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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pailin residents view KRouge sites with civil society group tour

Pailin residents view KRouge sites with civil society group tour

Delays at Cambodia's genocide court are disillusioning many, but a local NGO is trying to facilitate dialogue and keep people interested

HOPES for justice are rising as the first public trial of former Khmer Rouge torture chief Duch draws closer, but some remain baffled by the role of Cambodia's genocide tribunal  and delays in the court are starting to irritate many. 

"The trial process is being intentionally delayed. I don't understand why the money donated is not adequate," said 58-year-old Hem Saroeun, a Pailin resident who took part in a recent Center for Social Development (CSD) visit to Phnom Penh to visit the court.

"I have heard Reach Sambath, the court spokesman, say that the tribunal won't succeed if it doesn't have more money," he said, his face wrinkled with concern.

As part of its ongoing program to help people like Hem Saroeun understand Cambodia's genocide tribunal, the CSD  on Tuesday escorted Pailin residents to the court and genocide sites in the capital.

The CSD's public forum unit's activities aim to give Cambodians an insight into the  Extraordinary Chamber's efforts to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice, said Theary Seng, executive director of CSD and a civil party to the trials.

An expensive trip

"We spent over US$100,000 dollars on each round of the forums," she said.

"We have been taking villagers to see the Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek museums and the [Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia]."

Tuesday's trip was a prequel to the Pailin public forum which is to be held October 17.

This is the third forum of its kind held in former Khmer Rouge stronghold, and the 18th forum held nationwide since 2007.

"CSD invited 50 villagers from Pailin to visit Tuol Sleng, Choeung Ek and the ECCC so that they may be able to engage more meaningfully in the discussions at the October 17 public forum," Theary Seng said.

For her, the most important thing about the public forums and tours is that it "enable[s] participants to discuss their experiences under the Khmer Rouge regime with others."

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