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Cambodia: Tribunal Handles 500+ Victims Complaints

UN-backed tribunal processing over 500 Khmer Rouge victims' complaints

7 February 2008 - The United Nations-backed tribunal trying Khmer Rouge leaders accused of mass killings and other crimes is currently processing and responding to more than 500 complaints submitted by Cambodians on crimes which took place three decades ago.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which has been operational since July 2006, received most of these complaints since last October.

Most of them come from people who have been aware of their right to take part in the Court's process through the efforts of civil society organizations.

"Information received from victims is crucial to our success," said Robert Petit, one of the ECCC's co-prosecutors. "The Court is lucky that so many people have come forward and submitted complaints, because it gives us a lot of information to work with."

The complaints have all been scanned, processed and analyzed, and will be sent to the Co-Investigating Judges for use in their current investigations.

Co-Prosecutors will determine whether the complaints warrant new investigations.

Where information is missing in the complaints, the Court will contact those who submitted them to fill in the gaps. Currently, one-fifth of the more than 500 complaints are lacking some key information.

"The ECCC is the first court in the history of international criminal law to offer victims full participation in the proceedings, and everyone at the Court is working hard to ensure that this participation is meaningful for them," said Gabriela Gonzalez Rivas, the Deputy Head of the Victims Unit.

She added that it is crucial that the ECCC give each complaint the "careful, individual attention it deserves."

Under an agreement signed by the UN and Cambodia, the ECCC was set up as an independent court using a mixture of Cambodian staff and judges and foreign personnel. It is designated to try those deemed most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979.

ENDS

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