CORRUPTION, MARGINALIZATION, AND DELAY: WHAT “JUSTICE” MEANS IN CAMBODIA
By: Hudson B. Kingston
In July of 2010, the Extraordinary Chambers of Cambodia (ECCC), a hybrid tribunal established to try the Khmer Rouge perpetrators of atrocities, sentenced its first defendant. Known as “Duch,” Kaing Khek Iev was sentenced to 35 years in prison (reduced to 19 years based on time served) angering many surviving victims of the regime, who found it difficult to accept a punishment short of life imprisonment. The ECCC may have told its story of the genocide, but it failed to meet many of the expectations Cambodians seemed to have for it.
The sentencing of Duch highlights the many obstacles the ECCC has faced ending the impunity of the perpetrators of Khmer Rouge atrocities and providing the people of Cambodia with “justice.” In his analysis of the progress of the ECCC and Cambodian law, Hudson Kingston explains these shortfalls. He concludes that for Cambodia to achieve classic criminal justice goals (i.e. retribution; rehabilitation and social solidarity; and restorative justice and deterrence), if that is even possible in the context of genocide, the country and international donors must look to institutions beyond the judicial mechanisms of the ECCC.