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The Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Cambodia’s Search for Justice


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Tuesday, January 12, 12:00., Moore Hall 319 (Tokioka Room)
Presented by Elisa Hoven, War Crimes Studies Center – University of California, Berkeley

During the Khmer Rouge Regime from 1975 to 1979, almost one quarter of the Cambodian population died. Thirty years after the events, an international tribunal is finally dealing with the crimes under former leader Pol Pot. The hybrid court with national and international judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers will try at least five of the most responsible perpetrators for torture, genocide and crimes against humanity.

The short documentary The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Cambodia’s Search for Justice gives an introduction to the historical and legal background of the proceedings. In interviews with two contemporary witnesses who survived the Pol Pot regime, the film addresses the major questions faced by the court today:

  • Does a criminal trial still make sense – 30 years after the crimes were committed?
  • Why is participation of the international community necessary?
  • What impact do the proceedings have on the victims?

After seeing the film, students are invited to discuss the challenges of international criminal law and its importance for Cambodia’s national reconciliation.


Elisa Hoven was born in Berlin (Germany). She completed her law studies at the Free University of Berlin (Germany), the Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands) and the University of Cambridge (UK). She worked as a legal assistant at the Chair of Public and International Law under Professor Dr. Beate Rudolf (FU Berlin) and wrote her dissertation on the rule of law in international criminal proceedings. In 2007, she won the Berlin Science Society award with a paper on German constitutional law. The following year, she was awarded the Humboldt Forum Law Award for an essay on criminal prosecution of international terrorism. In cooperation with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem she co-organized and spoke at the Conference “Ethic and Human Rights in a Globalized World.” In 2009, she worked as a legal consultant to the Civil Parties at the Khmer-Rouge-Tribunal and published several essays on civil party participation in international criminal law. Supported by the German National Academic Foundation, she is currently doing research at the War Crimes Studies Center at the University of Berkeley.

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