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Conflict-Related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Against Women and Girls

Speech Delivered at the Women’s Hearing, Phnom Penh, October 10-11 2012.

Good morning dear distinguished panel members, participants, survivors and guests. I am very honored to have been invited to the Women’s Hearing in Phnom Penh for the second time – this year focusing not only on Cambodia but also the Asia-Pacific Region more broadly. Continue reading

Panel Statement for Asia-Pacific Regional Women’s Hearing on Gender-Based Violence in Conflict

Held on 10 and 11 October, 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The Asia-Pacific Regional Women’s Hearing on Gender-Based Violence in Conflict took  place at the Ecumenical Diakonia Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 10 and 11 October 2012. It was organized by the Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP) in partnership with the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization Cambodia (TPO) and Victim Support Section of the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The Women’s Hearing was open to the public and was attended by representatives from the Royal Government of Cambodia, representatives of the ECCC, Civil Parties to the ECCC, the United Nations (UN), international and local non- government organizations (NGOs), civil society and university faculty and students. Continue reading

Tribunal Still Has an Opportunity to Address Sexual Violence

By Sin Soworn and Silke Studzinsky , 27 June 2012

Dear Editor,

As counsel for civil parties, we welcome the statement of the ECCC’s Trial Chamber, dated June 5, on the importance of addressing sexual violence in international(ised) courts and tribunals.

We fully agree that at this stage of the proceedings, there is no prospect of the Trial Chamber expanding the indictment with regard to sexual violence under the Khmer Rouge regime, as a matter of law.

But it’s not too late for the Trial Chamber to prioritise the cases of sexual violence, such as forced marriage and some cases of rape outside the context of forced marriage.

The Trial Chamber has severed the cases, and currently only charges relating to the first two forced transfers are being tried in Case 002/01.

The Office of the Co-Prosecutors, and many observers, believe this first trial will be the last trial, given the age of the accused and the expected length of the hearing.

The Trial Chamber always has the authority and discretion to include the charges of forced marriage. We note that 781 civil parties are admitted as direct or indirect victims of forced marriage in Case 002/01 – this victim composition being the second-largest, after those admitted on the basis of forced transfer from Phnom Penh.

Likewise, the Trial Chamber has the discretion and authority to include the few cases of rape that are, according to the recently disclosed preliminary findings of the co-prosecutors, part of the widespread commission of rape and sexual violence.

The Trial Chamber also has the power and function to re-characterise the liability findings in the closing order in accordance with the facts disclosed by the evidence during proceedings.

Therefore, responding to the invitation by the Trial Chamber, which “continues to welcome constructive suggestions that can assist in ensuring that crimes of sexual violence during the Khmer Rouge era are appropriately treated in its work that remains”, we appeal to it to expand the charges in Case 002/01 to forced marriage and rape cases outside the context of forced marriage.

By doing so, the Trial Chamber could demonstrate that sexual crimes are properly addressed at the ECCC.

This will enable appropriate weight to sexual crimes to be addressed by the Trial Chamber and does not override, or compete with, non-judicial measures such as the successful Women’s Hearing that was held in December last year.

Instead, it would clearly demonstrate that the Trial Chamber pays the requisite attention to sexual crimes perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge.

The Trial Chamber has mentioned that “The ECCC also possesses unique mechanisms to enable victims to seek reparation, and victims of sexual violence are included among the consolidated group of civil parties admitted to participate in Case 002.”

We wish to clarify that, despite the fact that all civil parties continue to be members of the consolidated group, currently only civil parties who suffered harm arising from the current charges (the two forced transfers) are eligible for reparation.

Civil parties who are victims of forced marriage and other sexual crimes cannot request reparation linked to their specific suffering derived from sexual crimes, because those crimes are not part of case 002/01.

As a matter of law, any requests for reparation as a result of sexual crimes have to be rejected by the Trial Chamber in accordance with the internal rules.

Sin Soworn
National counsel for civil parties
Silke Studzinky
International counsel for civil parties

Tribunal Has Failed Victims of Sex Crimes

By Sin Soworn and Silke Studzinsky, Phnom Penh Post 11 June 2012

Dear editor,

We wish to clarify several points raised in a letter to the editor by ECCC international co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley, QC that was published in the Post on June 1.

  1. Since the beginning of the preliminary investigations by co-prosecutors, subsequently continued by the co-investigating judges tasked with the introductory submission, there has been a clear failure to prioritise sexual crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge regime.
  2. The only reference in the first introductory submission to sexual crimes was a mention in a mapping report by the Documentation Centre of Cambodia of rapes committed against women who had been marked out to be killed at Prey Trapeang Ampil.
    It remained unclear, however, whether these rapes were committed within the temporal jurisiction of the court, and the introductory submission does not address the widespread nature of these rapes or other sexual acts.
  3. It may be true, but is not to our knowledge, as Cayley asserts, that the office of the co-prosecutors “determined that rape and other crimes of sexual violence were perpetrated on a widespread basis during the Democratic Kampuchea regime”.
    But it is surprising that, if a preliminary finding was made by the office of the co-prosecutors that rapes and sexual violence were widely committed under the Khmer Rouge regime, these facts have not ultimately been included in the prosecution’s introductory submission.
  4. The fact that Kaing Guek Eav was prosecuted for rape is based solely on his admission during the Case 001 proceedings of one instance of rape. This rape was not known about until Kaing Guek Eav mentioned it while being interviewed by the co-investigating judges.
  5. Other instances of rape that were mentioned by other witnesses in Case 001 were not thoroughly investigated and, to our knowledge, there is no evidence on the case file of witnesses in Case 002 being specifically interviewed about sexual crimes outside the context of forced marriages.
  6. Although the office of the co-prosecutors mentioned in its final submission some instances of rape outside the context of forced marriage, the co-investigating judges were not tasked by the office of the prosecutors with the investigation of “widespread rapes”. Consequently, they were not investigated. Investigations by the co-investigating judges or the prosecutors revealed only some cases of sexual violence.
  7. The inclusion of forced marriages in the charges resulted only from civil-party lawyers urging the investigating bodies to draw up a supplementary submission addressing these charges. The charges themselves were not included in the original Introductory submission, and without the efforts of civil parties these crimes would not have been included in the indictment.
  8. It is noteworthy that the submission of the co-prosecutors (E99) on the characterisation of rape contained only a single paragraph requesting the inclusion of sexual violence outside the context of forced marriage.
  9. Although Andrew Cayley states, “The ECCC cannot meet all the needs of these victims. As Margot Wallström advocates, there must be serious consideration of alternative mechanisms to acknowledge crimes of sexual violence”, he does not question why there are no charges of sexual violence included in the Indictment outside the context of forced marriages.
  10. It is evident that, since the beginning of the cases before the ECCC, sexual violence was not part of the prosecutorial strategy. This has been confirmed by Cayley’s predecessor, Robert Petit.
  11. We are wondering whether cases 003 and 004 contain any investigations into, or charges of, sexual crimes. We do not have access to the case files, despite repeated requests to the co-investigating judges.

If the introductory submissions in cases 003 and 004 do not contain sexual crimes, we would recommend that the office of the co-prosecutors submit supplementary investigative requests to the office of the co-investigating judges.

Sexual violence and sexual crimes can be successfully prosecuted only when there is a prosecutorial case strategy and positive willingness from the leadership of the office of the prosecution to include such crimes at the early investigative stages – including provision of proper investigative techniques for such specificity of crimes.

This includes providing gender-balanced investigators and gender-competent staff in the investigatorial processes before any charges can be successfully pursued.

Future prosecutions in any international jurisdiction should include investigation of gender-based crimes at an early stage, pursuant to a high-level prosecutorial strategy, to ensure the victims of such violence are not effectively excluded.

Sin Soworn
National counsel for civil parties
Silke Studzinsky
International counsel for civil parties