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The Paradox of Victim-Centrism: Victim Participation at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

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It has been claimed – though not proved – that victims will be benefited by participation in international criminal tribunals. This article interrogates this claim in the context of victim participation at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), commonly referred to as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Based on interviews with Cambodian victims and Tribunal affiliates, it examines why and how the Tribunal permits victims to intervene as les parties civile, pulling together the normative and legal basis for this mode of victim participation. This article does not purport to generalize with confidence about Cambodian victims in general, let alone all victims of mass atrocity. Instead, it simply seeks to move beyond vague speculations that victim participation in international trials is always therapeutic, and suggest a new indigenized victimology that the Tribunal should explore as the long-awaited trials of the Khmer Rouge unfold.

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor of Law, Singapore Management University


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