No clarity after victims unit meet on mandate

The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s victim support section met yesterday with NGOs to discuss unit’s expanded mandate to help victims of the Pol Pot regime using “non-judicial measures.”

However, participants in the meeting said that it had not been entirely successful because the victim’s office still did not have a clear idea about what form such measures might take.

Seven months ago, the court’s judges narrowed procedural rights for victims but broadened the victims unit’s mandate to include services outside the formal legal process and to include people other than civil parties.

But the office’s chief Rong Chhorng said last week that the unit still did not fully understand what it was meant to do.

Chum Mey, a survivor of S-21 prison and a civil party, concurred, saying he and many others were left unsatisfied yesterday because the victim’s office was unable to share many ideas about what non-judicial measures it might take.

Victim organizations “have complaints because of the lateness of the non-judicial measures and we aren’t sure who is responsible to handle this task,” he said.

Anne Heindel, a legal adviser for the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said yesterday’s meeting had left some frustrated because the VSS asked for ideas, but was unable to lay out a clear vision of its own role.

“There is a bit of weariness among people about explaining what you’ve been doing for four or five or six years without a little sense of how it’s relevant or something practical that will come out of it,” she added.

Pich Ang, who will become the court’s Cambodian lead civil party lawyer next month, said the victim’s seemed to expect civil society to take the lead on conceiving of and implementing the new measures.

“The civil party lawyers want the victims support section to push the non-judicial rules, but the victims support section said the lawyers, civil society and other organizations have more ability to push non-judicial measures.”

Im Sophea, the unit’s newly appointed head of outreach, said the unit was working on a “blueprint to provide this kind of services.”

“It’s not a matter of understanding what non-judicial measures is about, but a matter of coordination,” he added.

At a plenary session set for next week, judges are expected to clarify the victims unit’s mandate, as well as the court’s rules on reparations schemes for victims.


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