top of page

Prosecution of sexual violence before the Cambodia Tribunal

Dear all,

The Edinburgh University International Law Discussion Group are holding a new event, it will take place this Friday (25 October) 3-4 pm in Ken Mason Suite (Old College). Dr. Sarah Williams from University of New South Wales, Sydney, will be presenting on the subject “The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: a wasted opportunity for victims of sexual violence?”.

Here’s the abstract:

Widespread gender-based violence was a feature of Khmer Rouge rule, whether during forced marriages, as an instrument of torture, or as a systematic feature of Khmer Rouge policy, with rape often the precursor to execution. Yet gender issues were sidelined during the period of prolonged tension that characterized negotiations for its establishment and as a result of the initial focus of the ECCC on genocide. While the ECCC’s jurisdiction theoretically allows room for prosecuting sexual violence, and the first accused, Duch, was convicted of torture including rape as a crime against humanity relating to one incident at S-21, the widespread occurrence of gender-based violence has been largely ignored. In Case 002, while forced marriages were included in the closing order as the crime against humanity of ‘other inhumane acts’ after considerable efforts by civil parties, rape was excluded on the basis that the policy of the Khmer Rouge was to prevent rape and punish perpetrators, and thus was not one of the crimes committed by the leadership of the Khmer Rouge. This is despite 86.5% of respondents in a recent study[i] stating that they were aware of rape, sexual mutilation or sexual abuse, including rape perpetrated by Khmer Rouge agents, with over half of respondents directly witnessing such crimes.

This paper will assess the record of the ECCC in relation to prosecution of sexual crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge period.

Sarah Williams

Dr Sarah Williams is an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales. Sarah was the Dorset Fellow in Public International Law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (from 2008 – 2010), a Senior Legal Researcher at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (from 2006 – 2007), a Lecturer at Durham Law School, University of Durham (from 2003 – 2008) and a commercial solicitor in London and Sydney (1998 – 2001). Sarah has acted as a consultant to the European Commission, the British Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. Her research areas include international criminal law, international humanitarian law and international disaster law. Sarah’s book, Hybrid and Internationalized Criminal Tribunals: Selected Jurisdictional Issues, was published by Hart Publishing in April 2012. She is an Associate of the Australian Human Rights Centre, and co-director of its Humanitarian Law programme.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page