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A claim for reparations

A claim for reparations

ECCC civil parties to file for free medical care and other damages.

FREE medical care, the erection of memorial pagodas and the dissemination of apologies from Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, are among the reparations requests civil party lawyers are to make in a filing to be submitted today on behalf of their clients in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s first trial.

The joint filing from all four civil party groups also requests that the final judgement from the Trial Chamber mention the names of the 91 civil parties and specify their connections to the S-21 security complex.

Should Duch be unable to pay for reparations, the filing states, their costs should be covered by the government or by an independent fund drawing on external sources, as well as any “criminally acquired” property confiscated from the prison chief.

Lawyer Alain Werner said the joint filing demonstrated “unity” on the part of the civil parties, as well as their ability “to substantially and efficiently contribute to this process of justice”.

Beyond the joint filing, lawyers plan to include individual reparations claims in final submissions to the Trial Chamber. A decision on reparations will likely be announced at the same time as the verdict, which is expected early next year.

The tribunal’s internal rules stipulate that judges can award only “collective and moral reparations”, citing as examples the publication of a judgement in the media and nonprofit work designed to benefit victims.

Civil party lawyers argue in the filing that the court has great flexibility in determining an award, adding that any award should reflect “past harms suffered, ongoing harms suffered and the cultural context in which the civil parties live”.

In their request for free access to psychological and physical care and free transportation to medical facilities, the lawyers state: “Past torture, forced labour, malnutrition and bad conditions of detention can have a huge impact on the health of victims. Moreover, psychological trauma can also create physical harm. These physical harms often worsen as the victim ages.”

Suggested education programmes include efforts to study past human rights abuses, including those perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge, as well as programmes designed to raise awareness of human rights in contemporary Cambodian society.

A wide range of different memorials is suggested, though all would be specific to S-21 victims. Noting that many civil parties live outside Phnom Penh, the filing argues that small-scale memorials – especially pagodas – should be erected in local communities Kingdom-wide.

In addition to the dissemination of apologies already uttered by Duch, the filing also suggests that outreach-related reparations include additional public apologies – provided that Duch “would cooperate and respect” civil parties.

“Respect in this sense means that Duch should not apologise and then claim that he was only following orders,” the filing states. “This excuse-based apology only hurts victims and makes his apologies seem insincere.”

The filing also highlights the challenges faced by the court in providing reparations when the accused has “been properly determined to be indigent”.

The internal rules hold that the cost of reparations should be “borne by convicted persons”. But the lawyers argue that the rules can be interpreted to allow for flexibility when the convicted person is too poor to pay.

The lawyers also ask for further evidence to prove Duch’s claim that he is unable to contribute financially to reparations. More generally, the lawyers say there is “a pressing need for greater accountability and transparency” in determining defendants’ assets as well as “likely strategies” to shield those assets, adding that the issue will likely have “significant implications for future cases”.

Dramatic krt testimony finale focuses on remorse
The international defence lawyer for Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, ended the last day of testimony in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s first case Wednesday with a series of questions clearly intended to demonstrate the sincerity of his client’s apologies and statements of remorse.
Francois Roux prefaced the exchange by quoting former international co-prosecutor Robert Petit, who early in the trial said Duch would need to fully admit to his role at Tuol Sleng before he could “benefit” from his confession. “With regard to this, I have only one question to put to you,” Roux said. “Do you admit that in reality you were the man who, enjoying the trust of his superiors, implemented in a devoted and merciless fashion the persecution by the [Communist Party of Kampuchea] of the Cambodian people in S-21? Do you admit this, yes or no?” Duch responded, “Yes, I completely admit it.” Over the prosecution’s objection, Roux then showed for the court footage of Duch’s February 2008 visit to the Choeung Ek killing fields, during which he expressed in a statement “indescribable remorse” for the atrocities of the regime. In the video, after Duch concludes his statement, Chum Mey, a civil party and Tuol Sleng survivor, thanks him for “admitting his responsibility”, adding, “I have no grudge against him – what I want is justice and peace for our country”. Roux ended the dramatic exchange by asking Duch whether victims would be able to visit him in prison. Duch said they could, adding that he hoped victims “could see my true self”. As the testimony concluded, a voice from the translation booth could be heard exclaiming: “This is a play!”


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