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On trial before the world

111209_23
Journalists watch proceedings at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Dear Editor,

We would like to provide more detail on how the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is working to ensure that the historic trial of those alleged to be the most senior surviving leaders of Democratic Kampuchea is accessible not only to the nation, but also to the world.

The opening statements in Case 002 were reported by more than 200 journalists from the national and international media, including representatives of AFP, Reuters, AP, EP, the BBC and al-Jazeera.

And, since the hearing of evidence in Case 002 began last Monday, around 100 journalists have come to the court each day to ensure they don’t miss a single historic moment.

The world is talking about the Khmer Rouge trials in Cambodia, where the crimes were committed, and the trial of the defendants in Case 002 is generally being reported as one of the most significant in international criminal justice because of the magnitude of the crimes and the seniority of those on trial.

More than 200 articles in Khmer, English and French were posted, published and broadcast during the first four days of Case 002, from November 21 to 24.

The highest number of circulated articles was in the US, where more than 50 were published, followed by Britain (more than 30 articles).

In Cambodia, all local television and radio stations covered the hearings – including live broadcasts that reached millions of people.

During the trial of Case 001, CTN, a privately owned television station, was often able to provide live coverage, especially in the mornings, with explanations given by various court officials and experts.

We hope that live broadcasts can be continued but, in any case, CTN is still able to cover the trial three times daily in its prime-time news (at 10am, 1:20pm and 6:45pm).

In addition, all the television stations (including Apsara TV, Bayon, TVK and TV9) and numerous radio stations run brief spots each day on the trial, as well as regularly broadcasting longer interviews, roundtable discussions and documentaries on the subject.

The public-affairs section of the ECCC is working closely with the media and non-government organ-isations alike to ensure the general public has more opportunities to learn about the court.

We are assisting Khmer Mekong Film Production with its weekly program Facing Justice, broadcast every Monday on CTN from 3pm to 3:30pm, and repeated on Thursday from 4:30pm on the same channel.

We also work with KMF on its Facing Justice radio program, which is aired on Radio National of Kampuchea (AM 918KHz and FM Wat Phnom FM 105.75) every Monday from 5:15pm to 6pm.

Radio Free Asia’s website provides live broadcasts of every public hearing of the trial ; Radio FM 102 MHz airs its Truth program from 10:50am to 11:50am every Friday; and the ECCC recently launched a weekly radio show, Khmer Rouge on Trial, airing every Thursday evening from 5:15 to 6:15pm on AM 918 KHz and FM 105.75 MHz.

In addition to working with the media, the ECCC also undertakes extensive nationwide outreach activities, regional forums and study-tour programs.

The “Night of  Remembering” sessions held across the country, with screenings of historical films and the latest footage from the ECCC, have helped raise public awareness of the court among regular Cambodians, improve public understanding of the court process and increase interest in the proceedings.

Furthermore, since 2009, the Victims Support Section of the ECCC has organised regional forums attended by a total of 3,678 civil parties and civil-party applicants from all over Cambodia.

These forums provide a safe venue for dialogue for civil parties from the provinces with their lawyers and with officials from the ECCC, enab-ling them to meet civil parties from Case 001 and exchange experiences that will help them have a greater involvement in Case 002.

More than 100,000 individuals have visited the court since the beginning of the first trial. This extensive program of outreach will continue to draw more visitors to the proceedings.

In addition, the thousands of villagers who come to attend the trial every day are spreading news of the trial proceedings to other members of their communities.

It is a milestone achievement that the court can play a role in helping survivors of Khmer Rouge regime get close to the trial, which is in the process of delivering justice.

Both directly and through the media, the Cambodian people are receiving unprecedented levels of news and information.

I am thankful to all the media organisations that have contributed their time and resources to help make this trial in Phnom Penh accessible to the nation and the world.

I do believe that they will continue, and even increase, these activities as the proceedings in Case 002 unfold.

Tony Kranh
Acting director of administration of the ECCC Phnom Penh

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