Key recommendations to emerge from our findings are as follows:
To the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
Ensure transparency at the ECCC and address political interference with the justice system. Respondents showed strong support for and increasing expectations towards the ECCC. The Duch trial helped augment respondents’ trust in the law and in the national justice system. This is positive news for the court and the national justice system. But to sustain that trend, transparency must be prominent especially as Cases 003 and 004 are debated in the media.
Expand and improve the outreach efforts of the ECCC. In the last two years, awareness and knowledge of the ECCC have increased. Television and radio are still powerful means to reach the population. Visiting the court and attending a hearing are ways to participate in the ECCC proceedings. The second trial is about to begin; live proceedings on television, weekly summaries of trial proceedings and opening up the court to Cambodians should resume to ensure information dissemination to a large portion of the Cambodian population. But because legal language and proceedings could be difficult to understand for people outside the legal profession, interviews with court judges and staff should be commonplace during and after the trials to help explain complicated legal and judicial concepts and more importantly the verdicts to the public.
Expand education programs in collaboration with donors, non-governmental organizations, and the Cambodian government. Results of the survey are clear and consistently show over time that respondents want to know more about what happened during the Khmer Rouge regime. Non-governmental organizations in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport have made big strides in introducing school curriculums in high schools across the country and educating Cambodians in villages. Building on what is already in place and working together, the ECCC, donors, non-governmental organizations, and the Cambodian government should use this unprecedented opportunity to create curricular modules combining historical texts and visual materials from the first and forthcoming trials for use not only in universities but also in communities across Cambodia. These educational products could also serve as part of the court’s legacy.
Recognize that the vast majority of Cambodians desire some form of collective and symbolic reparations. The Court has acknowledged the need of the victims to be recognized and has entrusted the Victims Support Section (VSS) with the mandate of developing non-judicial measures for the victims. VSS should take lessons learned from the other projects, forge partnerships with relevant governmental and non-governmental actors, and consult with the victims. As the second trial gets underway, this crucial issue should not be sidelined but rather reinforced with the necessary political will and resources.
To Donors and Non-Governmental Organizations
Develop coordinated outreach efforts with clear guidelines and goals to provide needed information to the public. The second trial will be complex and difficult to understand for ordinary Cambodians. Yet the data suggest most Cambodians are not very knowledgeable about the Court’s mandate and procedures, or about the outcome of the Duch trial.
Support and focus on how to provide and deliver reparations and other non-judicial measures that are determined in partnership with victims and their families. Cambodians favor reparation measures that directly affect their livelihood and access to services. However, many also offered examples of measures that could be implemented in communities (e.g., public ceremonies and memorials).
Develop and implement a comprehensive strategy when funding Cambodia’s transitional justice process (i.e., not only the court, but also a few restorative or truth-telling measures around the ECCC). The objective would be to engage in community-based dialogues and discussions that could have lasting impacts beyond the judicial process, including ones on unity and reconciliation. The results suggest that trials alone are insufficient to achieve the type of social changes that are needed.
Develop integrated psycho-social health programs across the country. Respondents have signaled that the trials at the ECCC could help victims feel better, have less anger and help relieve their pain and suffering. Non-governmental organizations have paid attention to civil parties and witnesses’ mental health before, during, and after the first trial. As the second trial is about to begin, non-governmental organizations and donors should collaborate to ensure that such programs be expanded to Cambodians across the country, ensuring that the expected positive impacts be maximized.
To the Government of Cambodia
Develop ways to integrate ECCC best practices into the national justice system. For respondents, justice meant being fair, enforcing and respecting existing laws, and knowing who is right and wrong. The ECCC’s presence provides an opportunity for donors, non-governmental organizations, and the Government of Cambodia to come together and strengthen the national criminal justice system, address political interference with the justice system, and integrate the judicial legacy and legal best practices of the ECCC, instituting transparency, accountability, and efficacy.