Friday, 22 February 2008

Cambodia Prosecutor's Opening Statement

Robert Petit, who is the international prosecutor at the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia, has sent me a copy of his opening statement. I was inquiring as part of research for the second edition of my book, Genocide in International Law, which will be published by Cambridge University Press at the end of this year. Many sources speak of the 'Cambodian genocide' but it has never been very clear that genocide is the appropriate description of the atrocities committed during the 1970s. Crimes against humanity seems closer to reality. So any signals from the prosecutors and judges on this issue are of interest. In fact, Robert's statement doesn't appear to clarify this point. I suspect that they are still reflecting on the matter. There will be enormous pressure to charge genocide, even if the prosecutors and judges come to the conclusion, based on rigorous legal analysis, that it is not appropriate under the circumstances.
Apparently Prosecutor Petit's statement. is not even available on the website of the Chambers, and Robert tells me it is an exclusive to this blog:

1 comment:

Kjell Follingstad Anderson said...

I was just talking about this with Niamh Hayes yesterday. I agree that there will be tremendous pressure to charge genocide at the ECCC. The events in Cambodia are known in common usage as the "Cambodian Genocide" so many people would find charges of crimes against humanity dissatisfactory. There were really three groups targeted in Cambodia: 1) the "New People" (a social/class group), 2) supporters of Lon Nol (a political group), 3)backwards/counterrevolutionary peoples (Vietnamese, Cham, Buddhist clergy - ethnic and religious groups). So from this perspective they could charge genocide if they focus on the Vietnamese and Cham extermination campaigns (but even this would be difficult). But primarily, the mass killing event known as the "Cambodian Genocide" was not actually a genocide under the Genocide Convention.