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University of California, Berkeley MYCHELLE BALTHAZARD SOKHOM HEAN ERIC STOVER The Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley and its Initiative for Vulnerable Populations conducted the survey and released the study findings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 21 January 2009. The report here has been re-printed with minor editing to the original text.

The INITIATIVE FOR VULNERAbLE POPULATIONS uses empirical research methods to give voice to survivors of mass violence and improve the capacity of local organizations to collect and analyze data about marginalized populations. The Initiative and its partners work to ensure that the needs of survivors are recognized and acted on by governments, UN agencies, and nongovernmental organizations.

The HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER promotes human rights and international justice worldwide and trains the next generation of human rights researchers and advocates. More information about our projects can be found at http://hrc.berkeley.edu This report was made possible by grants from the Open Society Institute (OSI), Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), and the German Development Service (DED), Civil Peace Service (ZFD). The information provided and views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the funding agencies.

Cover art by Pamela Blotner JANUARY 2009












1. Introduction

2. Background

3. Demographics

4. Experience, Knowledge, and Attitudes Towards the Khmer Rouge Regime

Exposure to violence

Knowledge of the Khmer Rouge Regime and Truth Seeking

Attitudes Towards Former Members of the Khmer Rouge


5. Perceptions of Justice

Perception of Justice and Conflict Resolution Mechanisms

Justice and Current Priorities

6. Perceptions and Attitudes about the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Knowledge of the ECCC

Outreach and Media

Attitudes Towards the ECCC


7. Conclusions and Recommendations

8. Authors and Acknowledgements


This report provides the findings of a nationwide, population-based survey conducted in Cambodia from 9 September to 1 October 2008. Teams of interviewers used a structured questionnaire to interview 1,000 Cambodians 18 years old or older. The primary objectives of the study were to • measure public awareness of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC);

• assess the desire for justice and reparations for crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979;

• determine the level of access Cambodians have had to the ECCC and the national criminal justice system; and • recommend ways in which the ECCC, the Cambodian government, civil society, and the international community can ensure that Cambodians become engaged participants in—and not merely auxiliaries to—the work of the court.

For the survey, researchers randomly selected 125 communes out of 1,621 using systematic random sampling proportionate to population size. At least one commune was then selected in each of the 24 provinces of Cambodia. Next, researchers randomly selected two villages from each commune, resulting in a sample of 250 villages. Within each village, four households were randomly selected using linear systematic sampling with equal probability of selection. Within each household, a Kish grid was used to select at random one household member to interview. Finally, researchers analyzed the data using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16.0. Further information about the survey methodology and limitations is provided in the Introduction.

By the time of the survey, the ECCC had arrested and charged five former leaders of the Khmer Rouge. The first to be taken into custody, in July 2007, was Kaing Guek Eav (Duch), former head of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison (also known as S21). He was later charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. By late 2007, four other suspects had been detained and charged with similar crimes: Ieng Sary, Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs of Democratic Kampuchea, the name given to Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge regime; Nuon Chea, known as “Brother Number Two” and second-in-command to the Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot; Khieu Samphan, President of Democratic Kampuchea; and Ieng Thirith, Minister of Social Affairs of Democratic Kampuchea. The first to stand trial will be Kaing Guek Eav and proceedings are expected to begin in February-March 2009.

–  –  –

KNOWLEdGE OF ThE KhmER ROuGE Nearly thirty years after the end of the Khmer Rouge regime, two-thirds of the population of Cambodia never directly experienced the violence and abuses of that period: 68 percent of the population is 29 years old or younger. Eight-one percent of respondents in our survey who did not live under the Khmer Rouge regime described their knowledge of that period as poor or very poor.

Most (84%) said their main source of information about the Khmer Rouge was from families and friends, while only 6 percent said they acquired it in school. Seventy-seven percent of all respondents said they wanted to know more about what had happened during the Khmer Rouge regime, while 85 percent of those who did not live under the regime wanted to learn more.

A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes about Social Reconstruction and the Extraordinary Chambers In the Courts of Cambodia LIVING WITh FORmER mEmbERS OF ThE KhmER ROuGE The vast majority of respondents said they still harbored feelings of hatred towards those Khmer Rouge members responsible for violent acts. Seventy-one percent said they wanted to see the Khmer Rouge suffer in some way. A third said they wished they could take revenge (37%) against former Khmer Rouge and that they would do so if they had the opportunity (40%). Forty-seven percent said they were uncomfortable living in the same community with former Khmer Rouge members. However, one-third of respondents (36%) said they had forgiven the Khmer Rouge. Feelings of hatred were more frequent among those who lived under the Khmer Rouge regime compared to those who did not. Likewise, forgiveness was less frequent among those who lived under the Khmer Rouge regime compared to those who did not.


Nine out of ten respondents in our survey said that members of the Khmer Rouge should be held accountable for the crimes they committed. When asked to specify who should be held accountable, half (51%) mentioned Khmer Rouge leaders or officials, and 20 percent mentioned the Khmer Rouge regime in general. One-quarter (24%) identified Pol Pot, the deceased Khmer Rouge leader, while 11 percent mentioned one or more of the five Khmer Rouge leaders currently in custody. Forty-nine percent of respondents said Khmer Rouge who committed crimes should be tried in a court of law.

When asked who should be in charge of holding these individuals accountable, respondents said the current Cambodian government (58%), the international community (18%), the national judicial system (17%), and the ECCC (9%).

ExTRaORdINaRy chambERS IN ThE cOuRTS OF cambOdIa

• Knowledge of the ECCC. Thirty-nine percent of the respondents in our survey had no knowledge of the ECCC, and nearly half (46%) had only limited knowledge. Among those who had some level of knowledge about the ECCC, 53 percent adequately described it as a hybrid court comprising national and international judges and staff. However, 82 percent of these respondents were unable to name all five accused currently awaiting trial. Of those who had heard about the ECCC the main sources of information were radio (80%) and television (44%). Twenty-eight percent of these respondents reported having seen specific TV programs about the ECCC, most frequently news reports (45%) and soap operas (16%). The vast majority (98%) said they would watch the ECCC proceedings if they were broadcasted live on TV. Finally, less than 1 percent of those respondents who had lived under the Khmer Rouge regime had participated in an outreach activity related to the ECCC over the twelve-month period prior to the survey.

• Perceptions and Expectations of the ECCC. In general, those respondents who were aware of the ECCC gave it very high marks. Eighty-seven percent said the court would respond to the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge. About two-thirds (67%) believed the ECCC judges would be fair and the court was neutral. Sixty-eight percent believed the ECCC would have a positive effect on the victims of the Khmer Rouge and their families. However, there was ambiguity among some


respondents about the court’s objectivity and integrity. One-third said the court was not neutral and, among them, 23 percent felt it was corrupt. Respondents had high expectations of the ECCC.

Of those respondents who had “a little knowledge” of the ECCC, 26 percent said the court would bring justice and 20 percent said the court would punish the guilty. However, 37 percent did not know what the ECCC would accomplish.

• Recommendations to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Respondents who had at least some knowledge of the court were given the opportunity to make one recommendation to the ECCC. Consistent with their perceptions and expectations, respondents wanted the court to speed up the trials (30%) and for it to be fair and independent (22%).

Seventeen percent said they did not know what to recommend to the court.

• Reparations. ECCC judges have the authority to rule that reparations of a collective, symbolic, and moral—but not financial—nature be provided to certain groups of victims (i.e., civil parties).

Such reparations could include erecting statues, building memorials, renaming public facilities, establishing days of remembrance, expunging criminal records, issuing declarations of death, exhuming bodies, and conducting reburials. The vast majority of our respondents (88%) said reparations should be provided to victims of the Khmer Rouge, and that they should be provided to the community as a whole (68%). Over half (53%) said reparations should be in a form that affects the daily lives of Cambodians, including social services (20%), infrastructure development (15%), economic development programs (12%), housing and land (5%), and provision of livestock, food, and agriculture tools (1%).


Respondents showed little confidence in the national criminal justice system. Only 36 percent said they trusted it, and a slightly higher number (37%) said they trusted Cambodian judges. Less than half of respondents (44%) agreed with the proposition that Cambodian justice is for everyone, or that Cambodian judges treat everyone equally (40%). Eighty-two percent said going to court was too expensive and required bribing judges (82%) or the police (77%).

Key recommendations to emerge from our findings are as follows:


• Deal immediately and effectively with allegations of corruption and lack of transparency at the ECCC. Among Cambodians who are knowledgeable of the ECCC, there is strong support for its work. Survey respondents expressed high expectations that the court will be fair and independent.

This is good news for the ECCC, but it could easily erode if allegations of corruption continue.

Respondents showed little confidence in the national criminal justice system because of corruption and a lack of trust in court officials. The ECCC should not succumb to the same fate. Moreover, the court should ensure that trials are transparent and conducted in a timely fashion.

A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes about Social Reconstruction and the Extraordinary Chambers In the Courts of Cambodia • Greatly expand and improve the outreach efforts of the ECCC. Knowledge of the ECCC nationwide should be much higher at this point in time, given that it became operational in 2006. Less than 1 percent of those who lived under the Khmer Rouge (four individuals) had participated in an ECCC-related outreach activity during the 12 months prior to the survey. Public service announcements about the court should be broadcast on radio and television. Interviews with court judges and staff should be commonplace during the trials to help explain complicated legal and judicial concepts to the public. Finally, a weekly summary of trial proceedings—preferably in a talk show format that encourages debate—should be aired on both radio and television.

• Appoint a staff member to serve as an “educational liaison officer” to donors, nongovernmental organizations, and the Cambodian government. The ECCC’s primary obligation, as with all courts, is to hold fair and public trials. That said, the court is in a unique position to act as a catalyst for educational programs that will connect the court’s activities to Cambodian history. Cambodia’s school system has failed to educate young people about the crimes of the Khmer Rouge. Working together, the ECCC, donors, nongovernmental organizations, and Ministry of Education should use this unprecedented opportunity to create curricular modules combining historical texts and visual materials from the forthcoming trials for use in primary and secondary schools. These educational products could also serve as part of the court’s legacy.

• Recognize that the vast majority of Cambodians view themselves as direct or indirect victims of the Khmer Rouge and desire some form of collective and symbolic reparations. Why this is a pressing issue for the ECCC is reflected in the finding that most respondents said it was more important for the country to focus on problems Cambodians face in their daily lives than the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge. This suggests that the ECCC must find ways to ground its activities in the current concerns and needs of the population. Providing reparations—especially those aimed at providing social services and infrastructure development—could help meet this need.


• Find ways to help the ECCC better inform Cambodians about its mandate and activities. Donors and nongovernmental organizations have played a critical role in supporting the ECCC on many levels, including outreach and training. Yet the data suggests most Cambodians are not aware of the court or know very little about its mandate and procedures. It also appears that outreach efforts have not been well coordinated. A centralized process with clear guidelines and goals could help remedy this situation.

• Continue to provide support to the ECCC in defining what reparations will work in the Cambodian context. As noted earlier, Cambodians favor especially those reparations that affect their daily lives.

One workshop has already been convened in late November 2007 focusing on the history of reparations following mass violence and reparations that have worked in post-war settings.

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