International Co-Prosecutor requests investigation of alleged sexual and gender-based violence in Case 004

ECCC Internal Rule 54 requires that any Introductory or Supplemental submission by the Co-Prosecutors shall be confidential but provides that the Co-Prosecutors “may provide the public with an objective summary of the information contained in such submissions.”  Accordingly, taking into consideration the interests, security and privacy of victims and witnesses, the rights of suspects who are entitled to the presumption of innocence, and the requirement of rules that the investigation shall be confidential, the International Co-Prosecutor provides the following information.

Today, the International Co-Prosecutor filed a Supplementary Submission in Case 004 requesting the investigation of sexual or gender-based violence as well as forced marriage in key districts that are presently under investigation as part of this case.  The allegations include forced marriages, including instances where groups of up to 80 couples were married in a single ceremony. The allegations also include rapes and sexual violence outside the context of forced marriages, including instances where women were raped prior to being executed, and instances where women who reported rapes during the Khmer Rouge period were subsequently executed.  The preliminary information available at this time indicates that the forced marriages, rapes, and sexual violence alleged were perpetrated by Khmer Rouge cadre and occurred in areas where named suspects in Case 004 held command or political positions of influence. The International Co-Prosecutor  today requested that the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges further investigate these crimes and any links to the named suspects.    

This Submission is based on new evidence that has become available since the filing of the Case 004 Introductory Submission.  It was located in numerous applications of civil party victims in Case 002 and in the statements of evidence being collected from witnesses on an ongoing basis in Case 004. The International Co-Prosecutor after careful analysis of the information over the last few months,  believes that the factual allegations contained in the new evidence constitute crimes against humanity including extermination, murder, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts. These acts also constitute homicide and torture in violation of Cambodia’s 1956 Penal Code.

 The International Co-Prosecutor reminds the public that all suspects are entitled to the presumption of innocence and that Case 004 is still under investigation. New evidence continues to come to light and as in any criminal investigation, it is important to avoid conclusions until the investigation is complete and the suspects through their own counsel are given the right to be heard before the Co-Investigating Judges. 

The International Co-Prosecutor is also cognizant that justice should be both expeditious and efficient and that victims of these crimes have already been waiting over 35 years for justice.  Accordingly, the International Co-Prosecutor will continue to advocate that the investigation, and any resulting prosecution, be focused on crimes most directly linked to the suspects/charged persons. In order to advance justice and the completion of the work of the ECCC, the International Co-Prosecutor submitted a proposed rule change now under consideration, to allow the reduction of the number of crime sites under investigation, which he believes will significantly contribute to reducing the time needed to complete the investigation of Case 004.           

Finally, the International Co-Prosecutor acknowledges  the courage of the witnesses and Civil Party victims who have come forward to provide this important evidence to ECCC investigators. In armed conflicts and atrocity campaigns around the world, it is a recurring phenomenon that sexual violence is grossly under reported.  All victims of such violence bear the emotional and often physical scars from these crimes for the rest of their lives. Accordingly, we also recognize it is our solemn duty to do all we can to ensure the physical security and privacy concerns of these victims are respected and that the truth about their suffering is recognized.

24 April 2014
Nicholas Koumjian, International Co-Prosecutor ECCC

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