Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - 40pc of population in dark on KRT

40pc of population in dark on KRT

40pc of population in dark on KRT

090122_04b.jpg
090122_04b.jpg

Few Cambodians have full knowledge of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, and one-third of those who do say they doubt the court is neutral, a recent academic survey has revealed.

Photo by:

Tracey Shelton

An ECCC civil party holds a photograph of her sister, who was killed in Tuol Sleng prison, at her home in Prey Veng. 

ECCC Awareness

Had no knowledge of the ECCC - 39 percent

Had limited knowledge of the ECCC - 46 percent

Said they would watch the ECCC proceedings if broadcast on live TV - 98 percent

Did not know what the ECCC would achieve - 37 percent

Believed former Khmer Rouge should be held accountable for their crimes - 90 percent

Believed reparations should go to victims - 88 percent
SOURCE: HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE,

UC-BERKELEY

A SURVEY released Wednesday found that 85 percent of Cambodians had little or no knowledge of the Khmer Rouge tribunal last September, nearly a full year after all five of the former Khmer Rouge leaders who are currently detained had been charged and taken into custody.

In addition to this lack of knowledge, the survey pointed to some public doubts about the court's objectivity: One-third of respondents familiar with the tribunal said they did not believe the court was neutral, with 23 percent saying it was corrupt.

In conducting the survey, the Human Rights Centre at the University of California, Berkeley (UC-Berkeley), interviewed 1,000 Cambodians in all 24 provinces and municipalities between September 9 and October 1. A report detailing the results was presented Wednesday at a day-long conference at the Sunway Hotel.

Helen Jarvis, the court's chief of public affairs, disputed the findings, saying that the results were "not consistent with our own feedback in the field".  She pointed to a February 2008 survey released by the International Republican Institute that reported a higher level of public knowledge about the tribunal. In that survey, which involved 2,000 interviews, 71 percent of respondents said they "were aware of the Khmer Rouge tribunal that is putting top leaders of the Khmer Rouge on trial".

Jarvis questioned the wisdom of concluding from the Human Rights Centre data that the court had failed in advertising its mission and operations.   

"The Berkeley report does not present any control data as to the extent of knowledge by their informants on other facts and developments in Cambodia or abroad, so we do not know if it is reporting a generalised deficit in knowledge, or a specific deficit in relation to the ECCC," she wrote in an email to the Post.

But Phuong Pham, director of research for the Human Rights Centre, said the report drew from a nationally representative sample and that researchers controlled for literacy and education levels, adding that she did not believe ignorance of the court was symptomatic of a broader knowledge deficit among respondents.

Call to raise awareness

The report called for a multipronged campaign to raise awareness, including the broadcasting of public service announcements and weekly summaries of trial proceedings on radio and television, frequent media interviews with judges and staff, and expanded educational materials.

"The only way this trial can be successful is if more people understand what is going on," said Patrick Vinck, director of the Initiative for Vulnerable Populations at UC-Berkeley.

Richard Rogers, interim chief of the court's defence support section, echoed this call for more outreach.

"I think that it's important for the court and for NGOs to deal with that issue by speaking on the radio and promoting the work of the court."

Rogers said it was concerning that one-third of respondents openly doubted the court's neutrality, but he said this was likely a reflection of how Cambodians perceive the national court system.  

"Survey after survey has shown that many Cambodians are not satisfied with the way that their local courts function," he said. "They often feel that the courts are there to promote the interests of the powerful."

Pham said she expected public awareness of the tribunal to increase as the trials get under-way. Initial hearings for the trial of Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, or Duch, are scheduled to begin February 17.

 ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SARAH WHYTE

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four