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Tribunal To Investigate Forced Marriages

Judges for the Khmer Rouge tribunal will begin investigating the practice of forced marriage and intercourse as part of their upcoming case against four senior leaders of the regime, officials announced this week.

Investigating judges Marcel Lemonde and You Bunleng said on the tribunal Website their findings indicate Cambodians were forced to consummate marriage, an act that could be construed as a crime against humanity.

In a Dec. 18 decision posted on the Web site Tuesday, the investigating judges said they had considered requests by civil parties and prosecutors and would “grant the request to conduct investigations into forced marriage throughout Cambodia.”

In its bid to create a utopian society, the Khmer Rouge dismantled much of the fabric of Cambodian life. Banks and schools were destroyed, and children were separated from their parents in work collectives.

Another policy was to gather men and women together and pair them off in forced marriages, according to complaints filed to the tribunal’s Victims Unit. Since 2008, victims have filed complaints from various provinces claiming they had been forced to marry under the Khmer Rouge.

The decision followed a request by civil party lawyers earlier this year that the forced marriages be added to the upcoming case against Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.

All four are expected to be tried jointly for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.