The Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), in collaboration with the Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Program at Stanford University, has announced the release of the final edition of the “Cambodia’s Hidden Scars” series. 

The series provides an in-depth analysis of the idea that human rights violations, armed conflict and war cause psychological and psychiatric outcomes, using the Kingdom’s tragic past to explore its themes.

The concluding volume, titled "Cambodia’s Hidden Scars: Healing and Reparations for Trauma Psychology After the Khmer Rouge Tribunal", marks a significant milestone in documenting the mental health aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime and advocating for the healing of the “hidden scars” endured by survivors.

The final in the three-part series features compelling cover art, which portrays survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime, depicted in vivid, emotive brushstrokes, reflecting their resilience and ongoing struggles with trauma. 

The art, with its poignant depiction of Cambodian villagers, symbolises both the scars of the past and the hope for healing and reparation.

“The ‘Cambodia’s Hidden Scars’ series has meticulously chronicled the intersection of trauma psychology and the legal system in the context of Cambodia’s past atrocities,” according to DC-Cam. 

This series has been instrumental in highlighting the pervasive mental health issues faced by survivors of the Khmer Rouge’s brutal regime and stresses the importance of addressing these issues in any transitional justice process.

The third volume in the series stands out by focusing on the impact of trauma on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), as well as broader Cambodian society. 

DC-Cam explained that this edition features critical evaluations of how the tribunal has handled trauma mental health, reflecting on the lessons learned and offering recommendations for future transitional justice initiatives. 

“By examining the court's proceedings through the lens of trauma psychology, this volume aims to ensure that mental health considerations are integral to post-conflict justice mechanisms and public health strategies,” it said.

Produced with support from USAID, the book is an edited collection of chapters authored by over twenty practitioners, experts, and scholars from Cambodia and around the world. 

These contributors provide a comprehensive analysis of trauma in the context of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, exploring how to navigate a future focused on healing and mental health for a generation affected by unprecedented atrocities.

The final instalment in the series not only serves as a valuable resource for scholars and practitioners but also underscores the necessity of trauma-informed practices in transitional justice processes. 

By shedding light on the mental health challenges faced by survivors, it advocates for a more holistic approach to justice and reparation that includes the psychological well-being of those affected by conflict and violence.

The book release aligns with the first conference titled "The Future of Cambodia without Genocide: Prevention and Restoration through Education and Health”.

It will be organised by the Office of the Prime Minister of Cambodia, DC-Cam and the Royal University of Fine Arts, with support from the American Society for National Development. It will take place from May 20-22 at the former Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Phnom Penh.

“The conference focuses on the historical impact of genocide on Cambodia, particularly since 1975,” according to DC-Cam. 

It aims to address the long-term health and psychological effects on survivors, explore ways to mitigate these impacts through education and health initiatives, and foster a national dialogue on healing and prevention. 

The event featured discussions on the socio-political ramifications, the importance of mental health care, and strategies for national development free from the threat of genocide.

The conference will be held under the patronage of Hun Sen, president of the Senate and chairman of the Supreme Council of the King, and Prime Minister Hun Manet. It will also be broadcast nationwide by state media.

“The Cambodian people and the world need to understand the history of Cambodia's descent into the killing field regime, as well as the justice that has been achieved for the victims and the nation as a whole," said Tep Asnarith, spokesman for the Ministry of Information. 

Kranh Tony, acting director of the ECCC’s Office of Administration, emphasised the significance of the establishment of the ECCC Resource Center. 

He stated, "The centre is vital in the post-tribunal period, as it concentrates on outreach and educating the public about the tribunal's accomplishments."