Statement on misuse of Tuol Sleng photographs

April 12, 2021
The Genocide Studies Program is dismayed by the publication of doctored photographs from the Tuol Sleng prison archive by Matthew Loughrey, a designer affiliated with VICE media. These photos are of incarcerated, often tortured individuals, who were subsequently murdered by the Khmer Rouge regime during the Cambodian Genocide of 1975-79. The preserved original photographs serve as a solemn reminder of lives lost, and more broadly of the horrors of that episode in humanity’s shared history. They are not material for an intellectual exercise or art project, and should never be used in that way.

The Genocide Studies Program maintains and displays digital copies of the unaltered original versions of these photographs among the extensive archives in its online Cambodian Genocide Data Bases. We do so with the express permission of the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide, which allows the GSP to display the prisoner photographs, but not to give permission to third parties to reproduce them. We have had no contact with Mr. Loughrey or VICE media, and have not given anyone permission to reproduce (let alone alter) these photographs. If so requested, we routinely explain that we cannot grant such permission. Any third party wishing to reproduce photos from our Tuol Sleng prisoner photograph database (CTS) must contact the copyright holder, the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide, through Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, in order to request their permission.