FIDH, Adhoc and Licadho Statement on witnesses and victims

29/03/2005
Press release

Victims and Witnesses protection

The FIDH, ADHOC and LICADHO welcome the 14 March 2005 statement of the government’s Task Force on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal concerning the commitment of the government of Cambodia to full protection of the security of both witnesses and victims during the Khmer Rouge trials.

Any reference by the speakers at the conference to the fears of witnesses and victims simply reflected such fears expressed by the Cambodians present at the conference in questions from the floor. Some participants expressed fears from the accused - especially if they lived in Pailin, while others specified that they were afraid of reprisals from others who may be implicated, but not tried. Other participants said that they would like to testify and had no fear. . Indeed, the provisions of the Extraordinary Chambers (EC) Law and the agreement with the UN concerning the security of victims and witnesses implicitly recognize that these groups have legitimate concerns for their safety before, during and after the trial.

However, this general framework needs to be completed and widely disseminated in order to allay these legitimate fears. The FIDH welcomes the creation of a high-level security commission on this issue and hopes that NGO’s will be included in the process and kept informed of the "separate security arrangements" agreed with the UN.

Victim’s participation

It is also encouraging to see official confirmation that the right of victims, under Cambodian law, to join criminal proceedings as civil parties will also be implemented before the Extraordinary Chambers. However the FIDH, ADHOC and LICADHO note that in its statement the Task Force expresses concerns about the implementation of this right.
Indeed, one of the main aims of the Conference organised by FIDH, ADHOC and LICADHO in Phnom Penh on 2 and 3 March 2005 was to raise awareness amongst NGOs and victims about the need to envisage mechanisms for effective participation of victims and to build upon the existing mechanisms for victims of massive crimes before the International Criminal Court.

Guaranteeing the right of victims to participate will give them a greater sense of "ownership" of the trials and will guarantee their right to an effective remedy through participation and legal representation. <> In particular, given the absence of any specific reference to civil parties in the relevant legal documents, the FIDH, ADHOC and LICADHO would welcome clarification that the provisions concerning the protection of victims and witnesses [EC Law Art. 33], the independence of counsel [EC Law Art. 42(3)] and of witnesses and experts [UN Agreement, Art. 22], will apply equally to victims in their capacity as civil parties and to counsel, witnesses and experts appearing for them.

Reparation

With regards to reparation, the FIDH, ADHOC and LICADHO welcome the Task Force statement that it is taking reparation into account. Reparation includes indeed restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. It does not necessarily, nor exclusively, mean monetary compensation, but may also take collective or symbolic forms as well as access to psychological assistance. Some suggestions included construction of memorials, organisation of religious ceremonies or burials, and revelation of the truth, including the preparation of school textbooks covering this period.
Whereas the judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will decide on the extent and appropriate forms of reparation, the government of Cambodia will play an essential role through its obligation to cooperate and facilitate the implementation of reparation orders, since the EC Law stipulates that all unlawfully acquired property by the persons found guilty shall be returned to the State (art. 39).

For more information, please contact :
ADHOC 016 880 509
LICADHO 012 802 506
FIDH 33 1 43 55 25 18 / 14 12

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