Prosecutor v. Nuon and Khieu

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Deprivation of Liberty | Evidence | Systemic Practice | Refusal to Disclose Fate | Relatives as Victims | Crimes Against Humanity

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Persons and Groups Affected | Related Crimes

The Chamber held that "other inhumane acts" had been established as a crime against humanity under customary international law before the events took place. It also found that the conduct of enforced disappearance was of sufficient gravity to amount to "other inhumane act" as a crime against humanity under the Laws on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

The Chamber highlighted that moving populations in this case was characterised by the deprivation of the individuals’ liberty by State agents. This was because Khmer Rouge soldiers and officials ordered people to depart, transported them under armed guard and in closed vehicles, and chased and arrested those who attempted to escape, exercising control over all elements of the transfer. The Chamber further noted that these deprivations of liberty were accompanied by a deliberate refusal to provide accurate information regarding the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned, concluding that even when the evidence showed that people did not actively seek information about displaced persons, it was clear that the Khmer Rouge had created an environment in which people were afraid to seek information. The Chamber further held that Khmer Rouge soldiers and officials caused great suffering both to those who disappeared and to their family members and friends. The Chamber also found that these crimes were discriminatory in fact and deliberately perpetrated with the intent to discriminate. Therefore, these crimes were sufficiently severe to constitute persecution and to violate fundamental rights and freedoms pertaining to movement, property, family, life and personal dignity.

Judgment Date

August 7, 2014

Country

Cambodia

Judicial Body

Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

Articles violated

Article 5 [LEECCC]

Facts of the Case

During the period of Khmer Rouge's control over Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979), a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of Cambodia resulting in various forms of inhuman treatment, including disappearances, took place. In particular, between 1975 and 1977, thousands of Cambodian civilians were forcibly re-located within regions. Moving people in this way was carried out under inhumane conditions, leading to deaths and disappearances. Moreover, after Khmer Rouge troops took over Pnom Penh in April 1975, using threats and violence, they forcibly evacuated the city’s population to rural areas. During the evacuation many civilians and State officials were killed or disappeared. Moreover, the Khmer Rouges demanded ministers and all other generals to turn themselves in to collaborate. Those who heeded these calls were either executed or disappeared. A number of soldiers were arrested or separated from the civilian population, and after being seen walking tied to one another, they were killed or disappeared, and never seen by their families again. At checkpoints, many people disappeared after being stopped and questioned by the Khmer Rouge.

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