The Victims Unit of the Khmer Rouge tribunal will soon have a new home in central Phnom Penh, and, it hopes, an expanded budget, more staff and greater legal support.
The court’s Phnom Penh office, which will also be used by Public Affairs, is at 6A Street 21, just south of Sihanouk Boulevard, and should open in mid- to late April, said Keat Bophal, head of the Victims Unit at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
The ECCC gives victims more rights than any other international criminal court in history. Since taking office Feb 18, Keat Bophal has been working to help victims make the most of the opportunities afforded them under the law.
“Victim participation increases the faith in the justice system and provides victims the first-hand satisfaction of making public the harm they have suffered,” she said.
“The process of participating gives victims the opportunity to denounce the crimes committed against them and support the rules and laws that prohibit such acts. Through participation, victims can also benefit from psychological and social support,” she added.
Keat Bophal, 34, spent a decade at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, working on human rights, trafficking and election issues. Most recently, she was a program associate monitoring land issues.
The Victims Unit is the central point of contact for victims at the court. The ECCC’s Jan 30 budget, which is now being reviewed by donors, requested $699,500 for the Victims Unit. To supplement that money, the unit has launched a fundraising appeal of its own.
The unit, which has five employees and three interns, hopes to hire three more people in May to help process complaints, and if external funding comes through, to expand the office to 30 staff members, Keat Bophal said.
Victims seeking more information can contact the Victims Unit by e-mail at [email protected], by phone at 023-219-814 ext 6058, or in person, once the new Phnom Penh office opens.
Civil party complaints must be registered before trials begin.