UN and Cambodian Government suffering from $8.9 million Budgetary Shortfall for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Posted by khmernews on January 31, 2007

By Somnang

Until now, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has faced many crucial problems which have slowed down its progress. Besides the undecided internal rules, the funding is another concern because the tribunal now faces a shortfall of several million dollars. Moreover, political intervention concerning a claim by the Cambodian Bar Association to play a bigger role in the court have also played their part in the process.

Miss Seng Theary, the director of Social Development Center, requested on January 12th for the contribution from Cambodian company directors and millionaires in funds for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal so that it will run smoothly to find the justice for the victims. She said that after Microsoft Singapore, a division of the US computer giant Microsoft Corp, donated $100,000 in funds for the Extraordinary Cambers in the Court of Cambodia(ECCC) Cambodians themselves should join in all processes of the tribunal however making sure that it doesn’t affect the rules and verdicts of the court.

Miss Seng Theary added that since the ECCC was established in Cambodia for the interest of Cambodians, the government must honour their promises and contribute the funding they have pledged. In response to Miss Seng Theary’s claim, Khiev Khanarrith, the minister of the Ministry of Information and the spokesman for the government and the ruling party said that the government has accomplished what they have promised. “The government cannot put all the funds into the ECCC account, but we will try to respond to the ECCC’s annual expenses.”

Helen Jarvis, chief of public affairs at the ECCC, said the $56-million tribunal has a budgetary shortfall of $4 million on the UN side and $4.9 million on the Cambodian government side. This shortfall is blocking the progress of the tribunal and since the government seems to be trying to control the tribunal, the general public seem to lack confidence in this tribunal.     

The UN and Cambodian government hope that the Tribunal will be started in June, 2007 in order that former senior Khmer Rouge leaders take the responsibility of the mass killings of nearly 2million people from 1975 to 1979. However, some international observers and ambassadors believe that the tribunal won’t be started in June, 2007 since the internal rules have not yet been passed. Moreover, the UN and Cambodian government have this budgetary shortfall of $8.9 million.

Chea Sim, the president of the senate and the president of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) said on January 7th, 2007 that the CPP is in favor of the Extraordinary Chambers under Cambodian laws to sentence the crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime. Moreover, he also attacked those who have criticized the delayed Tribunal. As for the Prime Minister Hun Sen, he said that the Khmer Rouge trial must go ahead.

Some NGOs’ officials have said that the ruling CPP party is unwilling to find the justice for the victims through the tribunal as the government has still not contributed its full funds. Another noticeable reason why they claim this is that the Cambodian Bar Association directed by Ky Tech has argued for a larger role in the tribunal and this has ben said to be politically backed since Ky Tech has suddenly invented these problems to block the smooth running of the tribunal.

The Khmer Rouge regime is accused of killing nearly 2 million innocent people under their control from April 17th, 1975 to early January, 1979. At the present only Kang Khech Eav called Douch, former Toul Sleng prison(S-21) chief has been held in custody in the military prison as Ta Mok died of the sickness in Preah Ketomealea hospital on July 21st, 2006. Other senior Khmer Rouge leaders including Eang Sary, Noun Chea, Eang Thirith and Kiev Sophorn are living freely with assistance from the government.  

All Cambodians want the tribunal to start soon as they want to understand the reasoning behind  the mass killings of the Khmer Rouge regime. If the tribunal is delayed further, the former senior Khmer Rouge leaders might all die before it starts and the expense of $56.3 million will have been useless and no justice will have been found for the victims.

Military court officials said that Kang Khech Eav called Douch, former Toul Sleng prison chief, is in custody at the military prison and will be transferred to be detained in the newly built ECCC special prison cells as soon as possible. At present, the ECCC and military court officials are completing the procedures of the transfer.

Adopted from Somleng Yuvachoun Khmer, Vol:14 #2943, Sunday-Monday, January 14-15th, 2007


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