I was struck by Documentation Centre of Cambodia director Youk Chhang’s comment in the Post on December 7 that: “The ECCC is a court, not a forum for reconciliation.”
In my opinion, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is both a court and a forum for reconciliation.
As a court, the ECCC can deliver justice and, as a forum for reconciliation, it can provide truth for Khmer Rouge victims. Both these things are equally important for victims.
The ECCC is a court, because it publicly prosecutes alleged Khmer Rouge leaders. It provides an opportunity for prosecutors and defence lawyers to debate so the public can clearly understand who is right and who is wrong.
At the end of legal proceedings, the ECCC’s decision can deliver justice and help to heal the wounds of Khmer Rouge victims. But the ECCC is also a forum for reconciliation, as it can uncover the truth about the Khmer Rouge regime.
Youk Chhang has acknowledged the power of truth elsewhere, most recently when he said Khmer Rouge leaders’ accounts must be heard so younger generations can learn about this chapter in Cambodian history and make their own judgment.
It’s very likely that Youk Chhang prefers justice to truth for reconciliation. Some other Khmer Rouge victims, however, may prefer truth to justice for their reconciliation process. Justice and truth should
be viewed as equally important for reconciliation.
So it really doesn’t matter what a victim chooses for his or her reconciliation process, because the ECCC is both a court and a forum for reconciliation.
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The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.