Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Duch debacle a lesson for court, Justice Initiative says



Duch debacle a lesson for court, Justice Initiative says

Duch debacle a lesson for court, Justice Initiative says


 

Duch's reconstructions served as a "flash point for increasing tension between the press and the court," according to the Open Society Justice Initiative. While most media representatives had to rely on accounts from others, a documentary crew was allowed to film the closed reconstructions and hearing.

A Post photographer who entered the tour area was detained by police for two hours, her photos deleted. Other journalists were threatened with a "life ban" from covering the court if they published pictures of the event.

The episode -- and the frictions it aggravated -- demonstrate the need for a more open environment at the ECCC, OSJI claims. In its monthly report released May 14, the Justice Initiative identifies transparency as one of the major hurdles facing the court.

Even before Duch's return to the Killing Fields, tension "had been building for months as the ECCC determined how best to protect confidential information, while public and press concerns regarding the ECCC's failure to disclose information about its work mounted," OSJI reports.

In response, a group of media representatives and civil society leaders submitted a list of 12 recommendations to the court. A few of the suggestions: the court hold regular press conferences and briefings, release pleadings that don't jeopardize confidential information and make available administrative documents such as proposed budgets.

The court has started to address some of these issues. There are plans underway for monthly updates from each section of the court. In addition, a day-long conference with press and NGOs will be held in the next couple months to discuss access to information.

However, according to OSJI, a key problem with transparency continues. As it stands, adversarial hearings before the Co-Investigating Judges are closed to the public, while appeals to the Pre-Trial Chamber are to be conducted in camera.

"The presumptively closed nature of these proceedings does not serve the interest of justice," OSJI reports, "and the ability of the Cambodian public to understand the ECCC's proceedings."

The court's internal rules should be altered, OSJI recommends, opening such proceedings to the public whenever possible.

Given the general disconnect between the Cambodian population and the court, this seems like sound advice. Any initiative, within reason, that further engages actual Cambodians in the ECCC's activities, is well worth the effort.

* Pictured above: Police escort Duch's convoy as the former torture chief leaves Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Feb. 27. (Photo by Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP).

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied