Briefing Paper

Recent Developments in the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia: January 2019

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Date
January 2019

The Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia issued a historic second judgment against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan on November 16, 2018, on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The court found both accused guilty on a number of the charges and handed both their second sentences of life in prison.

This marks the court’s third Trial Chamber Judgment since it began operating in 2006. It is by far the most extensive judgment in terms of coverage of Khmer Rouge crimes. 

Meanwhile, there is uncertainty about whether cases against three remaining accused (referred to as Cases 003, 004, and 004/02 or as part of the 003/004 series of cases) will be finally resolved consistent with the legal principles and rules of the court. The Co-Investigating Judges, responsible for judicial investigations, have issued conflicting Closing Orders in two of the cases (003 and 004/02)—with the Cambodian judge seeking to dismiss the charges and the international judge issuing indictments.

A third case in the series, Case 004/01, with charges against Im Cham, has been finally dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The Co-Investigating Judges are scheduled to issue their Closing Order (or Orders) in the second quarter of 2019 in the final of the series—Case 004/02 with charges against Yim Tith.

The government of Cambodia opposes all of the 003/004 cases and has claimed that the court’s rules on resolving conflicting Closing Orders are ambiguous. There is uncertainty about how these cases will be resolved. 

This update concludes with some observations and recommendations for the court.

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