Ms SOU Sotheavy Receive David Kato Vision and Voice Award

Ms SOU Sotheavy received the “David Kato Vision & Voice Award” for individuals
who uphold the Sexual Rights of LGBTI People around the world, on
on 14 February 2014. The Award commemorates the life of David Kato to individuals who demonstarte courage and outstanding leadership in advocating for the sexual rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, particularly in environments where these individuals face continued rejection, marginalization, isolation and persecution.

Ms SOU Sotheavy, among others,  was awarded for her courage to
submit her Civil Party application to the ECCC and to testify before the
ECCC. Her application  was the first one, explicitly  for sexual and
gender-based crimes before the ECCC and contributed to awareness about
these crimes and resulted at least in charging the accused persons with
forced marriage, a serious crime which was not included in the
investigations from the beginning onwards but was later investigated
BECAUSE  survivors of these crimes urged the Court to investigate. Ms
SOU Sotheavy was herself also a victim of forced marriage, like the
woman to which she was married.

Most of her transgendered friends were raped and killed during the KR
but SOU Sotheavy  undertook the courageous steps to get crimes against
LGBTI people recognized and helped that they are not forgotten.

We are proud of her to go straight forward despite a lot of resistance
and prejudices against LGBTI people and to raise awareness about
discrimination and severe crimes against them. She fought her entire
life for  the rights of LGBTI people,  their recognition and fought
against sexual violence in general and in particular against people with
a variety of sexual orientations. Getting this award will help her in
her work but is also a great recognition of her work and commitment for
the cause and will be a great model for others world wide  to continue
the fight for LGBTI rights and against any sexual or other forms of

Thanks Sotheavy and deepest/best congratulations

For more information on the David Kato Award.

Answering the call for justice

Thu, 31 October 2013 – Phnom Penh Post – 

It was some 22 years before today’s final closing arguments in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Case 002/01 that Craig Etcheson first began lobbying the US government to investigate the crimes of the regime’s most senior surviving members.

Back then, there was no Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia, no Khmer Rouge archives and, as he tells it, not much in the way of paved roads either.

Over the course of the intervening decades, however, Etcheson co-wrote and secured the passage of the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act in the US Congress, co-founded the resulting Cambodian Genocide Program and served as the chief investigator of the fledgling tribunal’s Office of the Co-Prosecutor.

Though no one person can be said to be responsible for the Khmer Rouge’s leaders being brought to justice – least of all Etcheson, as he is careful to note – Etcheson’s work was undeniably important in getting the effort under way.

Since those days, however, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia has gone through scandals and scrapes of every stripe, weathering accusations of corruption, foot-dragging, government meddling and disdain for defendants’ rights, in addition to perennial budget woes – budget woes that cost Etcheson his job in June 2012, when his department was eliminated from the Office of the Co-Prosecutor.

Even though the court today will finish closing arguments in the first segment of its flagship case, Case 002, proceedings are still far from over.

The process has outlived its estimated three-year duration by four years, and even outlived one of its defendants, Ieng Sary.

Another defendant, Sary’s wife, Ieng Thirith, was found unfit to stand trial due to advanced dementia, and the two remaining defendants – Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan – are both in their 80s.

However, despite all its flaws – of which Etcheson admits there were many – after returning to Cambodia to watch the closing arguments in Case 002/01, things have still gone surprisingly well, he says.

“I anticipated a lot of confusion and misunderstanding, and that anticipation has proved correct,” Etcheson said. “I expected that the biggest problem was going to be able to get people to just talk to one another, not even to mention understand each other. But in the end, I think it’s gone better than I anticipated.”

What he may not have anticipated in the early days was just how difficult it would be to gather evidence, a job that was easier said than done and, at times, “dangerous and scary”.

Nonetheless, in his work for the CGP and the Documentation Center of Cambodia, Etcheson spent years “interviewing everybody we could get our hands on”.

Through an initiative called the Mass Grave Mapping Project, Etcheson and his team found about 200 Khmer Rouge security centres, and some 20,000 mass graves.

The research “ultimately became inputs to the trial process”, and were followed up on and verified by the court’s Office of the Co-Investigating Judges.

In 2006, one year after the agreement to establish the Khmer Rouge tribunal went into effect, Etcheson left DC-Cam – having already resigned from the CGP in 1997 – and became lead investigator for then-international co-prosecutor Robert Petit while establishing the Office of the Co-Prosecutors.

The court’s problems began almost immediately.

“There was a tremendous amount of misunderstanding and distrust between the government and a lot of their international interlocutors over the course of the negotiating process,” Etcheson said of the court’s structuring.

Though the structural decision-making was “way above [his] pay grade”, Etcheson was there observing the process all the way through.

According to Etcheson, the negotiations ultimately yielded some ambivalent decisions, such as establishing the court in Cambodia along a “hybrid” international-national scheme, which gave citizens an opportunity to see justice done, but also resulted in delays and higher costs.

There were also, he maintained, some very “messy” decisions, enough fodder for “three or four books”.

Perhaps the single greatest misstep, however, was basing the court on the civil law system, in which the court’s indictment is ultimately investigated and written by investigating judges, rather than prosecutors, he said.

That and the system’s potential for near-endless re-arguing of issues, meant that the court had already spent roughly a third of its estimated three-year lifespan simply compiling the charges.

“An indictment isn’t prepared one time, it’s prepared three times,” Etcheson said.



“The prosecutor then is charged to carry an indictment into court that he didn’t prepare, and may or may not agree with, and that, believe me, introduces all sorts of excitement. In a trial of this complexity, scores and scores of issues are litigated, but they’re not litigated once or twice or three times, but often in quadruplicate.

“This is all to say that these and other features of the civil law system, especially for cases as complex as this, just create unnecessary layers of duplication and time consumption, which is especially important in a case where you have geriatric defendants who are liable to die off on you before the process has reached finality.”

Though Etcheson declined to delve into the prosecution’s problems with the documents, many of which are confidential, he said, “suffice it to say that the co-prosecutors were not entirely happy with the closing order”.

The problems and delays created by the use of the civil law system were almost compounded by the severance of the closing order into smaller, discreet sub-trials, a decision that had the effect of endlessly stretching out an even smaller number of charges, he said.

The decision to break such a huge trial into manageable pieces was perfectly understandable, Etcheson noted, but with defendants getting ever older and more infirm, “I think they may have also underestimated how long it would take to get through even a piece of it”. “So that now, years on into Case 002, with the majority of the allegations still not tried, the defendants are getting older and older and expiring, from one cause or another, from the process, and the donors are showing advanced signs of fatigue,” he continued.

“And so for all those victims, and anyone interested in the larger goals of justice, that was an opportunity lost.

“I fear we’re in danger of a similar lost opportunity here.”

There have been other problems too, according to Etcheson. He characterised the defence’s insistence on dredging up politics as obstructionist, but echoed their stance that the court’s failure to call witnesses in the current government – such as National Assembly President Heng Samrin – was “unfortunate,” albeit for different reasons.

“They would have been the deadliest possible witnesses against those guys,” he said.

Either way, he continued, the failure to call them did undermine the court’s legacy as a model of impartiality to Cambodia’s domestic courts, “and that’s problematic”.

The civil law system’s reliance on investigating judges also resulted in some less-than-satisfactory methods in the investigation phase, a process of the tribunal that the defence has long sought to impugn, but which they have not been allowed to discuss in court.

For example, co-investigators flatly refused to provide exact transcripts of interviews with potential witnesses, instead offering only written summaries known as a proces verbal, summaries that the defence has criticised as being selective and biased. The incomplete summaries also served to make the prosecution’s job more difficult, Etcheson said.

“What is perhaps not generally recognised is that the prosecutors have had a lot of issues with various aspects of the way the system has functioned as well,” he said, noting that, nonetheless, they didn’t “rise to the level of meriting a mistrial”.

But despite all the shortcomings, Etcheson said, it would be reductive to write off the court as hopeless, adding that it was surprising enough that it ever came into being in the first place.

“If you were here in the early days, there was great doubt that we were ever going to see the inside of a courtroom, and indeed we did,” he said. “The Duch trial went reasonably well, and if you’ve been sitting and watching what’s going on in the courtroom over the last year, hey, it looks like a trial.”

What’s more, he added, even the subject of the tribunal’s legacy as a model to domestic courts – which has long been an object of scepticism among observers – isn’t beyond saving.

The court has already single-handedly introduced the idea of jurisprudence to Cambodia, Etcheson said, and even if Cambodian judges’ behaviour isn’t currently “like something you would see in Geneva, Switzerland,” the lessons will need time to gestate.

“Twice in the last two weeks, the gallery in the courtroom has been almost completely filled with students from the Cambodian School of the Magistracy, Cambodia’s training ground for future judges, investigating judges and other court personnel,” he said.

“They were watching what was going on with rapt attention. I can’t believe this will have zero influence on how they think and act over the course of their careers.”

After two weeks of closing statements, Etcheson also reflected a little on his own legacy, both the good and the bad.

For all the nit-picking, he said, the court has gone largely as it should. The prosecution managed to pull together the threads of a wildly complex case, the civil parties delivered an “eloquent” summation of victims’ suffering, the defence understandably highlighted the problems in the process, and the judges kept their professionalism throughout.

However, he added, there is “a regret that this has taken so long, and that some of our contestants are no longer here to participate”.

And given the delays, he said, “it will be quite surprising if this court winds up finally trying all of the allegations, and if they don’t, that will be a serious blemish”.

All the same, he continued, it would still take time for him to “sort through what it all adds up to”.

“I haven’t come to rest on that yet, and the process has yet to run its course, so that remains to be seen.”

But if the chamber, two years from now, is hearing closing arguments in Case 002/02, he added, “I’ll be here”.

Victims in limelight on day of ‘justice’

Buddhist monks attend the first day of closing arguments at the Khmer Rouge tribunal. AFP

Thu, 17 October 2013 – Phnom Penh Post – 

Behind the thick windows of the Khmer Rouge tribunal trial chamber, before a gallery packed with students, monks, observers and villagers, civil party lawyers yesterday opened closing arguments in Case 002/01 with a lengthy and impassioned indictment of the trial’s co-defendants, often borrowing the words of their very victims.

Over the course of some six hours, the representatives systematically rebutted defendants’ claims made throughout the trial, taking liberally from testimony by civil parties themselves, and even at times pointing the finger directly at Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan during the day in which – as lead co-lawyer Elisabeth Simonneau-Fort put it – the victims were “in the limelight”.

“In a trial, defendants have rights, and quite rightly so,” Simonneau-Fort said. “Today, we are living a key moment in international justice, and it’s a very important moment in the trial as well, because for an entire day it is the victims who are in the limelight. It is their rights that are fundamental, that are being highlighted and protected.”

That limelight was first cast on the stories of those who suffered in the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh – and the evacuations that followed, as people were shifted around the country like pieces of equipment – movements that stemmed from an overarching Khmer Rouge policy drafted with input from Chea and Samphan, lawyer Hong Kim Suon argued.

“Once the [Communist Party of Kampuchea] gained full control of Cambodian territory with the fall of Phnom Penh and other provincial capitals to their troops, they uniformly applied a policy of forced evacuations from urban areas to rural cooperatives,” Kim Suon said.

“In addition to the suffering and harm experienced by victims because of the forced transfers … the massive scale of the redistribution of the population and the lack of planning and coordination by the CPK resulted in famine, disease and death at the destination points,” he continued.

Sam Sokon continued to present the defendants with stories pulled from civil party testimony, such as that of a Cambodian man whose ethnic Vietnamese wife and six children were murdered as “enemies of the state”, and accused even Samphan – who has long maintained he was nothing but a figurehead – of inciting such acts.

“Khieu Samphan, in his capacity as head of state, induced for action against the enemies of the state,” Sokon said. “He said in the Revolutionary Flag [magazine] that actions had to be carried out at all levels.”

The accusations reached a crescendo as civil party lawyer Christine Martineau dug into her statement, which she delivered directly to the accused, at times confronting them with their own words and accusing them of deceiving the court and their victims.

“Mr Khieu Samphan, you pose as a victim of the regime you belonged to for many years,” Martineau said. “Your goal during that regime was to save your own life, and you succeeded by the way . . . [but], Mr Khieu Samphan, be realistic. The facts are there. You are before a court. When we listen to the civil parties, we see that you are more than a puppet president.

“[Both of] you followed Pol Pot to his last days,” she continued. “Who do you think you would convince by evading your true responsibilities?… You use your preferred weapons – secrecy, deceit – to protect yourselves.”

It was in the afternoon session that the theme of civil party participation – its aims, and the difficulties faced in even implementing it – was summed up by lead co-lawyer Simonneau-Fort.

“This trial is perhaps not exactly what we wanted it to be,” Simonneau-Fort said. “We have lost two accused, months have gone by, and we have lost victims and civil parties.

“So these proceedings may make it impossible to try other facts than the forced transfer and [the execution site at] Tuol Po Chrey,” she continued, alluding to the defendants’ advanced age. “They’re a kind of risk we willingly accepted to take, and as I see it, we were right to do so.”

UN Report Says 1 in 5 Cambodian Men Have Raped

By Simon Henderson – Cambodia Daily – September 11, 2013


More than 1 in 5 Cambodian men aged between 18 and 49 admit to having raped a woman, and more than half committed their first rape before the age of 20, according to a U.N. report released Tuesday that reveals a culture of violence against women across the Asia-Pacific region.

In the first study of its kind, male interviewers surveyed more than 10,000 men and a smaller number of women in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indo­nesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea to determine the prevalence of physical and sexual violence against women and the reasons behind it.

In Cambodia, which was the only country in the region besides Sri Lanka where the statistics show a national average, 20.8 percent of 1,863 men interviewed admitted to having raped a woman, while 15.8 percent of those who admitted to having committed rape did so under the age of 15.

“The young age of first perpetration highlights that working with young boys in rape prevention is imperative,” the report says.

“Research suggests that the key factors associated with the perpetration of intimate partner violence include poverty, a low level of education, witnessing abuse at home, exposure to childhood trauma, alcohol abuse, anti-social personality disorder, attitudes that are accepting of violence, relationship discord and having multiple partners,” it states.

Results for each country varied considerably across the region, from 9.5 percent of men in urban Bangladesh admitting to having committed rape, to 62 percent on Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville Island, while prevalence of different types of rape and violence, from partner-rape to non-partner rape and gang rape, also differed depending on the country.

Significantly, Cambodia was also unusual in the region for men reporting more sexual violence against an intimate partner than physical violence, while gang rape—known as “bauk” in Khmer—was shown to be a particular problem in Cambodia.

According to the report, Cambodia is the only country where rape by multiple perpetrators was the most common form of non-partner rape.

“Gang rape was the least common form of rape except in Cambodia, where it was more common than non-partner rape by a perpetrator acting alone,” the report says. It adds that 49 percent of all men interviewed in Cambodia have had sex with a sex worker or paid for sex.

Rape is covered by Cambodia’s Penal Code and legislation on domestic violence was passed in 2005 with the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of Victims. However, marital rape is not specifically illegal under any law, which may reflect wider cultural perceptions about what is permissible within the bounds of marriage, the report says.

Although Cambodia’s attempts to punish offenders compares favorably to other countries—almost 50 percent of those admitting to rape were arrested, and 28.3 percent faced some jail time—44 percent still faced no legal consequences.

Importantly, jail sentences do not seem to affect the prevalence of sexual or physical violence against women in the countries where it is most endemic—Papua New Guinea, for example, has the highest rate of custodial sentencing, yet is the country overwhelmingly most rife with rape.

Therefore, the authors of the report, which took four years to draft, decided to try and understand men’s motivations and attitudes toward violence against women, their personal and cultural prejudices—and to a lesser extent females’ own attitudes to gender—in order to get to the un­derlying causes of sexual violence against women.

“[M]en reported that they raped because they wanted to and felt entitled to, felt it was entertaining or saw it as deserved punishment for women,” the report said.

The most common motivation men cite for rape is the belief that they have a right to sex with women regardless of consent, with 45 percent of Cambodian men believing they were entitled to sex irrespective of it being a partner or non-partner.

The survey also came up with other surprising results.

Alcohol, which is often presumed to be a factor in causing men who otherwise would not act violently to rape, was actually the least common reason given by men for committing rape.

In Cambodia, only 14 percent of men gave this as a reason, compared to 42 percent citing anger or punishment and 27 percent saying either fun or boredom was the motivation.

The report also claims to reflect social patterns of gender inequality and attitudes by both sexes toward gender that promotes a culture of male dominance over women. In Cambodia in particular, both men and women gave opinions that reinforced gender roles, according to the report.

Though about 95 percent of Cambodian males and females responded that men and women should be treated equally, female respondents overwhelmingly said that they felt in some way responsible for or should tolerate the acts of violence against them.

Asked whether there are times when a woman deserves to be beaten, 32.8 percent of 620 Cam­bodian women interviewed believed there was, compared with 27.8 percent of men; 67 percent of women—the highest of any country surveyed—be­lieved a woman should tolerate violence to keep a family together, compared to 59.8 percent of men.

What’s more, female attitudes to the act of rape itself reveal a worrying ignorance of the principle of consent—81.7 percent of Cambodian women answered that if a woman does not physically fight back it is not rape, compared with 65.1 percent of men who think the same.

The report also details other, non-physical forms of intimidation and emotional abuse against women including insults, humiliation, aggression, threats of violence and economic abuse such as withholding a woman’s pay.

“Overall, 87 percent of men interviewed believe that to be man you need to be tough. Con­nected to this, we found that men who used violence against an intimate partner were more likely to be controlling over their partners, have multiple sexual partners, have transactional sex and be involved in gangs and fights with weapons,” said Emma Fulu, one of the report’s authors.

Chuon Chamrong, head of the women and children rights program at Adhoc, said part of the reason rape was so high was a lack of law enforcement and high levels of impunity.

“We are dealing with many issues here in Cambodia as to why these things happen. One point is law enforcement, which is limited in Cambodia, creating a culture of impunity that makes it okay for people to commit these crimes. Another is about a lack of education and moral instruction regarding sexuality. And obviously poverty, which leads people to leave their families and homes to places where they are not familiar,” she said.

“And then we must question the culture of pornography especially in rural areas, where uneducated young people have access to these videos that creates the impression that this is permissible.”

Lieutenant General Kirth Chantharith, spokesman for the National Police, said that he would only comment on specific cases of rape and could not speak about why there was so much rape taking place in the country.

“I can’t speak in general. I can only speak about individual cases and then we can talk about particular reasons,” he said.

Reparation Measures for Khmer Rouge Victims Approved

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer, 22 June 2013

WASHINGTON DC – The Cambodian government has approved collective reparations for victims of the Khmer Rouge who have taken part in atrocity crimes trials at UN-backed tribunal.Reparations will include a national commemoration day, the preservation of crime sites, and the construction of a museum, library and monument, according to a letter obtained by VOA Khmer.The request was made to Prime Minister Hun Sen by lawyers for civil party participants at the tribunal, Elisabeth Simonneau Fort and Ang Pich.

In it, they ask that May 20 be set aside as a day of commemoration, and that historical Khmer Rouge documents be incorporated into school curriculum from grades 7 through 12, as well as in higher education.

In response, Hun Sen approved the request, which was then approved by the Council of Ministers. Subdecrees will be issued to relevant ministries and authorities to carry out the request, according to official documents.

Court observers cautiously welcomed the initiative.

Nushin Sarkarati, a legal official at the Center for Justice and Accountability, said the tribunal also must consider the needs of victims as it decides on atrocity crimes cases.

“Therefore, the court must consider, what are the harms that victims of forced evacuation have endured?” she said. “How are these harms continuing today? An adequate reparation would address these questions and provide some measure of redress and reparative justice for the victims.

Many of the victims continue to suffer from physical and psychological pain as a result of Khmer Rouge atrocities, she said. “An adequate reparation would be both medical and mental health services to address these continuing harms.”

Education and memorialization have been requested by victims who “continue to search for answers,” she said. “These reparations will help address that need.”

Ear Sophal, a Cambodian-American scholar and author of “Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy.” He filed his own complaint at the court and said he will wait to see the details of the reparations. For example, it remains to be seen how Khmer Rouge documents will be taught in school, he said.

“If an organization like the Documentation Center of Cambodia were to review this and put its stamp of approval on it, then I would agree that it would be at least independently reviewed,” he said.

The preservation of Khmer Rouge crime sites would be better than selling them off to private companies, he said.

However, the reparations, including the date of a commemoration day, must not be politicized by authorities or the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, he said. “It’s very important that this be a date for the victims, and not for political purposes.”

May 20 is already marked as a “Day of Anger” for the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge, celebrated generally by the CPP and its supporters.

Ear Sophal, who lost his father and brother to the regime, also admitted that reparations are a tricky matter. Clear justice from the courts, without politics or corruption, would be a step in the right direction, he said.

Other complainants, like Khmer Rouge survivor Sum Rithy, say these initiatives should also include personal reparations to each victim. That could be something like a certificate clearing them of crimes levied by the Khmer Rouge, he told VOA Khmer.

Meanwhile, the court continues in its atrocity crimes trial of senior leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, who have been charged with war crimes, including genocide.

Any decision on reparations made by the court would come after the conclusion of that trial. A tribunal spokesman said a verdict could be reached in that case in the first quarter of 2014.