The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Strässer, issued the following statement today (7 August) on the verdict announced in the second case before the Khmer Rouge tribunal:
This verdict sends an important message to the victims of the Khmer Rouge terror. The impunity and lack of rights that weighed heavily on them has now been successfully countered by the power of justice and the rule of law. The verdict is also an encouraging sign that joint efforts to end impunity are worthwhile. Cambodia, together with the United Nations, has taken a significant step on the path to inner reconciliation by establishing the Khmer Rouge tribunal. The German Government has provided substantial financial means and personnel to support the endeavours to come to terms with the past. In light of the advanced age of the perpetrators, it is crucial that the remaining proceedings be brought to a swift conclusion.
Nuon Chea, Pol Pot’s deputy during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, and former head of state Khieu Samphan have been sentenced to life in prison for crimes in connection with the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh.
A third defendant, Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, died while on trial, in March 2013; his widow, Ieng Thirith, the former Minister of Social Affairs, was deemed unfit to stand trial in September 2012. In the first case before the tribunal, the former chief warden of the torture prison S-21 was sentenced to life in prison in February 2012; this verdict is non-appealable.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal (officially the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, ECCC) is processing the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. Over 1.7 million people died from execution, torture, starvation or forced labour. Following ten years of negotiations, the tribunal was established under an international agreement between the Cambodian Government and the United Nations that entered into force in 2005.
Since then, Germany has supported the tribunal by providing over 17 million euros in funding.