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Protective measures in the ECCC proceedings

When a witness, civil party or complainant requests protection measures or informs an officer of the court that they have security or confidentiality concerns, they are referred to the  ECCC's Witness and Expert Support Unit (WESU). 

There are many ways a person can inform the ECCC that they have a concern.  A civil party or a complainant might make a note on their official application form, or they may inform the ECCC's Victims Support Section (VSS) or, for civil parties, their civil party lawyer.  A witness, civil party or complainant may be interviewed by an officer from the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges and they may inform the investigators conducting the interview, or they may tell the Judges themselves.  However, if a person informs the ECCC that they have concerns they will always be directed to WESU.

When WESU learns that a Civil Party or witnesses has concerns about security or confidentiality, its staff will  meet with them in person to discuss the concerns.  Witness protection can be a complex matter, and not easily summarized, however there are many strategies that can be used to help safeguard the security of witnesses.

There are protective steps that witnesses can take for themselves; strategies that WESU can recommend, protection services that the Cambodian police authorities can provide, and protective measures that the Co-Investigating Judges or The Chambers can order for witnesses during the legal proceedings, for example, they can order that a witness's identity is hidden from the public.   As every individual is different and has special circumstances, it is usual that a witness who experiences threat or intimidation will require an individual protection plan for themselves.

Often people say the only thing they know about witness protection is what they have seen on movies, and this usually means they have seen that a threatened witness is "relocated", that is,  moved to a new location with a change of identify. In fact, this is the rarest form of witness protection and is only used in the most extreme cases of threat in any jurisdiction, national or international. 

In relation to the protective measures that the Co-Investigation Judges or The Chambers can order for witnesses, it is important to understand that while witnesses have the right to request the Judges to order protective measures for them, they are not automatically granted on request.  Once a witness has requested protective measures, the Judges will decide whether they will grant them, and the Judges will decide what kind of measures to grant. 

The intention of the Judges is to ensure the protection of the witnesses, but before they decide on granting any witness protection measures they must consider the needs of witnesses alongside the rights of the defendants, and the need for a fair trial. The Judges will always consult with WESU before they decide on a request for protective measures for a witness.

Witness protection for the ECCC doesn't just mean protection from physical harm due to testimony.  Many witnesses feel anxiety and fear before such a big event as testifying and they need support, reassurance and accurate information about what is happening.  WESU also concerns itself with protecting witnesses from emotional and psychological stress and that is why we have developed a range of support services for witnesses which include the provision of individual services of support to every witness from the professional staff of the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation Cambodia (TPO Cambodia).

Ms. Wendy Lobwein is Coordinator in the ECCC's Witnesses/Experts Support Unit.

Protective measures in the ECCC proceedings are reguleted in Internal Rule 29 and Practice Direction on Protective Measures

 
Co-Prosecutors submits report on the passing of Ieng Sary

The Co-Prosecutors of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (“the ECCC”) have now completed their investigation and report into the death of Ieng Sary.  The Co-Prosecutors have concluded that Ieng Sary’s death, on 14 March 2013 in the Khmer Soviet Hospital, was from natural causes.  The full report was transmitted today to the Acting Director of Administration and the Deputy Director of Administration.

Under Rule 32bis of the ECCC Internal Rules the Co-Prosecutors are responsible for establishing   the cause of death of any suspect, charged person or accused who dies while in the custody of the ECCC.  Ieng Sary has been in the custody of the ECCC since 12 November 2007, the date of his arrest.  He was indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 on 15 September 2010 by the Co-Investigating Judges and committed for trial. Substantive trial proceedings began on 21 November 2011.  These proceedings were ongoing at the time of his hospitalization and subsequent death on 14 March 2013 at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh.

It has been conclusively determined that Ieng Sary died of natural causes at 8:45 am on 14 March 2013 from irreversible cardiogenic shock due to a long-standing ischaemic cardiopathy that predated his arrest and detention at the ECCC.  This finding is confirmed by (1) the final medical report and death certificate issued by Ieng Sary’s treating doctors; (2) his comprehensively documented long-standing medical history; (3) the statements of medical practitioners and other medical staff present at his death; and (4) the statement of Ieng Sary’s daughter, a medical practitioner, who was present at the hospital from 6 to 14 March 2013 and remained beside Ieng Sary continuously from 2:00 am on 14 March 2013 until his death later that morning. No suspicious circumstances relating to Ieng Sary’s death have been uncovered in the investigation.  

In light of the clear and consistent evidence of the cause of death, no  autopsy of Ieng Sary’s body nor toxicological report of his blood were deemed necessary by the Co-Prosecutors.   Ieng Sary’s family and his former legal defence team conveyed their request that they did not wish an autopsy nor toxicological report to be conducted or taken.   Consequently, at 1.32 pm, on the day Ieng Sary died, his body was released to the custody of his family.

The Co-Prosecutors do not believe that it would be appropriate to transmit Ieng Sary’s full medical history into the public domain so the report produced under Rule 32 bis is classified as strictly confidential and will not be released to the public.

Press Release in PDF

 
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Today: 24 August 2017

Victims Support Section of the ECCC