This piece (authored by Jaya Ramji-Nogales) examines an area long neglected in current discussions of Khmer Rouge accountability-reparations for victims. It discusses the Khmer Rouge tribunal law's silence on this matter and presents several arguments, drawing on international human rights law, for the tribunal's awarding of reparations notwithstanding this textual blindspot. The chapter then reviews the various goals reparations can achieve-restitution, rehabilitation, and reconciliation; the types of reparations that can be awarded; and the mechanisms, individual versus collective, that can be used to distribute reparations. Turning to the Cambodian context, it emphasizes the need for a comprehensive study to understand the opinions of Cambodians with respect to reparations. The piece concludes by suggesting several alternative approaches to reparations that are sensitive to Cambodian attitudes and the unique Cambodian cultural context.
The chapter comes from a book (co-edited by Beth Van Schaack and Jaya Ramji-Nogales) that explores the legal issues surrounding accountability for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge and crimes of mass violence more generally. Comprising chapters authored by legal academics, lawyers, historians, artists, and others, the volume analyzes the complex problems inherent to such accountability efforts, and presents novel ideas as to how to address them. Three chapters examine aspects of accountability from the Cambodian and/or Theravada Buddhist perspective, a viewpoint that has rarely been considered before in this context. Other chapters present explanations for the failure of past accountability efforts, discuss holes in the law authorizing a tribunal for senior Khmer Rouge leaders, and outline the evidence available and how it can be used for such a trial. In addition to examining accountability in Cambodia from multiple perspectives, the book presents questions and ideas that affect all efforts to hold perpetrators accountable after widespread human rights violations. One particularly ground-breaking chapter questions the focus on top leadership in genocide trials, using Cambodia as a case study, and other chapters point to new directions in amnesty and reparations scholarship and practice. The book is accompanied by an online appendix of primary documents relevant to past, current and future accountability mechanisms in Cambodia.
Beth Van Schaack and Jaya Ramji-Nogales,
A Collective Response to Mass Violence: Reparations and Healing in Cambodia, in Bringing the Khmer Rouge to Justice: Prosecuting Mass Violence Before the Cambodian Courts
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/facpubs/624