Civil parties to the Khmer Rouge tribunal have overwhelmingly expressed their confidence in the tribunal’s work, with some 96 per cent of nearly 420 parties surveyed affirming that they believe the court will deliver justice to the regime’s victims, according to a report by Adhoc and Harvard University.
However, the report – first released in January, and posted to the tribunal’s website just last Friday – is based on a survey conducted in 2011 of civil parties’ attitudes toward the court, attitudes that Adhoc representatives and civil parties themselves are quick to note have dramatically changed.
According to the report, at the time interviews were held, roughly 96 per cent of respondents – both civil parties and Adhoc civil party representatives, who help manage the nearly 1,700 civil parties that Adhoc assists – believed that the “ECCC will bring justice to the victims of the Khmer Rouge”. In the same vein, 73 per cent found it to be “doing enough for the victims”.
Recent court shake-ups, however, have drawn very different comments, with the co-ordinator of Adhoc’s Khmer Rouge tribunal project, Latt Ky, saying that “only a few” civil parties now approve of the court’s work.
Yesterday, civil party representative Pech Srey Phal said that she had been one of the survey respondents in 2011 who had expressed their faith in the court, but that now “the hope for justice from the Khmer Rouge defendants is gone”.
“At the beginning, we completely gave our hope to the court that justice would be given to the victims of the Khmer Rouge, but later on, Ieng Thirith was found unfit to stand trial, and they let her go. Ieng Sary died, and Nuon Chea is reportedly unwell,” she said, adding that all the while, “the court, so far, does not show any significant progress”.
“I don’t think the court has, so far, done enough for the victims in Case 002,” Srey Phal continued.
Civil party and S-21 survivor Chum Mey espoused a similar sentiment at an Adhoc meeting shortly after Ieng Sary’s death, saying that if the court also lost the regime’s number two, Nuon Chea, it might as well close its doors.
The view was a popular one among the roomful of civil party representatives with whom he sat.
However, though few civil parties have come forward to support the court in recent months, not all have lost faith in the proceedings entirely.
Civil party Toeung Sokha said yesterday that in spite of recent disappointments, she hesitated to withdraw her confidence, saying that “as one of the civil parties, I have to struggle to see the court complete its mandate”.
“We are swimming in the river now and cannot stop in the middle of the river,” she said. “We have to try to reach the bank. We have only one court, so we will just have to wait and see if justice is finally given to us.”