Cambodia Daily publishes Karnavas commentary on US Senate pressure on ECCC to indict in Case 003

On 6 July 2016, The Cambodia Daily published a commentary by Michael G. Karnavas on US Senate Appropriations Committee Bill S.3117.1section 7043(c)(2  The bill, as explained in the Committee’s Report, seeks to tie US funding of the ECCC to the indictment of Mr. Meas Muth in Case 003. Mr. Karnavas calls out the bill’s drafters on their disregard for international standards of justice and respect for the rule of law, and for their lack of understanding of the very procedural rules with which they seek to tamper.

Inducing Case 003 Outcome: US Purse Strings Wielded as a Whip


Last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill: S.3117. Buried 221 pages into that bill is a provision that would stop U.S. contributions to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia unless the U.S. secretary of state certifies and reports to the committee that the ECCC “will consider Case 003.” Continue reading “Cambodia Daily publishes Karnavas commentary on US Senate pressure on ECCC to indict in Case 003”

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Judgement by essay at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia results in public apology

On 2 December 2015, the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) published its November Court Report. The PAS saw fit to include in the Court Report an essay titled “Exploring Transgenerational Justice at the ECCC”, which was published without attribution. In the essay, which discussed PAS interviews of high school students and senior citizens about their perspectives on trauma and justice, the author reached some astonishing conclusions about crimes purportedly committed from 1975 to 1979 (the period in which the Khmer Rouge governed Cambodia). In the author’s view, “some of the most gruesome crimes against humanity were perpetrated [in the years between 1975 and 1979]” and, “[d]espite having only second-hand information about the genocide perpetrated in their nation, [students] envision a peaceful Cambodia similar to the pre-1975 Cambodian society.”1ECCC Court Report, November 2015, Issue 91, p. 2 (emphasis added). Continue reading “Judgement by essay at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia results in public apology”

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Associated Press quotes Karnavas on eve of Khmer Rouge verdict

photogallery6-michael-courtroom-18-jul-12-3On the eve of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Trial Chamber’s pronouncement of the judgement in Case 002/01 against KHIEU Samphan and NUON Chea, the Associated Press asked experts, including Michael Karnavas, to discuss the significance of the trial.

Read the story:  With verdicts due, experts explain importance of trial of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge leaders

Al Jazeerah article quotes Karnavas on ECCC aspiration vs. actuality

ECCC_LogoI was recently asked by journalist Julia Wallace to provide some thoughts for an article she was writing for Al Jazeera, focusing whether the ECCC has had a positive impact on the Cambodian court system.  Though I was quoted correctly and reasonably in context, much of what I had provided was lost during the editing process. Since the article came out ( some have commented that my views are overly harsh and dismissive, or that I fail to acknowledge the challenges in Cambodia.   I think not, but you be the judge.  Here is the full text of what I provided to Ms. Wallace for the Al Jazeera article:

I have been involved in various projects over the past 20 years dealing with the Cambodian judicial system.  I am also a big supporter of harvesting what is useful and applicable from the ECCC, both procedurally and substantively, and to apply it in the regular courts.  (See my article, based on my presentation at the ECCC legacy conference: Bringing Domestic Cambodian Cases into Compliance with International Standards – Applicability of ECCC Jurisprudence and Procedural Mechanisms at the Domestic Level, posted on my blog  With this as a backdrop, I’ll attempt to provide some answers to your questions.

Continue reading “Al Jazeerah article quotes Karnavas on ECCC aspiration vs. actuality”

The Cambodia Daily Publishes Karnavas Op Ed: KRT Judges Maintain Pretense of Interest in Next Mini-Trial

KRT Judges Maintain Pretense of Interest in Next Mini-Trial

– December 16, 2013

By Michael G. Karnavas

During the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia’s (ECCC) Trial Management Meeting on Case 002, held December 11 and 12, the Trial Chamber entertained us with a marvelously farcical tragedy: Nothing ado about much, or, Why there will not be a Case 002/02, although we will pretend there will be one to keep hope alive.

It was captivating to see (and hear) how the judges came armed with all the answers as to why they could not possibly begin to hear evidence in Case 002/02 (as if they had even figured out what segments of Case 002 would even be heard) before completing the judgment in Case 002/01.

Where have they been, and what have they been doing? When did this occur to them? Why was this issue not addressed during the protracted (albeit belated) hearings on the legitimacy of the severance of Case 002? Why the pretense of this public trial management meeting? And, why delay discussing the proverbial elephant in the (court)room: When and to what extent will the next segment of Case 002 be tried?

Regrettably, this farcical comedy was about a real tragedy: The current judges of the ECCC’s Trial Chamber are not genuinely serious in trying the remaining segments of Case 002.

Continue reading “The Cambodia Daily Publishes Karnavas Op Ed: KRT Judges Maintain Pretense of Interest in Next Mini-Trial”

News and Events

  • On 24 February 2017, the Edward Elgar Publishing published a chapter co-authored by Kate Gibson, John RWD Jones QC, Michael G. Karnavas and Melinda Taylor, titled Regulation of the International Bar: The Particular Challenges for Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Courts and Tribunalsin Research Handbook on International Courts and Tribunals (William A. Schabas and Shannonbrooke Murphy eds., 2017). This chapter examines and evaluates the different structures (independent, internal and external) protecting and regulating the defence profession at the various international and mixed criminal courts and tribunals, and identifies defects and lacunae in the current infrastructure.
  • In November-December 2016, Michael G. Karnavas was selected by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Serbia as the International Consultant to make an assessment and submit a report with specific proposals for reform and improvement of the institutional and regulatory framework of the Attorney’s Academy (Academy) of the Bar Association of Serbia (BAS), and to recommend a detailed program for the organization of the training activities and a strategic plan for a long term (2-3 years) Continuing Legal Education program.  The BAS is a national “umbrella” bar for eight regional bars with approx. 8000 members. The BAS established the Academy in 2013 for the purpose of providing professional training for Serbian lawyers and trainees.  As part of the assessment, Mr. Karnavas went on two field visits (5-7 December and 18-21 December 2016) to conduct a series of interviews with the representatives of the BAS, the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Academy, civil societies, and NGOs. Mr. Karnavas submitted a preliminary report 29 December 2016.

Continue reading “News and Events”

The New RPE 134 Provisions: cowardly capitulation or pragmatic resolution?

ASP_2013Much of the commentary on the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) added provisions to Rules 134 (bis, ter and quater) of the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE), which ease the requirement for an accused to be physically present at trial, has been disdainful. But before we consider potential effects of these new provisions, or lack thereof, let’s first look at the substance.  Does the ICC Statute permit the Rules to be amended so accused – political leaders, no less – can be excused from attending parts of their trials due to “exceptional circumstances” or because of “extraordinary public duties”?  Were the amendments necessary?  Did the ASP exercise sound judgment?  Though the answers to these questions seem to be yes, guarded cynicism is justified.  From time to time, trial chambers will no doubt be tempted by the political siren calls for accommodation and realpolitik.  Implementing these added provisions to Rule 134 will require prudence, finesse and judiciousness. As they saying goes: the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Continue reading “The New RPE 134 Provisions: cowardly capitulation or pragmatic resolution?”

WSJ Features Michael Karnavas on Future of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

28 Oct 13 — The Wall Street Journal’s on-line edition of Southeast Asia – Real Time featured Michael Karnavas in a Q&A on the Future of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Michael Karnavas, an American defense lawyer, has spent more than a third of his 30-year career in international criminal justice, representing defendants in war crimes tribunals at The Hague and in Cambodia.    Click here to read the rest of the article.