Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge: Between Justice and Memory

While justice remains elusive, efforts to document what occurred during the period offer more encouragement.

While the pursuit of justice for the genocide that occurred under Cambodia’s brutal Khmer Rouge continues to be a challenging process legally, a more encouraging sign is the fact that a new generation of scholars are continuing to shed light on what happened so that the memory of that period is still kept alive.

The legal maneuvering at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has continued without respite. Pol Pot’s former henchmen Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan have launched an appeal against their genocide convictions, while a senior prosecutor has resigned.

Achieving victory at the appeals level in the UN-backed Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts in Cambodia (ECCC) has generally been unsuccessful, and in one case the convicted, Kaing Guek Eav – the commandant of the S21 torture and extermination camp – received a heavier sentence.

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