For the last time before the start of a trial at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, those who have drawn up the court’s internal rules and procedures began a week of meetings Monday to consider calls for greater openness and for the possibility of allowing victims to be paid for their suffering and loss.
In proposals submitted last month to the court’s nine-judge rules committee, which reviews proposed changes, 10 lawyers representing Khmer Rouge victims said the court should allow judges to establish a victim trust fund and award monetary reparations—long viewed as impractical and unsuited to crimes with countless victims.
Currently, court rules provide only for “collective and moral” reparations.
However, civil party lawyer Silke Studzinsky said Monday that she felt the court had shown a lack of “political will” in neglecting to consider financially compensating individual victims of the Khmer Rouge regime.
Contributors to funds for compensation could include those convicted by the tribunal, the Cambodian government, donor countries and the UN itself, which seated the Khmer Rouge government in its General Assembly in the 1980s, she said.
Victim lawyers also called for the court’s procedures to conform to Cambodian law, which gives civil parties broader rights than does the tribunal.
In particular, they want victims to be allowed to become civil parties during trial and for their lawyers to be able to appeal trial judges’ decisions and speak in court without submitting written arguments in advance.
Tribunal Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis said Monday that in drafting the court’s founding statute, negotiators had viewed reparations as impractical.
“Some victims have said they would regard it as insulting to have their suffering quantified in monetary reparations,” she said, adding that the agenda for this week’s meeting includes matters concerning procedures at the Trial and Supreme Court chambers as well as the role of civil parties.
In a joint proposal, five organizations including the Center for Social Development, Adhoc and the Cambodian Justice Initiative called for greater public access to the court, including allowing the public to view initial appearances by those arrested by the court and for the publication of decisions resolving disputes among investigators and prosecutors.