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Victims' Rights

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1- Introduction

One of the major innovations of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is the enhanced recognition of Victims in its proceedings. Victims of crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the Court are given a fundamental role in the ECCC. They can submit complaints to the Co-Prosecutors, who take the interests of Victims into account when considering whether to initiate an investigation or a prosecution. Victims may also participate as Civil Parties. In this capacity, they are recognised as parties to the proceedings and are allowed to claim collective and moral reparations. This reflects the commitment of the ECCC to its mandate of helping the Cambodian people in the pursuit of justice and national reconciliation, as stated in the Preamble to the Agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia Concerning the Prosecution under Cambodian Law of Crimes committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea.

2. Overview

The Victims Support Section (VSS) was established to support the ECCC by assisting Victims who want to participate in the proceedings. The VSS is the central contact point between the ECCC and Victims or their representatives. The VSS aims to facilitate the effective participation of Victims in the proceedings. This consists of processing complaints and applications of Victims who seek to exercise their right to participate. It also oversees that Victims have access to legal representation of a high quality. To that end, the VSS also provides legal and administrative support to the Civil Party lawyers. Finally, the VSS serves as a meeting place where all the actors involved in the proceedings that is the Victims, the Court members, the lawyers and intermediary organisations can gather and thus share their views for the most efficient representation of the Victims’ interests.

3. Main Tasks

The VSS informs Victims about their rights relating to participation and reparations, and enables them to file complaints and Civil Party applications to the ECCC if they wish to do so (for details see Practice Direction on Victim Participation).
This entails the provision of assistance in obtaining legal advice or a lawyer, supporting legal representatives and facilitating the grouping and collective representation of Victims.
The VSS supports the work of the Co-Prosecutors and the Co-Investigating Judges by processing complaints and Civil Party applications and preparing reports for these offices.
It also maintains contact with Victims and their lawyers regarding the status of their complaints and applications, and keeps them updated regarding developments in individual cases.
The VSS ensures that the role of the section and the rights of Victims are explained in outreach events throughout Cambodia.

Lastly, the VSS ensures the safety and well-being of Victims who participate in the proceedings. This involves ensuring that Victims properly understand the risks sometimes inherent in such participation, as well as providing them with protective measures and other assistance, like psychosocial support.

 
Legal Representation

Legal representation is a key feature to allow Victims to access, understand and effectively participate in proceedings before the ECCC. This is especially so when Victims wish to participate as Civil Parties and make claims for reparations. Before the ECCC, Victims may be represented either by a national lawyer acting alone, or by a foreign lawyer acting in conjunction with a national lawyer.
Rule 12bis (1) (c) of the Internal Rules of the ECCC states that the Victims Support Section (VSS) shall maintain a list of foreign and national lawyers who wish to represent Victims or Victims’ Associations before the ECCC. Lawyers seeking to represent Victims before the ECCC must be included on this list. Victims will then be able to make an informed selection from among the lawyers on this list. Victims may also engage a lawyer who is not on the list. In such a case, this lawyer will need to contact the VSS to be included on the list, before he or she can represent Victims before the ECCC (See the section below on the criteria for inclusion on the list of lawyers.)
Efforts have been taken to ensure that all Civil Parties have access to legal representation even when they are unable to afford it. Presently, the lawyers who represent Civil Parties mostly do so on a pro-bono basis or from contributions from outside the ECCC. In addition, the VSS has engaged a legal team to represent Civil Parties before the ECCC. 

Criteria for Inclusion on the List of Lawyers

Cambodian lawyers wishing to represent Civil Parties must meet the following criteria in order to be included in the List of Lawyers of the VSS:
-    To be a current member of the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia;
-    To have established competence in criminal law and procedure at the international or national level.

Foreign lawyers wishing to represent Civil Parties must meet the following criteria in order to be included in the List of Lawyers of the VSS:
-    To be a current member in good standing of a recognized association of lawyers of a United Nations member state;
-    To have a degree in law or an equivalent legal or professional qualification;
-    To be fluent in Khmer, French or English;
-    To have established competence in criminal law and procedure at the international or national level;
-    To have relevant working experience in criminal proceedings, as a lawyer, judge or prosecutor, or in some other capacity;
-    Not to have been convicted of a serious criminal or disciplinary offence considered to be incompatible with representing a victim before the ECCC.
-    In addition, foreign Co-Lawyers must register with the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

VSS Support to Civil Party Lawyers
VSS provides administrative support to Civil Parties Lawyers base on its existing and available resources.

Application Process

National and Foreign Application who wish to register in the list of lawyers maintained by Victims Support Section to represent the Victims before ECCC shall complete the relevant forms in lawyer Application Form Section.

National Lawyer shall complete the Cambodian Co-lawyer Application Form attached with the most updated Resume, 2 passport size photos, and the certificate of membership of the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC). Completed Application forms and supporting document shall be sent by post to Victims Support Section (VSS), Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC). All application will be assessed within one month of receipt of the completed application.

Foreign lawyer shall complete the application for registration with the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) and Foreign Co-lawyer Application Form attached with the most updated Resume, 2 passport size photos, a copy of passport, Certificate of Good Standing, Initial or Current Registration, and other relevant Supporting Documents, Completed Application form and supporting documents shall be sent by post to Victims Support Section (VSS) , Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). All application will be assessed within one month of receipt of the completed application.

Lawyer Application Forms

 
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Today: 24 February 2018

Victims Support Section of the ECCC