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paRTIcIpaTION IN Eccc pROcEEdINGS Based on the survey, none of the respondents reported having been contacted by any organization to participate in ECCC proceedings. On the other hand, 2 percent of respondents reported knowing how to participate in ECCC proceedings. As of November 6, 2008, the Victims Unit of the ECCC had received 2,500 forms. About one-third of these forms were from individuals who wished to participate as a civil party against at least one of the accused, 80 while the remainder were from individuals lodging complaints against the various five defendants. This means that less than 1 percent of the population has been contacted by the ECCC or nongovernmental organizations.

The questionnaire further asked those respondents in what capacity they can participate in ECCC proceedings. Among those who knew how to participate, over one-third (42%) said they could actively participate by filing a complaint with a nongovernmental organization (21%) or with the court (21%). About one in five said they could participate as witnesses (21%) or attend official hearings/ proceedings (18%). Fewer said they could simply visit the court (11%) or did not know (8%). Despite the lack of contacts and knowledge on how to participate, over half the respondents (52%) wanted to personally participate in ECCC proceedings, given the opportunity. This is consistent with most respondents’ desire to know more about the Khmer Rouge and expectations that the court will find the truth. Respondents who lived under the Khmer Rouge were slightly less frequently willing to participate in the proceedings (51%) compared to those who did not (54%).

80 As of the end of November, 34 civil parties were accepted.

A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes about Social Reconstruction and the Extraordinary Chambers In the Courts of Cambodia


When asked generally what should be done for victims of the Khmer Rouge regime and their families, 26 percent stated that support for agriculture and farming should be provided, 23 percent mentioned social services such as health care and counseling, 22 percent mentioned financial support, and 17 percent asked that those who were responsible for the violence be punished. Other symbolic gestures, such as apologies (3%) and providing justice (2%), were also mentioned.

–  –  –

The Internal Rules of the ECCC note that reparations, if granted, will be collective, symbolic, and moral and non-financial in nature.81 Symbolic reparations could include erecting statues, building memorials, renaming public facilities, establishing days of remembrance, expunging criminal records, exhuming bodies, issuing declarations of death, and conducting reburials.

–  –  –

81 See “Internal Rules (rev. 2),” rule 23.

43 SO WE WILL NEVER FORGET Most respondents (88%) believe it is important to provide symbolic reparations to victims of the Khmer Rouge. Only 26 percent of respondents said they would accept it if no reparations were paid to the victims or their families. Those who did not live under the Khmer Rouge were less likely to accept that no reparations be provided compared to those who lived under the KR. However, the majority (68%) said that reparations should be provided to a community as a whole and about 20 percent believed it should be provided to both the communities and individuals alike. Interestingly, only 11 percent of respondents believe that reparations should be provided to individuals only. Furthermore, those who lived under the Khmer Rouge regime were more likely to prefer community reparations than those who did not.

When asked specifically what kind of reparations should be provided, 20 percent of respondents indicated that social services such as health service, education, and psychological counseling should be provided to victims. Fifteen percent mentioned infrastructure and 12 percent economic measures. Less than 10 percent recommended a memorial, day of commemoration, public events, and museums as symbolic measures.

With regard to who should pay for reparations, 64 percent stated the government, 22 percent said the perpetrators (KR leaders), 10 percent said the international community, 3 percent said the community, 2 percent mentioned nongovernmental organizations, 1 percent mentioned the ECCC, and 1 percent specifically stated foreign countries that supported the Khmer Rouge.

–  –  –

A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes about Social Reconstruction and the Extraordinary Chambers In the Courts of Cambodia


Our principal findings are summarized as follows:

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.


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 A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes about Social Reconstruction and the Extraordinary Chambers In the Courts of Cambodia 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.

• 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.

A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes about Social Reconstruction and the Extraordinary Chambers In the Courts of Cambodia


• 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.

A follow-up workshop could focus on how to provide victims and their families a voice in the process of determining the most appropriate reparations and how to deliver reparations in an effective manner.

• Develop a comprehensive plan for promoting discussion in communities where tensions between former Khmer Rouge members and the general population are known to be high. The survey data suggest that a degree of unspoken hostility lingers in some Cambodian communities over the crimes of the Khmer Rouge. Studies in other post-war settings indicate trials can further divide communities that have not reconciled their differences. To mitigate the possibility of escalating tensions, community-based discussion should be held before and after ECCC judges render their verdicts.


• Conduct a major review and overhaul of the national criminal justice system that integrates the judicial legacy of the ECCC, ends corruption, and institutes transparency, accountability, and efficacy. The survey data are clear: Cambodians have little faith in their criminal justice system.

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