The United States Decides not to Fund Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Posted by khmernews on December 13, 2006

The United States congress decided not to aid Khmer Rouge tribunal due Washington’s suspicion about Cambodian judges’ participation in the trials which was unlikely to respect to international standards.
US ambassador to Cambodia, Joseph A.Mussomeli said on August 9th, 2006 that we were not sure if the tribunal had followed international standards as it has just started. It was too soon for us to decide about such problems. When our embassy is confident in the trials process we will make recommendations to fund the court. The ambassador also said “I strongly believe that the trials will just be a joke”.

If the tribunal could convince Condoleezza Rice that the trial process is fair and transparent then the trials would get funding. Mussomeli who has supported the idea of the Khmer Rouge tribunal from the beginning and who has written much about the mass killings of the Khmer Rouge has not definitively turned down funding for the trials but is keeping a close watch on the tribunal to ensure that it is fair and transparent.. “We are looking into directly funding the tribunal but we are concerned about the capacity of the Cambodian judges’ to be impartial” the ambassador said.

“Transparency, political influence and the quality of the judges are three main concerns for US congress,” he added.  Khmer Rouge trials are continuing slowly with funds from the Cambodian government and the UN and will need three years to find the documents and prepare records in order to complete the trials.

The tribunal does not have enough funding but this will not halt our work. We have sufficient budget for the first two year, said Helen Jarvis, public affairs officer for the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

The United States which had idea to create the tribunal but has not agreed to fund it has got seriously criticized by analysts.

“The United States was involved in the bombing of many Cambodian people during Khmer Rouge regime, it must be responsible for how it acted. “I believe that there are two important reasons why the US has not funded the tribunal: firstly there are a few influential policy-makers that do not want to fund the tribunal and secondly U.S foreign policy does not fund any trial that will not meet international standards and currently the fear is that the Khmer Rouge Trials will not meet these standards,” said Seng Theary, executive director of the Center for Social Development. “The trials have already been created following Cambodian law which will be an obstacle to following international standards .Mussomeli has also said that the laws governing the tribunal have shown their limitations now and that because of this, the United States cannot fund the tribunal.

However, the US has donated seven to nine million dollars for DC-Cam which records and preserves the history of the Khmer Rouge period for future generation and compiles and organizes information that could serve as potential evidence in a court of law for crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge.

Along with 29 judges and prosecutors, 17 are high ranking officers within the CPP and most of them are not knowledgeable about genocide law or crimes against humanity. Besides, Cambodian judges and prosecutors do not speak English and French fluently and some do not even speak Khmer well. After the Cambodian judges were announced in June, criticism has come from every corner over the capability and knowledge and the political allegiance of the judges.

All of these reasons have made the United States and investigators skeptical that the Khmer Rouge tribunal will progress with transparency, justice and abide by international standards.

Extracted from: Sralanh Khmer Newspaper, 02-179, Sunday, August 13, 2006


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