The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia is now accepting applications for an unpaid internship program, which will put recent university graduates and post-graduate students from around the world to work with international staffers at the court.
The internship program coincides with an increase in staffing at the ECCC’s public affairs office, which expects to hire about six new staffers—three foreign and two or three Cambodian—in the coming months, officials said.
The hiring comes even as most functions of the court have stalled, due to a prolonged debate over crucial procedural rules that cover everything from victim rights to witness protection and defense.
The ECCC rules committee, which failed last month to draft a new set of rules, is scheduled to return to the negotiating table in March.
ECCC public affairs officer Peter Foster said that despite the challenge of educating people about how the court will function in the absence of a firm set of operational rules, the new staffers would focus on blanketing the provinces with information about the court.
“The court is for the people of Cambodia. Unless they understand what is happening and feel good about the process, we’ll have failed no matter what happens,” he said.
Some of the 12 interns the court plans to take will be placed in the public affairs office. Others will go to the offices of the international pre-trial, trial, and supreme court judges; the international co-investigating judge and co-prosecutor; and the defense support section. Internships last two to three months.
So far, there is no solid plan to launch a complementary program on the Cambodian side of the court, though some interns have worked on an informal basis, Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis said.
Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, encouraged Cambodians to apply for the internships and said he hoped both sides of the court would benefit from the program.
“The international side should share those resources with the Cambodian side,” he said. “They need it. I would also encourage the Cambodian side of the court to create their own internship program.”
The courts in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, as well as the International Criminal Court, have all employed internship programs.