The Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal and German Legal Expertise
The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia fell from power more than 30 years ago, yet the country still bears the marks of the regime’s crimes. Parts of the legal system are still in shambles, and people do not trust state institutions. Can criminal proceedings against former leaders succeed under the circumstances? Are those put on trial today mere scapegoats? Are fair trials possible? Do show trials do more harm than good? How does the Cambodian population feel about spending millions of dollars in the name of global justice when they have a hard enough time finding clean water and sufficient food? This talk provides an insider’s view of a court that still today, seven years after its creation, finds itself in troubled waters.
Jürgen Aßmann has served as a state prosecutor in the city of Hamburg, Germany, since 2002. After completing his legal studies in Germany and France, he worked in the violent crimes division of the Hamburg public prosecutor’s office before being recruited as a legal advisor by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in 2006, which is mandated to prosecute crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. He served in that position for two and a half years. Among other duties, he helped facilitate cooperation between Cambodian and international staff. In 2009 Jürgen Aßmann returned to his position in Hamburg, where he continues to work in the area of transitional justice, participating in conferences in that field and working as an advisor for the German International Development Agency (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit).
Fatima Kastner was born in Tanger, Morocco, and studied philosophy and social sciences at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the Collège International de Philosophie, Paris. She is a senior research fellow at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research and a lecturer at the University of Hamburg. She co-edited Niklas Luhmann: Law as a Social System (London 2004), and has published, among other topics, on the global spread of truth and reconciliation commissions.