Legal Developments of Civil Party Participation at the ECCC

  • Ignaz StegmillerEmail author
Part of the International Criminal Justice Series book series (ICJS, volume 6)


For the first time in the history of international criminal justice, victims of mass crimes have been granted the status of so-called ‘civil parties’ at the ECCC. This status grants victims—at least theoretically—the right to participate in the proceedings as a formal party with broad participatory rights similar to those of the defence and the prosecution. While the ECCC is exemplary in how it has addressed the issue of victims’ participation, practical necessities and judicial scepticism have led to significant changes in the civil party mechanism and continuously constrained participatory rights. First, changes in the ECCC’s Internal Rules have significantly altered the original civil party mechanism and led to a form of victim participation similar to the one practised at the ICC, thus departing from the true meaning of a partie civile. Judicial decisions by the ECCC’s judges, as well as changes in the Internal Rules, have abrogated the strong civil party mechanism that was originally anticipated in Cambodian criminal procedure law. Second, the practical challenges surrounding victim participation have been enormous. All these efforts notwithstanding, only political willingness and a Cambodian discussion on how to deal with the vast number of perpetrators beyond a handful of criminal trials can lead to a process of coming to terms with one’s past.


Civil parties Legal developments Victim participation Civil society Victim support section (VSS) Outreach 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Justus Liebig UniversityGiessenGermany

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