Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Students witness KR history



Students witness KR history

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Students sit at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)'s court room to witness the hearing. ECCC

Students witness KR history

Seventeen first-year Phnom Penh law students witnessed history recently as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) became the first international tribunal to rule that the atrocities committed under the Khmer Rouge amounted to genocide.

The tribunal sentenced Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, former leaders of the ultra-Maoist regime, to life imprisonment for genocide and crimes against humanity carried out between 1977 and 1979.

The English Law Programme students at the Royal University of Law and Economics (RULE) had attended the ECCC for private group visits.

“It was a very unique opportunity for these students to visit the court,” said Nathan Chan, one of the students’ lecturers who arranged the visits.

“First, as future lawyers, they can take advantage of having in their own backyard, one of the few criminal courts in the world that have ever existed to prosecute those responsible for mass atrocities."

“But more importantly, for these students personally, they have the opportunity to learn about the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime, which happened more than two decades before they were born,” he said.

The students – who study in the university’s English Language Based Bachelor of Law (ELBBL) programme were welcomed by the ECCC’s Public Affairs Section, which coordinates these free visits to educate the public about the court’s work.

Each visit lasted about 90 minutes and consisted of a briefing on the purpose and history of the court and the cases, followed by discussions led by representatives from the co-prosecutor and defence teams.

“Many in the older generations avoid talking about their traumatic experiences, so this is a great way for these students to learn how their own parents, grandparents, and other elderly relatives, likely suffered during that time."

“The students have learned the fundamentals of legal systems and the law recently in my class,” added Chan, who is teaching the first-term ‘intro to law’ course called Legal Method and Reasoning.

“So the visit provided a real-life example of concepts such as the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard that applies to the criminal defendants, as well as the respective roles of the prosecutors, defence lawyers, and judges within the civil law legal system of Cambodia,” he said.

Thirty-eight ELBBL students (ranging from the first to third year) also attended the public hearing on November 16, when the Trial Chamber provided a summary of its judgment in Case 002/02 against Chea and Samphan.

The students witnessed history as the Court became the first international tribunal to decide that what happened from 1975 to 1979 was in fact genocide against the Cham and Vietnamese minorities in Cambodia.

“It was great [for us] to be able to see a case that is an important part of our country’s history,” said one of the students, Kimhuor.

Another student, Thavanny, said: “We learned a lot more details about what happened during the Khmer Rouge. Before this, we only knew generally what had happened.”

Based on the positive feedback of the students, Chan hopes to make private visits like November’s more regularly in the future – at least every year with each new ELBBL entrance class, if not more often.

“It is too invaluable an opportunity to pass up. I plan to continue setting up these visits as long as the court continues to do its work,” he said.

To arrange a private visit to the ECCC, please contact the Public Affairs Section by email at [email protected] or by phone at 023 861 565. You can also visit https://www.eccc.gov.kh/en/about-eccc/visitor-info/group-visits for more information.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia's cluster cases jump to 259

    The Ministry of Health on February 27 recorded 26 more cases of Covid-19 linked to the February 20 community transmission, bringing the total to 259 in one week. The 26 include three Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. The ministry noted that five of the Chinese