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International Standards and National Ownership? Judicial Independence in Hybrid Courts: The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

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The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) was established in 2004 through an agreement between the United Nations (UN) and the Cambodian government, as a means to address the crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. The ECCC is one in a row of international judicial institutions set up in response to gross violations of human rights, known as 'hybrid' courts, encompassing both national and international elements in their structure, composition and jurisdiction. Hybrid courts, allowing for a higher degree of participation by national actors, are expected to be better placed to give long-lasting effects in the societies in which mass atrocities have taken place. This article examines that claim with regard to the ECCC, and explores the value added by participation by various national actors in the judicial proceedings. After giving an overview of international standards of judicial independence, it provides an analysis of concerns that may be raised with regard to the judicial independence of the ECCC. This article argues that some aspects of national ownership may be promoted at the cost of lowering international standards of justice, and may cause an overall lack of ownership or accountability of the proceedings.

Affiliations: 1: United Nations Office of Legal Affairs


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