Local voices in internationalized justice? The experience of civil parties at the ECCC
Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, this project was led by Johanna Herman, who is a Research Fellow at the Centre on Human Rights in Conflict, School of Law and Social Sciences, University of East London. For the first time at an internationalised tribunal, victims of mass atrocity crimes can act as civil parties. The participation of victims at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, known formally as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), is part of a growing recognition of the importance of victims’ rights and involvement in international criminal justice. This project engages directly with the rise of victim participation by examining the specific experiences, expectations and understanding of civil parties in the ECCC. In doing so, it also engages with the circumstances and exigencies that the ECCC has faced in its unprecedented treatment of victims.
Although there have been a number of large-scale quantitative surveys undertaken amongst civil parties, this research focuses on a smaller number of participants and employs a qualitative methodology. This is in order to consider more closely the motivations and concerns of civil parties themselves. Ms. Herman visited Cambodia in October and December 2011 and carried out interviews with representatives of the ECCC, lawyers and NGO staff. The main focus of the research was on 24 interviews with civil parties and complainants from 5 different provinces: Battambang, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, Kampot and Pursat.
Together with the project's research assistant, Ian Patel, Ms. Herman carried out thematic analysis of this data. The data was coded before being arranged into specific themes and sub-themes relating variously to civil parties' reactive attitudes to participation, their opinions about the court's work, and technical understanding of its proceedings. This data analysis was conducted non-prescriptively - that is to say, no pre-defined set of constructs was imposed on the data. Rather, the narratives of civil parties themselves were interpreted at their word. The emphases that civil parties themselves gave to certain experiences and expectations regarding the ECCC were actively reproduced by this project's research. In this way, the research remains faithful to the aim of providing insight into the personal experiences of civil parties.
The overarching themes are: Meaningful Justice; Collective vs Individual Reparations; Values of being a Civil Party; Emotional consequences of application and participation; Challenges from limited time and resources; and Understanding and perception of civil parties regarding the trial and participation.
Ms. Herman presented the initial findings of the project at the 14th International Symposium World Society of Victimology in The Hague on Monday 21 May.
Johanna Herman, Local voices in internationalised justice: The experience of civil parties at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, CHRC Research Report, May 2014.
Johanna Herman, "Realities of victim participation: The civil party system in practice at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)", Contemporary Justice Review, Vol. 16, Iss. 4, (November 2013).
Johanna Herman, “Scratching the surface of Kony 2012: Making Victims Matter”, Huffington Post UK, 18 June 2012
For further information please email Johanna Herman.
The role of hybrid courts in the institutional and substantive development of international criminal justice. A study of the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dr. Olga Martin-Ortega led this research project funded by the British Academy (SG100735). The project analyses the recent institutional development of hybrid courts and the role they play in the development of international criminal law. It does so by focusing on the practice of the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This analysis is undertaken from a national, regional and international perspective. The project ran from September 2010 to March 2012.
The development of the research has included fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina and The Hague.The outputs of the project include the following publications:
- Olga Martin-Ortega, "Prosecuting war crimes at home: lessons from the War Crimes Chamber in the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina", International Criminal Law Review 12 (2012), pp. 589–628
- Olga Martin-Ortega, “Hybrid Tribunals and the Rule of Law: The War Crimes Chamber in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, in Carey, H.F. and Mitchell, S. G., Trials and Tribulations of International Prosecution (Lexington Books, forthcoming, 2012), pp. 205-223.
- Olga Martin-Ortega, “Building peace and delivering justice in Bosnia: the limits of externally driven processes” in Sriram, C.L., Garcia-Godos, J., Herman, J. and Martin-Ortega, O. (eds), Transitional justice and peacebuilding on the ground: Victims and ex-combatants (Oxon: Routledge, October 2012).
- Olga Martin-Ortega and Johanna Herman, “Hybrid Tribunals: interaction and resistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Cambodia” in O. Richmond and A. Mitchell (eds), Hybrid Forms of Peace: From the ‘Everyday’ to Post-liberalism (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011), pp. 73-87.
- Chandra Lekha Sriram, Olga Martin-Ortega and Johanna Herman, “Justice delayed? Internationalised criminal tribunals and peace-building in Lebanon, Bosnia and Cambodia”, Conflict, Security & Development, vol. 11, issue 3, 2011, pp- 335-356.
During the research period the results of the research have been discussed in several academic fora. Dr. Olga Martin-Ortega has presented the following papers on the matter:
- Prosecuting gender based violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina: experiences in the War Crimes Chamber and entity courts” in Gender-based violence in war and the question of accountability: The case of Bosnia, Centre on Human Rights in Conflict Autumn 2011 Seminar Series, School of Law and Social Sciences, University of East London, 9 November 2011
- “The War Crimes Chambers of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina: some lessons”, Prosecuting War Crimes: Lessons and Legacies, War Crimes Studies Department, King’s College London, 30 September 2011.
- “Transitional Justice in Bosnia”, Law and Society, Annual Conference of the Law and Society Association, 2-5 June 2011.
- “The War Crimes Chambers of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina: some lessons for international criminal justice”, 2nd Biennial War Crimes Conference, Justice? – Whose Justice? Punishment, Mediation or Reconciliation?, 3-5 March 2011.
Dr. Martin-Ortega also published a short blog contribution during her field stay in The Hague about the ICTY Legacy Conference with Iva Vukusic: “Lack of critical voices as the ICTY examines its global legacy”, December 2011, available here.
The British Academy Small Grant also supported the research assistance work of Jeannette Symphoa-Nylin and Iva Vukusic as part of the project.