Chinese advisers and Khmer Rouge soldiers pose for a photo. Source: Documentation Center of Cambodia Archives.


Promoting Accountability



Our Accountability Project focuses on fact-finding in an effort to promote justice and a better historical understanding of the Democratic Kampuchea (DK) regime.  In particular, we aim to shed light on the roles and activities of the lower-level personnel who were charged with implementing policies and directives of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). 


The project is directly relevant to the cases against senior surviving Khmer Rouge leaders at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).  It provides a way to illuminate chains of command, reporting practices, and other institutional features of the DK regime that can help to hold leaders accountable for atrocities committed in the field.  The ECCC has already drawn extensively on our findings to that end.


The Accountability Project also serves a crucial truth-telling function.  Most Cambodian survivors have never seen or met the senior officials on trial at the ECCC.  The abuses seared in their memories are overwhelmingly local in nature.  In the absence of a formal truth commission, most survivors will have little opportunity to share their stories in detail or to learn a history of the DK regime that focuses on the types of atrocities they observed in their communes and cooperatives.  We aim to help fill that gap.


Between 2000 and 2007, we conducted over 10,000 interviews with Khmer Rouge cadres, their family members, and victims across the country.  We began by looking at the CPK biographies in our documentary files to identify the names, birthplaces and other basic information on thousands of former Khmer Rouge cadres.  Teams of researchers moved from province to province, locating and interviewing many of the individuals in question.  We have also entered data about individual interviewees into our “Accountability Database.”  We have taken appropriate precautions regarding the recording, use, and dissemination of that data to ensure the security of our interviewees.


In 2004, we undertook a study with Dr. Stephen Heder of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, who is one of the world’s leading experts on modern Cambodian history. Dr. Heder analyzed approximately 100 interviews (about 2,000 pages) to determine if they provide information relevant to the cases of the former Khmer Rouge officials most likely to stand trial. Dr. Heder wrote English summaries of the historically salient points in selected interviews, while preparing the materials for legal analysis and presentation to the ECCC. In addition, he accompanied our field teams to conduct several follow-up interviews with cadres who may be important in providing indications of the leadership chain of the Khmer Rouge. He completed his analysis in December 2004, and we provided it to the ECCC.


We now plan to undertake a more comprehensive analysis of the transcripts in our files.  We have more than 100,000 pages of transcripts in Khmer in addition to the English summaries prepared by Dr. Heder.  In the next stage of the project, we will organize a team of staff members to review the Khmer transcripts and prepare summaries in Khmer and English identifying key information relevant to the crimes and institutional features of the DK regime.  Dr. John D. Ciorciari of the University of Michigan, a specialist in international law, will advise the team and help oversee the review process.  We will prepare the summaries with an eye toward the preparation of definitive academic publications on lower-level Khmer Rouge offenses in the future.




Photos by Provinces


Contact: Long Dany
               Team Leader