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Broadcasting Justice: Media Outreach at the Khmer Rouge Trials

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Asia Pacific Issues
Analysis from the East-West Center
No. 115
July 2014

by Christoph Sperfeldt

Summary

Increasingly, individuals who have perpetrated mass atrocities are being held to account in criminal tribunals. Whether these are in-country tribunals or convened elsewhere, one of their main purposes is to obtain justice for victims. Building a bridge between the tribunal and the affected population is key to achieving this and other goals, such as promoting the rule of law and community reconciliation. But limited or ineffective outreach can negate the wider potential of these tribunals. Surprisingly, tribunals do not typically give the outreach process the priority needed to realize its potential. The case of the tribunal in Cambodia, which is trying leaders of the Khmer Rouge, demonstrates that innovative approaches to outreach—including, in this case, a TV series in a popular talk-show format—can help ensure that the opportunity for national progress provided by the tribunal is fully realized.