Is the Trial of 'Duch' a Catalyst for Change in Cambodia's Courts?


Kheang Un and Judy Ledgerwood

Asia Pacific Issues, No. 95


Honolulu: East-West Center

Publication Date: June 2010
Binding: paper
Pages: 12
Free Download: PDF


At his trial under an international hybrid tribunal, the notorious member of the Khmer Rouge regime Kaing Guek Eav, known as "Duch," admitted to being responsible for the deaths of more than 12,000 people between 1975 and 1979. This admission and expected conviction (the only real question left is the level of punishment) signify a symbolic victory for the Cambodian people. It is important for Cambodia's healing that the people know their history and believe that there can be justice. The coverage of Duch's trial and associated community outreach have engaged the public in the process and have increased education about the country's recent past. But whether the hopes that the hybrid tribunal in which his trial was conducted may serve as a model for a more transparent system of justice--as opposed to the endemic system of patronage and corruption that is the norm for Cambodia's judiciary and law enforcement--has yet to be seen. For these hopes to be realized, the educational outreach and the pursuit of judicial reform must continue.


The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Center.