The government has established a new working group which will work alongside the UN and other development partners to complete the remaining tasks of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), commonly known as the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
The remaining work of the ECCC includes the maintenance of collective and psychological compensation for victims of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime and the integration of historical knowledge for the next generation, among other tasks.
According to a November 17 government resolution, signed by Prime Minister Hun Manet and made public on December 5, the new group will be led by Vongsey Vissoth, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Council of Ministers. It will have a total of 17 members, with additional components to be added as necessary.
“This working group has the task of cooperating with relevant ministries, institutions, UN, development partners and civil society organisations [CSOs] to ensure the smooth and successful implementation of the remaining functions of the ECCC, based on the legal framework and agreement between the Cambodian government and the UN,” stated the resolution.
The working group will also develop projects which will provide additional support to civil parties and victims of the Khmer Rouge regime.
“It will promote the transfer of knowledge and skills, including human resources and experience from the Khmer Rouge tribunal, to relevant ministries, especially education, culture and justice institutions in a bid to prevent the return of genocide in Cambodia and provide justice to the victims for the experience to the regional and international stage,” added the resolution.
Kang Rithikiri, a lecturer in law who served as a lawyer representing Case 001 at the ECCC, was heartened by the creation of the group, describing the completion of the work of the tribunal – such as the termination of civil compensation to the victims and, in particular, the preservation of the tribunal’s inheritance – as important.
He said the work of preserving documents from the tribunal is difficult. It requires a regular budget and capable human resources to preserve the historical memories.
“It is important to remember and recognise the crimes that were committed, so they can be prevented, and so people are aware that the atrocities really happened in this world. Such crimes are not impossible, as some people may think,” he added.
Keo Duong, an academic specialising in the history of the genocidal regime, said the establishment of the new working group reflects the government’s attention to the inheritance of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
He agreed that it should not be forgotten, and that the best way to preserve the knowledge of the tribunal is to integrate it into the relevant institutions. He believes the education ministry in particular could benefit by integrating it into the national curriculum.
He noted that the ECCC legacy has legal value as a model procedure for local tribunals and to present and interpret the complex history of Cambodia, as it relates to the Democratic Kampuchea regime.
“By prosecuting the Khmer Rouge leaders for genocide, it reflects only the crimes against the Vietnamese and the Cham. Cases 001 and 002 contain millions of pages of documents that will serve as archives for the study of Khmer Rouge history and legal aspects,” he said.