The backdrop to Bridging Divides in Transitional Justice is Cambodia’s history of radical Communist revolution (1975–1979) under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, and the culture of impunity and silence imposed on the society by successive national governments for close to three decades. Dialogue on the suppressed past began in 2006 as key figures of the regime were brought before the in situ internationalised criminal court, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).
Cheryl’s book engages with the dissonance between the expressivism of idealised international criminal trials and their communicative or discursive value within the societies most affected by their operation. An alternative view of the transitional trial is posited as Dr White elucidates the limits of expressivism and explores the communicative dynamics of ECCC trial procedure which have precipitated unprecedented local debate and reflection on the Khmer Rouge era.
The book provides a timely and nuanced analysis of the ECCC’s politically contentious and frequently criticised proceedings by examination of the trial dialogue in the Court’s first two cases. From transcripts of the proceedings, exchanges between trial participants including witnesses, civil parties and the accused, are examined to show how, at times, the retributive proceedings assumed the character of restorative justice and encompassed significant dialogue on current social issues, such as the victim/perpetrator equation and the nature of ongoing post-traumatic stress disorder flowing from the events that took place under this violent regime. The Court’s capacity for representative and discursive proceedings is attributed to the substantive inclusion of the voice of the victim in proceedings, a modified inquisitorial trial procedure, narrative testimony and role-sharing between national and international court actors.
We are also very fortunate to have joining us Professor Sarah Williams from the University of New South Wales, and Dr Wendy Lambourne from University of Sydney, who will offer their expert views on Cheryl’s book.
Please register here by midday Friday 16 June 2016 for catering purposes.
About the Author
Dr Cheryl White completed her PhD, From Expressivism to Communication in Transitional Justice: A Study of the Trial Procedure of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, in 2014 at the Australian National University. Previously, she was Director of Continuing Legal Education at the Law Faculty of the University of New South Wales (1993-1998) and lectured in law at the University of Newcastle. For more detail, visit her RegNet profile.