By Silke Studzinsky, Former International Counsel for Civil Parties before the ECCC
The new severance order determining the scope of the case 002/02 eventually gives victims of sexual crimes a voice. This is coming late. These crimes could and should have already been part of case 002/01. Nevertheless, the victims of these crimes welcome this step very much.
- The huge number of civil parties admitted because of the crime of forced marriage are now becoming part of this trial. They represent the second biggest group of civil parties in case 002.
- In addition, the victims of forced marriage who did not apply as civil parties will benefit from the inclusion of forced marriage as a crime against humanity, which was committed countrywide.
- This is a late but crucial recognition that this policy is more than only about marriage: It is a crime. It is rape, ordered through a third party, sexual enslavement and, forced marriage as another inhuman act. It violates the right to sexual self-determination of many, many Cambodian women and men and the right to freely choose a spouse. Until today, this crime has a huge impact on Cambodian society as a whole, on the direct victims and their families and communities, on the children born within these marriages and their children.
- It is noteworthy that the Trial Chamber also included into the scope of the next trial the few rape incidents outside of the context of forced marriage. This is an important step forward. Still, according to the Co-investigating Judges, the accused are not to be held liable for these rapes because the accused allegedly prosecuted or/and punished the perpetrators although the evidence demonstrates the contrary. Nevertheless, these facts are now before the Trial Chamber in case 002/02 and will now be legally characterized.
- The legal characterization of these rapes will be another challenge in this case. The Trial Chamber departed from its previous conclusions in the judgment in case 001 and considers now that these rapes may qualify “only” as other inhumane acts under crimes against humanity and not as rape as a listed crime.
To conclude, the new severance order concerning sexual crimes is promising but requires still a committed engagement to achieve a full reflection of the gravity and seriousness of sexual crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge.
The Civil Parties are very proud that both forced marriages and rapes outside the context of forced marriage are included into case 002/02.
Only through them and their strong commitment, these crimes became part of the proceedings.
The Hague, The Netherlands, 8 April 2014