University of Pittsburgh
November 20, 2007

Appeals Hearing for Khmer Rouge Official Offers Cambodians Hope That Justice Will Be Done, Says Pitt Legal Expert

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-"Not only is Tuesday's hearing for alleged Khmer Rouge senior official Kaing Guek Eav a historic event for the people of Cambodia, representing the first step in prosecuting the individuals responsible for the deaths of nearly two million Cambodians in the 1970s, but also it represents a potential paradigm shift in the cooperation between international organizations and nations recovering from serious human rights abuses," notes D. Wes Rist, assistant director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for International Legal Education.

According to Rist, in similar international situations special tribunals were staffed by United Nations employees and presided over by international experts. These courts were criticized for being Westernized justice only, with no place for domestic concepts of what the actual victims of the crimes needed.

"The appeals hearing offers the people of Cambodia hope that justice will be done while the Khmer Rouge's victims are still alive to appreciate it, while also providing affirmation to the United Nations that the core of international rights associated with the concept of a fair trial will be observed," said Rist.

Rist holds a J.D. degree from Pitt's School of Law and an LL.M. degree with Distinction in International Human Rights Law from the University of the West of England (UWE), in Bristol, UK. Rist was a visiting lecturer for two years at UWE and taught courses on international criminal law, European human rights law and crime, and international law and institutions. He will be teaching the course Terrorism and the Law in the spring at Pitt.