Recent events surrounding the United Nations-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (“ECCC”) have motivated Olympic and trans-Atlantic rower Rob Hamill’s call for diasporas and expat Cambodians to apply for Civil Party status at the court.
“I am deeply concerned about overt political influence and the recent announcement by the two Co-Investigating Judges (CIJs) to close investigations into case 003. This means that any victims who wish to file complaints to the court for this case must to do so by 18 May 2011.”
Even though the ECCC has not yet disclosed the names of the persons under investigation, on 8 April 2011, exactly one month ago, Hamill became the second person (after Khmer Rouge survivor Theary Seng) to apply to become a Civil Party in Cases 003 and 004 against the five individuals believed to be under investigation by the ECCC Office of the CIJ’s, in particular against military commanders Mr Meas Muth and Mr Sou Met who commanded the Khmer Rouge Navy and Air Force respectively.
Hamill claims these two individuals committed war crimes and crimes against humanity including forced transfer, imprisonment (including severe deprivation of physical liberty), enslavement, torture, murder, and other inhumane acts. Rob Hamill’s brother Kerry was abducted by the Khmer Rouge navy in 1978 when his yacht strayed into Cambodian waters. He was taken prisoner at Toul Sleng prison in Phnom Penh where he was tortured and murdered.
“Rather than ramp up the investigations on behalf of the millions of victims and despite a mountain of evidence it seems the CIJs’ response to our applications is to cease any further enquiries into the heinous crimes these people committed," says Hamill. “It makes me wonder how much political influence is being wielded in Cambodia and what do the court’s funders’ think of the situation.”
With the deadline looming in less than 10 days time Hamill is concerned people are not aware of their rights and the opportunity that exists. “It should be the court’s obligation to inform victims about the deadline from the date of closing investigations,” said Hamill, “However, since it is not, this announcement hopes to raise the message for victims who want to put applications in for cases 003 and 004. If ever there was a time for the expat Cambodian community to speak up then this is it,” said Hamill. “Whether you live in Hamilton, New Zealand or London, New York, or Paris, now is the time to make contact with the court in Cambodia and be heard.”
The Victim Support Section (http://www.eccc.gov.kh/en/victims-support) is the body within the court that receives and processes victims’ application forms.