The UN and the Cambodian government have finally established a “hybrid-style” tribunal in Phnom Penh to begin prosecuting senior leaders from the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime that caused the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians more than thirty years ago. This tribunal is widely viewed as one of the most important experiments in transitional justice in a post-conflict society. Prof. Hall will show, however, that the hybrid structure mixing international and local lawyers, judges, and staff is deeply flawed. Cambodia’s legal system is notoriously corrupt, inefficient, and politically controlled. Predictably, the UN-sponsored tribunal has been plagued by accusations of corruption, opacity, distrust, and woeful human resource management. Against this backdrop, the international lawyers and judges at the tribunal continue their up-hill battle to forge a venue that meets minimum international legal standards.
John A. Hall specializes in international law and human rights. His controversial 21 September 2007 op ed in the Wall Street Journal (“Yet Another U.N. Scandal”) helped focus international attention on corruption and mismanagement at the Khmer Rouge tribunal. In addition to writing widely on Cambodia, he has worked for Legal Aid of Cambodia in Phnom Penh and the Public Interest Law Center in the Philippines. He holds a doctorate in Modern History from Oxford University, graduated from Stanford Law School in 2000, and before going to law school was a tenured professor of history.
John Ciorciari is Senior Legal Advisor to the Documentation Center of Cambodia, a leading NGO dedicated to accountability for the abuses of the Khmer Rouge regime. He holds a JD from Harvard Law School and a PhD from Oxford University.