How can psychological knowledge help legal professionals in their work with victims in the context of the Cambodian trials?


Trials against the Khmer Rouge leaders started in 2009. In these trials young lawyers were involved as monitors, in addition to local and international judges. The professionals were confronted with traumatized survivors of genocide and crimes against humanity. Many of these individuals had suffered from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, which, amongst others, had severely impeded memory processes. Although these disturbances directly influenced the trial situation, judges knew little about them. The research project therefore aimed at bridging the gap between psychological and legal knowledge.

In a further phase, psychological trainings for the legal professional and young lawyers were undertaken. The research compared psychological and legal reports on the same hearings, and established/evaluated continuous psychological training and supervision of the monitors/lawyers of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) during the trials. Finally, reconciling psychological and legal knowledge not only allowed judges to interact more consistently with victims and witnesses, but it also contributed to the overall purpose of the Court: to establish reconciliation.

Project Keywords

  • Decision making
  • Education
  • Governance
  • Human rights
  • International cooperation
  • International humanitarian law
  • Conflict management
  • Dispute settlement
  • Psychology


  • Health / Medicine
  • Law
  • Psychology

Relevant Countries

  • Cambodia
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • United States of America


This project, started in 2009, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Julia Müller
University of Zurich

Jane Herlihy
Centre for the Study of Emotion and Law

David Cohen
Associated Member
University of California

Ulrike Ehlert
Associated Member
University of Zurich

Brigitte Tag
Associated Member
University of Zurich