The Asian International Justice Initiative (AIJI) is a collaborative project between the East-West Center and the War Crimes Studies Center at the University of California Berkeley. The two centers have worked together since 2003 on projects related to human rights, the rule of law, transitional justice, and judicial capacity building.
AIJI projects operate at the regional level, particularly in support of ongoing institutional developments in ASEAN concerning human rights and the rule of law. At the national level, AIJI programs currently operate in Indonesia, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Singapore, and Bangladesh. AIJI works with a wide range of university, governmental, and nongovernmental partners in and outside the Southeast Asia region. In support of its regional programs, AIJI works closely with the Human Rights Resource Center for ASEAN, a university network of 10 partner institutions centered at the University of Indonesia.
Based at the East-West Center, David Cohen directs all AIJI activities. Professor Cohen is a leading expert in international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Penelope VanTuyl, a human rights lawyer, serves as Deputy Director. She is based at the War Crimes Study Center. Other AIJI staff members are based in Phnom Penh and Jakarta.
AIJI is currently involved in six projects in the region.
Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT) Monitoring and Community Outreach Project
The KRT Trial Monitoring and Community Outreach Project is conducted in close cooperation with international and Cambodian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), working on post-conflict and victims' rights issues related to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). A team of court monitors—comprising lawyers and human-rights advocates from Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, the Philippines, the United States, Germany, and Switzerland—writes weekly reports and collaborates with a film production company in Cambodia, Khmer Mekong Films (KMF), to produce the weekly television series, Facing Justice, and a companion call-in radio program that broadcasts nationally in Cambodia every week.
The project is currently producing reports and videos of the ECCC’s Case 002, the trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, and Nuon Chea.
Summer Institutes in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
AIJI’s Summer Institutes in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights are regionally based workshops held in partnership with organizations in Southeast Asia. The Institutes consider key international law and human rights issues, past and present, facing the region. Established in 2008, the Summer Institute is now in its fifth year of operation.
Workshops have been co-hosted by partners in Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore, focusing on transitional justice and peace-building (2008), transitional justice and post-conflict human rights (2009); internal conflicts in the Asia Pacific region (2010); the rights of women and children (2011); and business and human rights (2012).
In 2013, the sixth annual Summer Institute will be held at the Universitas Udayana in Indonesia. The theme will be migration and human rights in ASEAN. Collaborating organizations will include the University of Zurich Competence Center for Human Rights, the International Institute for Child Rights and Development, and the Human Rights Resource Centre for ASEAN.
Judicial Capacity Building in Indonesia
Since 2003, AIJI has engaged in a variety of judicial capacity-building projects in Indonesia in partnership with the Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s Office of Indonesia. Projects have included human-rights and humanitarian-law workshops in support of the human-rights courts of Indonesia, the Human Rights Directorate of the Attorney General’s Office, the National Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Truth and Friendship, the National Witness Protection Agency, and Indonesia Legal Aid.
Courtroom security and witness protection projects are now being developed in collaboration with the Supreme Court and the National Judicial Training Center, as well as the US Department of Justice. AIJI is also helping to develop a human-rights database within the Ministry of Law and Human Rights and is conducting training for Indonesia’s new system of anti-corruption courts.
Collaboration with the Human Rights Resource Center (HRRC) for ASEAN
AIJI has participated in the development of ASEAN’s Human Rights Resource Center (HRRC), together with a group of leading human-rights experts in the region. During its first two years, the HRRC, based in Jakarta, has produced three groundbreaking baseline studies of human rights issues of immediate importance to ASEAN.
The baseline studies focused on the rule of law, the rights of women and children, and business and human rights. These issues are priority topics for the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC). Following the positive reaction to the first baseline study, which focused on business and human rights, the HRRC launched a series of meetings—“The Rule of Law Road Show”—to engage governmental institutions in the 10 ASEAN member countries. In July 2012, the Cambodian Senate hosted one of these meetings in collaboration with AIJI and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal Project
In 2012, AIJI initiated a project to observe and report on criminal trial proceedings at the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh. The Tribunal was established when the government of Bangladesh decided to prosecute alleged local collaborators who sided with the Pakistani armed forces to perpetrate war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide during Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence.
AIJI has sent international law experts to work with national trial observers in Dhaka. Together, the team has established a daily presence in the courtroom with the goal of producing reliable, objective, public reporting on the proceedings.
The Virtual Tribunal and Collaboration with the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and UNESCO in Cambodia
Beginning in 2010, AIJI and the Hoover Institute at Stanford University have been working with the ECCC to develop an ECCC Virtual Tribunal in Cambodia. The Virtual Tribunal seeks to provide justice institutions with an educational tool that is accessible to local citizens, schools, and universities as well as international audiences.
In collaboration with the Hoover Library and Archive at Stanford University, AIJI is working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh to preserve and digitalize AIJI’s unique archive of documents from the Khmer Rouge regime.