ECCC Assigns New Co-Lawyer for Nuon Chea

AKP Phnom Penh, January 23, 2019 —

The Defence Support Section (“DSS”) of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (“ECCC”) has assigned Ms. Doreen Chen of Australia as the new foreign Co-Lawyer to represent Mr. Nuon Chea in Case 002/02.

According to ECCC, Ms. Chen is a human rights lawyer who served from 2014 – 2018 as Mr. Nuon Chea’s Senior Legal Consultant at the ECCC. Her wider legal practice focuses on representing persecuted human rights defenders and vulnerable communities in Asia, including before UN human rights mechanisms, and as Lead Prosecutor at the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Myanmar. She co-founded and co-directs the NGO Destination Justice, which works on rule of law, access to justice, and access to information in Cambodia and beyond, and is the Coordinator for International Law with the Free Rohingya Coalition. Among other things, Ms. Chen previously consulted for the UN human rights office, including to develop the first Annotated Cambodian Code of Criminal Procedure. She has also lectured widely on international law, human rights, and political science at universities in Cambodia, France, and Australia. She holds an LL.M. from Columbia University in New York and is admitted to the Supreme Court of New South Wales in Australia.

Ms. Chen will work alongside Cambodian Co-Lawyer Mr. Son Arun to represent Mr. Nuon Chea before the ECCC. In making the assignment, the DSS took into consideration Mr. Nuon Chea’s expressed preferences and all the applicable conflict waivers.

According to ECCC, Nuon Chea is alleged to be responsible, through his acts or omissions (committed via a joint criminal enterprise), for having planned, instigated, ordered, or aided and abetted, or being responsible by virtue of superior responsibility, for the following crimes committed between April 17, 1975 and  January 6, 1979, including crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation imprisonment, torture, persecution on political, racial, and religious grounds and other inhumane acts; genocide, by killing members of the groups of Vietnamese and Cham; grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (wilful killing, torture or inhumane treatment, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or civilian the rights of fair and regular trial, unlawful deportation or unlawful confinement of a civilian).

Nuon Chea has been indicted and sent to trial for crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and genocide; offences which are defined and punishable under Articles 4,5, 6, 29 (New) and 39 (New) of the Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers as amended on October 27, 2004.

The charges against Nuon Chea have been separated (severed) into two trials (Case 002/01 and Case 002/02).

The initial hearing in Case 002/01 was held from June 27-30, 2011, the substantive part of the trial  commenced with opening statements on November 21, 2011, and ended with final statements on October 31, 2013. The trial judgment was pronounced on August 7, 2014.

Nuon Chea was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment. On November 23, 2016, the Supreme Court Chamber quashed part of the convictions but affirmed life imprisonment for Nuon Chea in Case 002/01.

Trial hearings in Case 002/02 commenced on October 17, 2014. The presentation of evidence started on January 8, 2015 and concluded on January 11, 2017.

Closing statements were held from June 13-23, 2017. The trial judgment in Case 002/02 is expected in the second quarter of 2018.

By Khan Sophirom