Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New research to explore legacy of KR reparations



New research to explore legacy of KR reparations

Khmer Rouge tribunal officials hold a consultation forum on reparations in Case 002/02 in Siem Reap in July of last year.
Khmer Rouge tribunal officials hold a consultation forum on reparations in Case 002/02 in Siem Reap in July of last year. Celine Braun/ECCC

New research to explore legacy of KR reparations

A researcher with Melbourne University has launched a new study that will seek to gauge recognised Khmer Rouge victims’ satisfaction with reparations projects ordered by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, as well as the projects’ lasting effect on the national consciousness.

Dr Rachel Hughes explained her research in a public lecture on Thursday, saying it would seek to analyse the claim that a trial for perpetrators of crimes against humanity can strengthen rule of law and human rights, while also looking into the way reparations projects affect national reconciliation.

“I’m interested in the tribunal as something more than a legal process,” Hughes said, explaining that the reparations projects could influence the “dynamics of social memory”.

“What is the relationship between the legacies of hybrid criminal tribunals and political and social change in a post-conflict society?” she asked, explaining that as of now, little research has been done on the topic.

Hughes’s study will last two years, culminating in a full-length book and shorter publications periodically released along the way.

The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights defines reparations as “restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantee of non-repetition”, but the ECCC’s mandate only provides for “collective and moral reparations”, mostly in the form of memorials and education.

Theresa de Langis, an expert on forced marriage during the Khmer Rouge, said that although the ECCC was “breaking new ground” with its reparations projects, there was still room for improvement on the part of the government, which could offer victims more tangible support.

“If the state government were more involved, the reparations could be expanded to include things that victims need like health care and psychosocial support,” de Langis said yesterday.

“The civil party lawyers have come a long way in developing the reparations scheme … to make sure that civil parties are part of the decision-making process,” she said.

According to the tribunal, reparations projects are dependent on “external funding which has already been secured”, and a proposal can only become an official reparation project if the accused party is convicted of the specific crime it addresses.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, acknowledged the system of reparations was flawed, but praised the endeavour nonetheless, noting that “justice is defined by the survivors”.

“We must make all effort, knowing that it’s not going to be perfect,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants