewed family members first, then acquaintances and then strangers.

Nonetheless, researchers were confident of their results.

"We found that (all three groups) had similar responses," said core team

member Neang Sovathara. "Most people really wanted to talk about it, and when

they talked, they talked from their hearts."

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