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Statement by the Co-Prosecutors regarding IENG Thirith

Today the Co-Prosecutors have appealed the Trial Chamber's Decision issued yesterday to unconditionally release the Accused Ieng Thirith.  The Trial Chamber held that Ieng Thirith is currently mentally unfit to stand trial for crimes against humanity alleged to have been committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea.   The Co-Prosecutors fully agree with the Trial Chamber that Ieng Thirith should be released from detention based on the findings of national and international experts that she is currently unfit to stand trial. However, the Co-Prosecutors are of the view that her release should not have been unconditional. 

Whilst accepting the Trial Chamber's findings relating to the Accused's cognitive impairment, the Co-Prosecutors also take note of the Chamber's holding that there exists a  possibility (albeit remote) of a change in the circumstances, and a resumption of the trial at a later point in time. Taking this into account, the Co-Prosecutors consider that the Trial Chamber has the legal authority to consider and apply limited, reasonably necessary and proportionate restrictions on Ieng Thirith's liberty.

The purpose of these restrictions or conditions would be (1) to ensure that the Accused does not flee the jurisdiction of this Court (2) to ensure she does not interfere with witnesses or other accused giving evidence at trial (3) to ensure her safety and public order and (4) to ensure that her health is adequately monitored to enable the Trial Chamber to remain informed of her medical condition.   

The technical grounds of the Co-Prosecutors' appeal are that the Trial Chamber erred :
(1)    in law by wholly suspending jurisdiction over the Accused, or effectively divesting itself of jurisdiction ;  
(2)    in law by not applying, dismissing or failing to consider the available legal bases for the continuing judicial supervision of the Accused, with conditions ; 
(3)    in law by ordering the unconditional release of the Accused in place of justifiable conditions of judicial supervision ;  
(4)    in fact or in the exercise of its discretion in finding that conditions of judicial supervision would be unenforceable or impractical.    

In the appeal the Co-Prosecutors have requested the Supreme Court Chamber to annul the Trial Chamber Decision insofar as the Trial Chamber finds it has no jurisdiction to order a continuation of judicial supervision subject to legally-justifiable conditions and amend the Decision to require the Accused (if necessary, through a guardian or curator to be appointed by the national authorities) to comply with the specific conditions proposed by the Co-Prosecutors.  These conditions should be imposed to appropriately safeguard the competing rights and legal interests engaged by her release from detention. 

The specific conditions proposed by the Co-Prosecutors are as follows :

(1)     to reside at a specified home address to be provided by her Co-Lawyers;
(2)     to make herself available for a weekly safety check by authorities or officials to be designated by the Trial Chamber;
(3)     to surrender her passport and ID card;
(4)     not to contact, directly or indirectly, the other Co-Accused  (excluding her husband, Accused Ieng Sary);
(5)     not to contact, directly, or indirectly, any witness, expert or victim who is proposed to be heard by the Trial Chamber, and not to interfere in the administration of justice; and
(6)     to undergo a medical examination every six months by medical practitioners to be appointed by the Trial Chamber.

While the Co-Prosecutors continue to support the release of Ieng Thirith from detention, they are convinced that the proposed conditions on her release – which would be ineffective if only framed as requests – are suitable, necessary and proportionate in the circumstances.

In considering the conditions for Ieng Thirith's release, it is imperative to consider the rights and interests of not only Ieng Thirith, but also those of the victims, the civil parties, the Office of the Co-Prosecutors, and the international community.  Factors such as national reconciliation and stability, justice, public order and safety must also be given due regard.  In arguing for the proposed conditions, the Co-Prosecutors seek to ensure that all rights and interests are given proper consideration and weight so as to ensure that international standards of human rights law are respected and enforced at the ECCC.

In a separate motion the Co-Prosecutors have requested the President of the Supreme Court Chamber to stay the release of Ieng Thirith as ordered in the Trial Chamber's Decision until the Supreme Court decides on this Appeal pursuant to Internal Rule 82(6). 

READ THE PRESS RELEASE IN PDF

 
Supreme Court Chamber Sets Aside the Trial Chamber's Order to Release Ieng Thirith From Detention

Today, the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has granted by supermajority decision an immediate appeal from the Co-Prosecutors, thereby setting aside an order to unconditionally release the Accused Ieng THIRITH issued by the Trial Chamber on 17 November.

The Supreme Court Chamber found that the Trial Chamber must exhaust all available measures potentially capable of helping the Accused to become fit to stand trial. Such decision was adopted in the light of the possibility, albeit slight, of a meaningful improvement in the mental health of the Accused which was foreseen by the medical experts appointed by the Trial Chamber. In a situation where the stay of proceedings may be lifted, the Supreme Court Chamber found that unconditional release of an accused is not required. The Supreme Court Chamber concluded that the original ground for keeping the Accused in provisional detention, namely to ensure her presence during the proceedings, remains valid and relevant.

The Supreme Court Chamber directed the Trial Chamber to request, in consultation with appropriate medical and psychiatric experts, additional treatment for the Accused which may help improve her mental health to such extent that she becomes fit to stand trial. Such treatment is to be carried out in a hospital or other appropriate facility in Cambodia. No later than six months after the commencement of this treatment, the Accused shall undergo a medical, psychiatric and/or psychological expert examination, after which the Trial Chamber shall determine the Accused's fitness to stand trial without delay.

The Supreme Court Chamber decided that the detention of the Accused shall be carried out in the ECCC Detention Facility until the necessary arrangements for the additional treatment are finalized and in the hospital or comparable facility thereafter.

The full decision is available on the ECCC website:

http://www.eccc.gov.kh/en/document/court/decision-immediate-appeal-against-trial-chamber039s-order-release-accused-ieng-thirit

 
Trial Chamber decision on reassessment of Ieng Thirith's fitness to stand trial

On 13 September 2012, the Trial Chamber issued its Decision on Reassessment of Accused IENG Thirith's Fitness to Stand Trial. On the basis of the court-appointed medical experts' report and testimony, the Trial Chamber has today reaffirmed its prior finding that the Accused IENG Thirith suffers from a progressive, degenerative illness (likely Alzheimer's disease) and that she remains unfit to stand trial. The experts have confirmed that all treatment options have now been exhausted and that the Accused's cognitive impairment is likely irreversible. As there is no prospect that the Accused can be tried in the foreseeable future, the Trial Chamber has confirmed the severance of the charges against the Accused IENG Thirith in Case 002 and indefinitely stayed proceedings against her. In these circumstances, and as the Co-Prosecutors and Defence have acknowledged, the Chamber is obliged to order the Accused's release from detention.

As proceedings against IENG Thirith have been stayed indefinitely, the Trial Chamber lacks any legal basis to impose coercive conditions against her upon release. Coercive conditions would in any case be difficult to enforce, given the Accused's mental capacity. Her medical condition ensures that she would be incapable of remembering or complying with conditions. However, the Trial Chamber agreed with the Co-Prosecutors that certain measures following IENG Thirith's release remain appropriate. The Trial Chamber has therefore reminded the Accused of her obligation not to interfere with the administration of justice, such as by contacting witnesses, victims, or other Accused (except for her husband, IENG Sary). It has also requested her not to leave the territory of the Kingdom of Cambodia, to inform the ECCC Office of Administration of any change of address and that she refrain from communicating with the media in relation to proceedings before ECCC. As Alzheimer's disease is currently incurable and no viable treatment options remain, no further medical assessments of the Accused have been ordered by the Trial Chamber. However, the Trial Chamber has agreed to consult with the court-appointed medical experts annually, to ascertain whether new medical treatments have since become available that in the experts' opinion are likely to render the Accused fit to stand trial. As the possibility of a cure being found for Alzheimer's disease is entirely speculative, this cannot form the basis of the Accused's ongoing detention.

It should be emphasised that a finding of unfitness to stand trial is not a finding on the guilt or innocence of the Accused IENG Thirith, nor does it have the effect of withdrawing the charges against the Accused.

READ THE PRESS RELEASE IN PDF

 
Victims Support Section
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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.

 
ECCC to hold a conference on hybrid perspective on ECCC legacy - 13-14 September 2012 - Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh

A high-level conference on the legacies of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) will be held on 13-14 September 2012 at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh.

The legacy conference is jointly organized by the ECCC and the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) to foster debate on the legacies of the ECCC. The conference aims to provide a forum where different stakeholders and the broader public can consider the ECCC's legacies in a domestic, regional and global context.

For further information, please see the conference's agenda or the media alert. You can also contact:

Mr. Neth Pheaktra
ECCC Press Officer
Mobile phone: +855 (0) 12 488 156
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Mr. Suon Bunsak
CHRAC Executive Secretary
Mobile: +855(0) 092 344 357
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
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Today: 05 April 2020

Victims Support Section of the ECCC