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Victim Participation in Court Proceedings

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During Case 001, the VSS was the designated support body to Civil Parties, for example, by assisting with transportation to some hearings and finding private places to rest at break times. It also organized meetings between all Civil Parties before and at the end of the trial. But, due to VSS’ limited resources, NGOs were at the forefront of victim support, which included assisting people to file applications, notifying applicants of the results of their applications, providing legal representation, and informing and supporting accepted Civil Parties and applicants. The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) organized monthly meetings to inform Case 001 Civil Party applicants about the process, as well as giving them opportunities to meet their lawyers, and gathering information about their needs and their expectations of reparations. The Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP) and Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC), jointly with international pro bono civil party lawyers, provided legal assistance. The Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) offered psychological support before, during and after the trial to victims participating in the proceedings.[1]

In respect to Case 002, NGOs expanded their work and the VSS took up more victim support responsibilities. The Co-Investigating Judges released the scope of the investigation in Case 002 in November 2009[2] and gave potential Civil Parties a deadline to file their applications of January 29, 2010.[3] Some organizations such as ADHOC shifted their resources toward facilitating victim participation. CDP, LAC and TPO continued their work and also developed new projects, such as CDP’s Gender-Based Violence During the Khmer Rouge regime project. VSS became increasingly involved, often coordinating with NGOs, in informing victims interested in applying as a Civil Party about the process and in gathering and processing Victim Information Forms to ensure they met the Court’ s requirements.

Accordingly, participation in Case 002 has been vastly higher than in Case 001. The VSS received 8,202 Victim Information Forms, 84% of which were submitted through NGOs.[4] Among those, 3,988 were Civil Party applications. By the time of the Closing Order in Case 002 (September 2010), the Co-Investigating Judges had declared that 2,123 people were admissible as Civil Parties.[5] Most of the applicants declared inadmissible are currently appealing the decision before the Pre-Trial Chamber.

Since the end of the Duch trial, the ECCC Judges have amended the Internal Rules to entrust VSS with the responsibility of identifying, designing and implementing reparations projects for Civil Parties, as well as developing “non-judicial” measures for victims at large. They have also modified the Civil Party legal representation scheme by introducing the positions of Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyers to represent the consolidated group of Case 002 Civil Parties at trial and beyond.[6]

[1] Those services include but are not limited to on-site psychological support for Civil Parties and witnesses of the ECCC, phone counseling, psychological support during outreach activities, training, radio programs, testimonial therapy and psychological services. For details, see “Justice and Healing in Times of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal” (Cambodian: Transcultural Psychosocial Organization), available at

[2] Office of the Co-Investigating Judges, “Statements from the Co-Investigating Judges Judicial Investigation of Case 002/19-09-2007-ECCC-OCIJ and Civil Party Applications, (Cambodia: the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, 5 November 2009), available at

[3] Office of the Co-Investigating Judges, “Conclusion of Judicial Investigation in Case 002/19-09-2007-ECCC-OCIJ,” (Cambodia: the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, January 14 2009), available at

[4] “VU/VSS Outreach. Brief report for the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) Workshop” presented at the ICTJ Workshop on Outreach, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 3-5 March 2010

[5] See, ECCC Court Report, Issue 29, Phnom Penh, September 2010, 4, available at

[6] “Internal Rules, (rev. 6)”, Rule 12 bis and ter, Rule 23 quinquies (Cambodia: The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, 17 September 2010)