4 Nw. Univ. J. Int'l Hum. Rts. 549 (2005-2006)
Bringing the Khmer Rouge to Justice: The Challenges and Risks Facing the Joint Tribunal in Cambodia

handle is hein.journals/jihr4 and id is 556 raw text is: 

Copyright 2006 by Northwestern University School of Law                 Volume 4, Issue 3 (Spring 2006)
Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights

       Bringing the Khmer Rouge to Justice: The

 Challenges and Risks Facing the Joint Tribunal in


                                Katheryn M. Klein*

                                   I. INTRODUCTION

      The time for justice is running out. Over thirty years have passed since the Khmer
Rouge took over Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, and overthrew the Khmer Republic in
order to carry out their violent plan to transform Cambodia into an agrarian, communist
society.1 From April 1975 until January 1979, the Khmer Rouge subjected citizens to
forced labor, torture and genocide.' Two to three million Cambodians were forced to
evacuate their urban homes and ordered into slave labor in the countryside.3 By the close
of 1979, nearly one-fifth of the Cambodian population had been decimated by the Khmer
      The Khmer Rouge leaders are responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million of their
own countrymen and to the present day have not been held accountable.6 The debate
over the appropriate mechanism by which to try the Khmer Rouge leaders for their
crimes was so protracted that members of the Khmer Rouge have been aging and some
dying; leaving victims and their families without hope of bringing the Khmer Rouge
leaders to justice.7 Pol Pot, the highest ranking Khmer Rouge leader known as Brother

    Katheryn M. Klein, J.D. Candidate 2006, Northwestern University School of Law; B.A. in Political
Science and B.A. in History, University of California at Los Angeles (2002).
   Rachel S. Taylor, Better Late Than Never, in INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE CRIMINAL LAW
E. Stromseth ed., Transnational Publishers 2003).
   2 Identical letters dated 15 March 1999from the Secretary-General to the President of the General
Assembly and the President of the Security Council, 53rd Sess., Agenda Item 110(b), U.N. Doc. A/53/850
at 2 (1999).
   3 TAYLOR, supra note 1, at 239.
   4 The Report of the Group of Experts for Cambodia Pursuant to GeneralAssembly Resolution 52/135,
53rd Sess., Agenda Item 110(b), U.N. Doc. A/53/850, at 5 (1999). [hereinafter GROUP OF EXPERTS
   5 Cf id., at 13. This source notes: Scholars and Governments have offered differing totals for the
number of Cambodians killed by the Khmer Rouge. Scholars have separately arrived at figures of 1.5
million and nearly 1.7 million.There was a sharp disparity among victim groups. One study posits close to
a 100 per cent death rate for rural and urban ethnic Vietnamese, 25 per cent for urban and rural Khmer
new people, and 15 per cent for rural Khmer 'base people.' Overall, the various estimates point to a death
rate of approximately 20 per cent of the April 1975 population of 7.3 to 7.9 million people. Historians of
Cambodia have rejected the figure of 2 to 3 million that has often been used by the Governments in
Cambodia since 1979, as well as in some popular accounts.
   6 Scott Luftglass, Crossroads in Cambodia: The United Nation's Responsibility to Withdraw
Involvement from the Establishment of a Cambodian Tribunal to Prosecute the Khmer Rouge, 90 VA. L.
REV. 893, 895 (2004).
   7 TAYLOR, supra note 1, at 237-38.

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