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International Journal of Legal Discourse

Editor-in-Chief: Cheng, Le

Managing Editor: Sun, Yuxiu

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The stories we tell victims: Victim participation and outreach programs at the extraordinary chambers in the courts of Cambodia

Tine Destrooper
  • Corresponding author
  • Human Rights Center, Faculty of Law, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium
  • Flemish Peace Institute, Brussels, Belgium
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Published Online: 2018-07-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijld-2018-2005


Victim participation and elaborate outreach programs are becoming increasingly important features of international and hybrid criminal courts. The aspiration is that these programs will increase the local relevance of these courts' work, enhance the sustainability of justice processes after international actors leave, and empower victims en passant. In the last decade, considerable attention and resources have been dedicated to the development of state-of-the-art outreach and participation programs, resulting in exciting new engagement models that are then, on average, evaluated in legal and technical terms. So far, however, little attention has been paid to the more long-term and indirect effects of exposure to certain – unidimensional and hierarchically organized – narratives about justice. In a first step to systematically analyze this question, this article maps the discursive priorities and structure of one of the tribunals (Cambodia) where victim participation and outreach played a central role. The article uses innovative large-n qualitative computational text analysis methods and raises critical questions about (a) the disconnect between prosecutorial prioritization strategies and popular priorities for the justice process, (b) the success of outreach programs in bringing a locally relevant message, and (c) the extent to which outreach and victim participation succeeded in bridging the gap between the work of the ECCC and the realities of people on the ground.

Keywords: victim participation; criminal justice; economic; social and cultural rights; discourse analysis


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About the article

Received: 2017-12-11

Accepted: 2018-02-26

Published Online: 2018-07-14

Published in Print: 2018-08-28

The research was made possible through the generous support of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU's Law School, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the EURIAS Fellowship Programme, the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Actions - COFUND Programme - FP7, and the Human Rights Center at the University of Ghent.

Declaration of interest statement: The author declares no conflict of interest.

Citation Information: International Journal of Legal Discourse, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 103–131, ISSN (Online) 2364-883X, ISSN (Print) 2364-8821, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijld-2018-2005.

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