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John D. Ciorciari quoted in Phnom Penh Post article, "Jurisdiction key in 003 fight"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

John D. Ciorciari was quoted in a Phnom Penh Post article on the conflict over the limits of jurisdiction in the upcoming trial of two major Khmer Rouge leaders by the Extraordinary Chamber of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

The ECCC, established by an agreement between Cambodia and the UN in 2003, is conflicted on the issue of actually trying the two suspects of case 003, as the upcoming case, the third in a series of tribunals, is known. The mandate of the ECCC is to try "senior leaders" and those "most responsible" for the Khmer Rouge's atrocities in the 1970s; while those tried earlier, generally Khmer Rouge party heads, have undeniably been both of those, conflict has arisen over whether the two defendants in case 003 fall into the same category.

"The real crux of the issue appears to be a disagreement over the scope of the tribunal's jurisdiction — a disagreement that was never adequately resolved in the political negotiations to create the court," said Ciorciari.

Several Cambodia jurists insist that the defendants are outside the ECCC's jurisdiction and that only a limited number of people should be tried, while international prosecutors and UN officials argue that the defendants in case 003 should be tried and that the Cambodian attempt to quash additional prosecution is politically motivated.

Ciorciari has also commented on the issue in a video on the Asia Society's website, in which he stated that the conflict confirms that the tribunal is operating in a "very tightly managed political frame," and that it "impairs the tribunal's credibility as an independent judicial body."