NGOs Lament Lack of KR Tribunal Coverage

Coverage of proceedings at the Khmer Rouge tribunal has declined drastically among the country’s major news outlets, stifling the court’s ability to keep the public informed of efforts to bring justice to the regime’s victims, civil society groups said in a statement released Wednesday.

The statement, which was backed by five organizations including the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee and the Asian International Justice Initiative, laments the dwindling attention the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has received since the trial of Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, the chief of the S-21 security center.

“In the ECCC’s first case against [Duch], the media attention to the trials was overwhelming,” the statement says, listing The Cambodian Television Network (CTN), Apsara TV and Television Khmer (TVK) as stations that frequently reported the proceedings.

“Since then, there has been a drastic decline in the media coverage of the ECCC trials. The largest newspapers of the country, Koh Santepheap, Rasmei Kampuchea, and Kampuchea Thmey, rarely publish news on the ECCC,” it continues.

The groups go on to cite a survey by the Open Society Justice Initiative that found support for the tribunal is in decline due to the lack of knowledge of the current trial against Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

“This is a troubling development, as the lack of available information for victims threatens the mandate of the ECCC to bring justice to the victims,” the statement says.

Nou Sophors, news director for CTN, said the station axed its regular “Facing Justice” program about the tribunal due to a desire to cover a wider range of local and international news events.

“Firstly, it’s a decision made by upper levels…and secondly it’s a matter of time,” Mr. Sophors said, adding the station will continue to cover major events at the tribunal such as a verdict.

Teav Sarakmony, editor-in-chief of Rasmei Kampuchea, refuted claims his paper has been neglecting the ECCC, but conceded that sometimes the newspaper’s reporting is delayed.

“When the readers can’t find it one day, they assume we didn’t run it but we actually print it the next day,” he said.

“Even if there is no actual trial, we keep running three [stories every] week about Khmer Rouge genocide.”

(Additional reporting by George Wright)

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