Frances Nguyen is a recent law graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School based in Portland, Oregon. In 2011, she traveled to Vietnam and Cambodia to study international criminal law. While in Phnom Penh, she visited the Killing Fields and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Her experience there inspired her to research and write about forced marriage. Last year, she spent a semester working at the Office of the Co-Prosecutors at the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT) in Cambodia. At UNAKRT, she worked with Prosecutors to ensure sex and gender-based crimes such as rape and forced marriage were thoroughly investigated and included alongside other crimes against humanity.
At Lewis & Clark, Frances became active in immigration law and civil rights. She volunteered at the Oregon Justice Resource Center by helping refugees fill out their paperwork to become naturalized US citizens. She worked as a law clerk at the Asian American Legal Defense Education Fund (AALDEF) in New York City by helping former labor trafficking victims to apply for a T-Visa. Before coming to law school, Frances worked as a consular aide at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, which serves as a de facto consulate for Taiwan. She holds an MA in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and Comparative Politics from Georgia State University (2009) and a BA in International Relations from Agnes Scott College (2005).
Frances’ introductory post today discusses the issue of consent in arranged and forced marriage. Heartfelt welcome!
Ieng Sary at a pre-trial detention hearing
Most IntLawGrrls readers have seen by now media reports of the death of Ieng Sary, the former foreign minister of the Khmer Rouge, last week. Many of these articles express concern about justice-related consequences for his victims, given that Sary was in the midst of trial at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. The focus has been on the trial process itself, and the harm has been portrayed as a loss of justice as victims will not have the opportunity to see Sary held guilty.
Though those concerns are important, the victims in Cambodia have another concern: the loss of Ieng Sary’s assets. Ieng Sary was a very rich man, and was reportedly responsible for the Khmer Rouge’s finances during and after the 1975-1979 period during which the regime controlled Cambodia. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, Sary also benefited from the proceeds of lucrative timber and gemstone sales in the northwest of Cambodia. He reportedly had access to a Hong Kong bank account containing (at one point) $20 million that the Chinese government sent to the Khmer Rouge. After Sary was pardoned by the Cambodian government in 1996, his Khmer Rouge colleagues denounced him for stealing $10 million dollars, likely from this account. At his death, he owned luxurious homes in Phnom Penh and Banteay Meanchey province. Had Sary been convicted of the crimes charged, victims might have been able to seize his assets and use them for reparations. With his wife Ieng Thirith having been declared unfit for trial, these assets will no longer be accessible through the ECCC process.
Were the Cambodian government to request assistance obtaining these assets, the World Bank and UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative might be able to track them down. But most observers are skeptical of the Cambodian government’s willingness to do so, or their ability to then distribute Sary’s ill-gotten wealth in a transparent and fair manner.
(credit for photo above right)