ECCC: Call for transparency and independence of proceedings in Cases 003 and 004, and for an effective implementation of victims’ rights to participate

Press release

As the 10th session of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) Plenary concluded yesterday, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisations in Cambodia, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO), express their shared concern regarding indications of political interference and a disturbing lack of transparency in Cases 003 and 004 before the ECCC. The ECCC cannot achieve a “restor[ation of] the trust in the courts that was destroyed during the period of the Democratic Kampuchean regime”, as Judge Silvia Cartwright, Vice-President of the ECCC Plenary, called for in her opening speech on 1 August 2011, if its proceedings are not viewed as independent, fair and transparent.

We recall that on 29 April 2011, the two Co-Investigating Judges announced that their investigation in Case 003 was concluded. Although not named by the ECCC, the identities of the two former officials suspected in Case 003 have been widely reported as being Khmer Rouge air force commander Sou Met and navy commander Meas Muth. While Case 004, involving three individuals, is currently open, it faces a similar premature end. Senior Cambodian government officials, including the Prime Minister, have publicly and repeatedly opposed pursuing Cases 003 and 004, claiming that prosecution of these cases would lead to civil unrest.

FIDH, ADHOC and LICADHO are deeply concerned that the Co-Investigating Judges concluded their work without having properly investigated suspects in Case 003 and that there are indications that they will apply the same approach in Case 004. The suspects in these cases were not interviewed. The Co-Investigating Judges did not visit any of the crime sites. Indeed, as the Co-Investigating Judges themselves acknowledged in February 2011, “the work [of the Co-Investigating Judges] at present is focused on examining and analyzing […] the existing documents in the previous Case Files 001 and 002. Therefore, at this stage, no field investigation is being conducted.”

Our organisations also regret that the investigation in Case 003 was closed before victims had the possibility to properly participate in this investigative phase; the Co-Investigating Judges did not interview any witnesses. A lack of transparency on the true scope and nature of the investigation, as well as a lack of proactive investigative measures to interview potential victims and witnesses, did not allow victims to share their testimonies or to otherwise participate in the proceedings in any meaningful way.

As the trial phase in Case 002 is about to begin in a few weeks, it is unfortunate that before this hybrid tribunal, which has an innovative scheme for victims participation as civil parties, victims in Cases 003 and 004 do not appear to have the same rights as victims participating in Case 001 and in Case 002,” said Mr. Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President and legal representative of victims before the ECCC in Case 002.

It is noted, with interest, that the International Co-Prosecutor concluded that the crimes alleged in his Introductory Submission of September 2009 had not been fully investigated. He submitted on 9 May 2011 and again on 10 June 2011 a request for further investigative actions to be undertaken by the Co-Investigating Judges as well as a request to extend the deadline for filing Civil Party Applications in Case 003. On 16 June 2011, he filed another request for further investigative actions in Case 004. We also note that several international staff members of the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges resigned several weeks ago, in protest of this apparent lack of will to conduct proper and thorough investigations.

Our organisations call on:
 the ECCC, and in particular the Co-Investigating Judges, to carry out their mandate to conduct an effective, thorough, impartial investigation in an independent and transparent manner in order to genuinely fulfil the Extraordinary Chambers’ mandate of truth, justice and reparations for victims of the Khmer Rouge regime;
 the United Nations to closely monitor the investigation and prosecution proceedings and ensure the respect by all members of the ECCC of the basic principles of independence, equity, integrity and transparency;
 the Cambodian authorities to cease and refrain from interfering with the work of the ECCC.

Read more

  • Co-signatories
    September 2009 9 September: International Co-Prosecutor’s Introductory Submission on alledged crimes in Cases 003 and 004, naming 5 suspects.
    November 2009 Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision to forward Cases 003 and 004 to the Co-Investigating Judges.
    February 2011 2 February: Co-Investigating Judges state that their work in Cases 003 and 004 focuses on “examining and analyzing the documents available on the Case Files... particularly in the previous Cases Files 001 and 002”, and that, at that stage, no field investigation was being conducted.
    April 2011 29 April: Co-Investigating Judges state that their investigation in Case 003 was concluded.
    May 2011 - 9 May: International Co-Prosecutor files requests for further investigative actions and for a supplementary delay for Civil Party Applications in Case 003
     As of 18 May 2011, the Victims Support Section (VSS) had received 318 Civil Party Applications for Case 003.
    June 2011 - 7 June: Co-Investigating Judges decide to reject the International Co-Prosecutor’s different requests considering that the exceptions for a solitary action by one Co-Prosecutor (record of a delegation of power or a disagreement) were not met.
     10 June:
    * International Co-Prosecutor resubmits three investigative requests and a request for an extension of the deadline for filing Civil Party Applications in Case 003, after having recorded four Disagreements as requested by Internal Rules.
    * International Co-Prosecutor also files a notice of appeal against the Co-Investigating Judges’ rejection order to the Pre-Trial Chamber, stating that he does not accept their interpretation of the law.
     16 June : International Co-Prosecutor informs the public that he filed a request for investigative action and a supplementary submission to the Co-Investigating Judges as regards the ongoing investigations in Case 004.
    August 2011 The International Co-Prosecutor’s appeal of Co-Investigating Judges decision of 7 June rejecting his requests for further investigative actions and for a supplementary delay for Civil Party Applications in Case 003 is still pending.

Take action