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Greater Participation by Civil Parties Urged for Tribunal

Chhum Mey, a surviving victim of torture at Tuol Sleng prison.
Chhum Mey, a surviving victim of torture at Tuol Sleng prison.

Two prominent civil party participants at the Khmer Rouge tribunals say the more complainants allowed by the Trial Chamber, the more justice and reconciliation the trials will bring.

Seng Theary, a US-Cambodian lawyer, and Chhum Mey, a survivor of the Tuol Sleng torture center, told “Hello VOA” on Thursday that victim participation is an important aspect of the tribunal.

“Hearing information, seeking truth, that’s totally important for the next generation,” Seng Theary said.

“I wish to appeal that all [civil complainants] cooperate with their lawyers and say, ‘I want to participate,’” Seng Theary said.

The courts have selected more than 2,000 civil party participants for the upcoming trial of jailed Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith. However, those who will actually participate under the lead lawyers to testify are not known.

“I as a civil party do not retaliate or have revenge at all,” Chhum Mey said. “I under [the defendants] are already old, and that’s why I’m pushing the court to do whatever, since they are still alive.”

The upcoming trial should also serve as a precedent for future generations to prevent another Khmer Rouge-style period, he said. And he urged the court to inform those civil parties who will participate in the trial as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Theary Seng said, there is little time remaining for lawyers to explain the relevant legal issues to civil party participants. She urged participants to be proactive in contacting their lawyers, instead of waiting.