Justice Initiative Hails Adoption of Rules for Khmer Rouge Trials
NEW YORK—The quest for justice in Cambodia advanced significantly when judges for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia announced their agreement on internal rules to govern the court's operations, the Open Society Justice Initiative said today.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, which has a three-year mandate to try those most responsible for the mass crimes of the Khmer Rouge, was stalled over the rules that will guide the court. Internal Rules of Procedure are necessary for formal judicial proceedings to go forward and to ensure the court meets minimum fair trial standards.
"This agreement on the rules is a significant step forward for the [court]," said James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative. "Major tasks remain for the court, but today's announcement puts the Cambodian people closer to seeing justice done. The critical next step is for the rules to be released publicly."
Completing the Internal Rules of Procedure was a demanding and complex task given the unique structure of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, which combines Cambodian and international law. Previous attempts foundered when the court's judges failed to agree on the rules, but a plenary meeting of the judges in Phnom Penh led to successful adoption. With today's announcement, the court can begin moving forward with referrals from the co-prosecutors and, eventually, trials.
"Adoption of the rules shows what the court can achieve when all parties have the requisite will," said Goldston. "We hope the same joint determination will be applied to the court's remaining challenges, including finalizing referrals of cases for formal investigation, conducting investigations that meet international standards, and establishing transparent administrative procedures."