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On July 26, 2010, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, was convicted of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.[1] The judgment was an important milestone for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) created four years earlier in 2006. The case against Duch focused on the infamous prison Tuol Sleng, where at least 12,200 Cambodians were imprisoned, tortured, and ultimately killed. He was the first former Khmer Rouge to stand trial at the ECCC for the horrendous crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime, which reigned over Cambodia between April 17, 1975, and January 6, 1979. More than 1.7 million Cambodians died of starvation, exhaustion from slave labor, summary executions, and torture over that period.

The ECCC is the first serious effort to hold accountable the members of the Khmer Rouge regime (KRR) most responsible for what happened during that period. For many Cambodians, it may also be the last opportunity to obtain justice for crimes committed over 30 years ago. In September 2010 the Co-Investigating Judges indicted four more suspects for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as homicide, torture and religious persecution, under the Cambodian Penal Code 1956: Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, and Ieng Thirith.[2] Recently, the Co-Investigating Judges further notified the parties that they completed investigations into a third case, Case 003, and were examining the evidence in a fourth case.[3]

As the second trial of the ECCC will unfold in the coming year, there is an urgent need to examine the lessons learned from the first trial, and to identify the challenges that the Court will continue to face. This study was undertaken to contribute to that process. Its contribution is to present a representative assessment of the population’s view about the ECCC’s work, and the trial of Duch, as well as the outcome and impact of the proceedings. Understanding the population’s views about justice and the Court is necessary to ensure that the proceedings are meaningful for the population. The study relies on two population-based surveys of 1,000 adult Cambodians randomly selected throughout the country. The first survey was conducted in 2008 before the trial of Duch began. The second survey was undertaken in 2010, nearly six months after the sentencing.

[1] The judgment was made on July 26, 2010. See, “Judgment, Criminal Case File # 001/18-07-2007-ECCC/TC” Cambodia: Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, available at

[2] During the DK regime, Ieng Sary was deputy prime minister and foreign minister; Khieu Samphan was president; Nuon Chea, also known as “Brother no. 2”, was second in command; and Ieng Thirith was minister of social affairs. For details on Case 002 initial hearing, see “Media Advisory. Media Accreditation for the Initial Hearing in Case 002 27-30 June 2011”, Cambodia: Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, available at; for details on the charges, see “Closing Order, Criminal Case File # 002/19-09-2007-ECCC-OCIJ”, Cambodia: Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, available at

[3] For details of Case 003, see “Notice of Conclusion of Judicial Investigation, Case file #003/07-09-2009-ECCC-OCIJ”, Cambodia: Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Available at Cases 003 and 004 are widely expected to be dismissed.