This is the 39th episode of 'Facing Justice', a series of weekly TV reports about the proceedings in the second Khmer Rouge trial. A total of 16 new programs have been sponsored by USAID (the US Agency for International Development) in a two-year project aimed at aiding National Reconciliation. Episodes 38 to 43 are covering the 'Closing Statements'. Later episodes will be reporting when the verdicts are announced, likely to be early in the New Year. In this 39th episode, the Facing Justice presenters talk to a mixed group of Cambodians in Kandal province one week before the all-important presentations of 'Closing Statements' in court. The aim was to elicit views and perceptions about the trial so far, its successes and failures, and its importance to the Cambodian population at large.
In what is known as ‘Case 002′, two leading members of the Khmer Rouge regime (in power from 1975 to 1979) are accused of numerous counts of international crimes, including Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes. The trial, held under the auspices of the ECCC (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia) is currently taking place in a courtroom just outside Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. The court is a hybrid tribunal which applies both International and Cambodian law to try the alleged crimes of the defendants – Nuon Chea (‘Brother Number Two’), Khieu Samphan (Head of State). Ieng Thirith (Social Affairs Minister) was declared unfit to stand trial early in the proceedings. Ieng Sary (Foreign Minister) who was also facing charges died midway through the proceedings.
‘Facing Justice’, shown on Cambodia’s top TV channel (CTN), presents a summary of the courtroom’s highlights. In addition, the show provides straightforward explanations to help its 85% rural audience understand the complex legal issues likely to arise as this important trial proceeds. Partners in the project include KMF (Khmer Mekong Films), and AIJI (Asian International Justice Initiative), a joint project of the East-West Center in Honolulu, HI, and the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University. The USAID programs will later be screened in villages across the country – used as outreach material to aid national reconciliation. Previous sponsors of ‘Facing Justice’ were the US Department of State and the German Embassy, Phnom Penh. The trial of Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch (head of the Khmer Rouge S-21 interrogation center), was covered by 27 similar TV programs, 'Time for Justice' and 'Duch on Trial', sponsored by the British Embassy in Phnom Penh.
Episodes 1-27 of 'Facing Justice' were sponsored by the US Department of State. Episodes 28-34 were sponsored by the British Embassy, Phnom Penh. Episodes 34 onwards were sponsored by the German Embassy, Phnom Penh. Episode 38 was sponsored by Khmer Mekong Films. Episode 39-55 were sponsored by USAID in a two-year project aimed at aiding National Reconciliation. The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for over 50 years. For more information about USAID and its programs, please visit http://www.usaid.gov(link is external).