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Internship Report of ECCC

1.International Criminal Law

International criminal law is a branch of public international law. Its purpose is to punish serious crimes that threaten the international community. International criminal law only deals with the core crimes of genocide, war crimes, aggression and crimes against humanity in its system. However, from the International Military Tribunals after World War II, to the International Criminal Court, to the International Criminal Tribunals of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, a large number of complex precedents have emerged. At the same time, the interpretation of the statutes of international criminal law also involves the game between the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and different legal systems and legal traditions, thus forming the discipline of international criminal law.

2.Introduction of ECCC

ECCC is a special court established by agreement between the Cambodian government and the United Nations in 2003. The purpose of ECCC is to assist Cambodia by the United Nations in investigating and hearing crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the period of the Communist Party of Cambodia (Khmer Rouge). ECCC is a very special international criminal court, because it has two systems, domestic and international. On the one hand, the substantive law of the court is the ECCC Statute. On the other hand, it follows the domestic law of Cambodia as a procedural rule. At the same time, each organ and Department of the court is composed of two sets of persons, Cambodian lawyers and international lawyers. The judgment must be passed by the principle of majority.

Generally speaking, in ECCC, the handling of cases is divided into five stages. In the first stage, the prosecutor's office will file a case, collect evidence and bring a lawsuit. Secondly, the prosecutor submits closing brief to the investigating judge's office, and the investigating judge determines the charges and confirms the evidence. Thirdly, the investigating judge issued closing order to transfer the case to the Pre-trial chamber, whose role is mainly to supervise the work of the prosecutor and protect the right to fair trial of the defendant, and then confirm the charges on the premise of ensuring the legality of the procedure. Fourthly, the case reaches the Trial Chamber, which consists of three Cambodian judges and two international judges. Fifthly, if any party appeals after receiving the judgment, the case will be tried by the Supreme Court, which is also the final judgment.

During the fifteen years since the establishment of ECCC, two cases (Case 001 and Case 002/01) have been concluded. The third case (Case 002/02) just announced Summary Judgment on November 16, 2018, which is about to enter the appeal process. The other two cases (Case 003 and Case 004) are still under investigation. This seems to confirm the widespread questioning of the International Criminal Court: inefficiency. Actually, on the one hand, the scope of cases dealt with by international criminal law is vast, the number of victims is trillions, and the investigation and evidence collection work is very time-consuming and manpower-consuming. On the other hand, the internal rules of ECCC require that all documents of the court should be translated into English, French and Khmer, while the documents of the court are often hundreds or even thousands of pages, so the translation work is extremely heavy. In addition, the involvement of the two sets of personnel and decision-making systems of the Court can lead to some inefficiencies. For example, in the Office of the investigating judge recently, two different closing order were issued by domestic and international judges due to differences over the eligibility of the accused. At the same time, the prosecutor's office also appealed against closing order of domestic judges, which brought more complicated procedures for the trial of cases.

3.Why choose ECCC?

After participating in the English Competition of the International Criminal Court Moot Court in 2018, I found that international criminal law is an area where I am very enthusiastic to develop. So I applied for the internship position of ECCC. After sending my resume and telephone interview, I was lucky to receive the acceptance notice. I chose the prosecutor's office for this internship. First, it is the place where all cases begin. Here, I can see the operation of the whole court and the process of case trial more comprehensively. Second, because I played the role of defendant's lawyer in ICC competition, I want to stand on the victim's side to see the problem this time. After the internship began, I was more convinced of my original choice. The prosecutor had the largest number of interns in the whole court, and had colleagues from France, the United States, Italy, Australia, India and other parts of the world. They all had rich internship experience in international organizations, multilingual working ability and L.L.M. academic background, and worked with a group of outstanding peers. It is a kind of different "teaching is mutually beneficial". The communication between different cultures bridges many stereotypes and promotes the understanding between people, countries and countries.

In ECCC, each intern will be assigned a lawyer as supervisor, responsible for arranging, inspecting and feedback all the work during the internship. These lawyers are all staff members or consultants of the United Nations. Before entering the United Nations system, they are often excellent lawyers or judges in their own countries. They not only have rich legal practice experience, but also have in-depth research in the field of international public law. During the internship, every interaction with the supervisor is a very beneficial learning process, and they will be patiently and meticulously guided and helped. Exchange with every other lawyer will bring many unexpected benefits, such as the office's biweekly legal talk event, which will introduce and discuss the current hot issues of international law and human rights law. The Guantanamo case, anti-human crimes in Philippine drug control activities have become the theme of discussion. In addition, the office also has career talk, each time a lawyer shares their professional experience and gives advice and experience to the younger generation who are interested in this field.


During my three-month internship, one of my deepest tasks was to draft a response to the defendant's questioning of two key witnesses in his final statement in the upcoming appeal against Case 002/02, proving the validity and validity of the testimony of the two witnesses. This part of the work lasted more than half a month. The first step is to examine all the footnotes cited by the defendants in detail and return to the original document to see if their evidence supports their claims. The second step is to read Closing Brief submitted by the Public Prosecutor's Office and sort out all the facts of the testimony of the two witnesses we used. The third step is to return to the witness testimony itself, read the full text to see whether there is consistency, whether there are case details, whether other witness testimony can be verified. The fourth step is to start drafting after having a thorough and detailed understanding of the witness's evidence. After reading more than forty witness testimonies and sorting out more than seventy pages of analysis forms, the final draft response is only six pages short, and if lucky, this part of the content will take up a small proportion in the prosecution's appeal. In this process, all the work has made me feel a very sense of responsibility and achievement.


The most important part of the resume is to highlight the relevant advantages for the job.

Oral English is very important. It enables you to adapt quickly to the working environment, integrate into the collective, and communicate effectively.

Although the length of internship is important, as a student, it is more important to maintain the coherence of work when long-term internship can not be guaranteed.

Don't be too anxious. Do what you want to do at the best age.


It's hard to find what you want and to do what you love, so the experience of these three months is precious. What's more, among all the lawyers and colleagues in the ECCC prosecutor's office, I can see the flickering idealism, the friendliest interpersonal relationships, support and encouragement, which make me firm in my determination to continue on this road. As Churchill said, "This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, but it may be the end of the beginning."