Posters Promoting Controversial Tribunal Stir Their Own Controversy

Four new posters promoting the work of the Extraordinary Cham­bers in the Courts of Cambodia began making their way around the country this week. Though their message is simple, they are not without controversy.

The tribunal spent more than $14,000 on the posters and printed 25,000 in Khmer and 500 in Eng­lish, ECCC public affairs officer Peter Foster said. Hundreds were given to more than 15 NGOs in Phnom Penh on Wednesday for distribution across the country.

“I think it will send a good message to the public,” Foster said. “We’re investing a lot of money in these posters. We believe this has a future.”

The posters were created by Design Group, a local company that has also done work for Raffles Hotels and Cambodia Indochina Assets Ltd, which owns the FCC, Pacharan and Fresco restaurants.

The posters feature simple messages: Every decision by the ECCC must have the support of both Cambodian and international jud­ges; it’s time for the record to be set straight; everyone can be involved in the process; and ordinary Khmer Rouge soldiers have nothing to fear.

Youk Chhang, the director of the Docu­mentation Center of Cambod­ia, which will distribute 4,000 of the posters, took issue with the Khmer-language version of this last message.

In English, it reads, “Ordinary KR soldiers have nothing to fear,” but in Khmer it reads, “There will be no prosecution for or­dinary soldiers.”

Youk Chhang claimed the Khmer phrasing prematurely restricts the scope of prosecution.

“‘Those most responsible’ has not yet been defined,” he said.

“We should leave it to the prosecutor to decide how to issue indictments.

“The message is about political stability but it does not serve the concept of justice,” he added.

ECCC public affairs chief Helen Jarvis said the message correctly conveys the mandate of the court.

“Only senior leaders and those most responsible for serious crimes are under the jurisdiction of the court,” she said.

Early viewings of the posters have also prompted some speculation among several tribunal watchers about whom the people in the posters—which feature illustrations of anonymous Khmer Rouge leaders—might resemble.

“They were designed to be unspecific,” Jarvis said.

“Perhaps that’s why people see resemblances to something in their mind. It was not based on any individual,” she said.

In other efforts to inform the public about the tribunal, Foster said the tribunal plans to print 50,000 to 60,000 “I support the Khmer Rouge Trial” bum­per stickers, which he hopes to see plastered on motorcycle taxis and tuk-tuks across the country in a month or so.

 

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