• Press Release

Cambodia: Genocide verdict is bitter, belated justice

November 16, 2018

TOPSHOT - This handout photo taken and released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on November 16, 2018 shows former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea sits in court at the ECCC in Phnom Penh. - Two senior Khmer Rouge leaders were sentenced to life imprisonment for genocide for their part in the regime's 1975-1979 reign of terror, a UN-backed war crimes court said on November 16 in a historic ruling. (Photo by Mark Peters / Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK PETERS/AFP/Getty Images)
Responding to the guilty verdict handed to Khmer Rouge cadres Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) today, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia, said:

“Today’s verdict hopefully brings some measure of justice to the victims, forty years after the unspeakable mass atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

“While this second trial of the Khmer Rouge’s last surviving senior leaders results in two convictions, and 14 reparation projects, this is bitter justice: the world has waited far too long for this moment. Decades after the crimes and 13 years after it was established, the ECCC should have achieved much more.”


Nuon Chea, aged 92, was the former second in command of the Khmer Rouge regime. Khieu Samphan, aged 87, was the regime’s former Head of State. The Khmer Rouge, seized power in Cambodia in 1975 and governed until 1979.

Both men were convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and are already serving life sentences after they were convicted of crimes against humanity in a separate ECCC trial in 2014.

The ECCC has completed only one other case. In 2010 Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, who operated the Khmer Rouge’s Tuol Sleng torture chambers in Phnom Penh, was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes.