Cambodia’s Nuremberg moment comes despite tribunal’s limitations

The Khmer Rouge tribunal convicted the final two surviving leaders of genocide. However, tribunal’s legacy will go far beyond the convictions.

More than 1.7 million people died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. It has taken almost 50 years for the last surviving leaders to face justice. Too little, too late or has the UN-backed tribunal delivered justice for the victims of Pol Pot’s brutal regime?

Earlier this month, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were handed life sentences for genocide. The only other person the tribunal, known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), convicted was Kaing Guek Eav, who ran the harrowing Tuol Sleng torture centre, in 2010.

Two others initially indicted died before the proceedings finished. Cases against others collapsed. After 12 years and an estimated cost of more than US$300 million, the Cambodian government says the tribunal’s work is done.

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