Cambodian Personnel’s Salary Reduction Plan Might Be Cancelled

Posted by khmernews on July 2, 2007

The plan on the reduction of Cambodian staff’s, judges’ and prosecutors’ salaries have made these people unhappy, and they’ve threatened to walk out of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal while civil society organization’s officials claimed that if the salaries of the Cambodian staff, judges and prosecutors are cut, the Extraordinary Chambers will face the deadlock. After receiving many reactions from various groups, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) might call the plan off since it can be an obstruction to the process of the trials on the living former Khmer Rouge leaders.

In a press release on June 26 on the meeting last Friday, UNDP’s officials, Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s administrative officials and European Commission did not show the results of the meeting on the salary cut plan of Cambodian staff, judges and prosecutors. However, it was claimed in the press release that Cambodian side in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal accepted all the recommendations from the UN side.

Reach Sambath, spokesman to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) or the Khmer Rouge court, claims that the salary cut issue hasn’t been discussed yet.

It should be noticed that Cambodian judges and prosecutors have warned directly that they would walk out if their salaries are cut by 45 percent. The warning has been made after news broke out that the UNDP was insisting the Cambodian side to reduce from 30% to 45% of Cambodian staff’s, judges’ and prosecutors’ salaries, or the budgets for Cambodian side would have run out by early next year. Because of the plan, the UNDP has been criticized that the UNDP is humiliating the process of finding justice for victims of the Killing Fields.

Out of US$ 56.3 million, the Cambodian side has to be responsible for the spending of US$ 13.3 million which it still hasn’t found enough budgets yet. According to a joint press statement made on Tuesday, there has been an agreement between Cambodian side and the UN side on work plan and financial matter for 2007 and other discussions will be done in the following months. Both national and international judges and prosecutors didn’t give any comments on the results of the meeting yet and they claimed that they hadn’t received information yet.

Civil society’s officials who have observed the Khmer Rouge Tribunal notice that the financial problem is a new obstacle adding to numerous obstacles which have happened so far. Those obstacles include the foreign lawyer registration fees caused by the Cambodian Bar Association, which has made the deadlock in passing the internal rules. No one can tell whether the trials on former senior Khmer Rouge leaders will be able to be held in early 2008 or not since through the observation, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal might be facing many more obstacles.

Concerning the problem, ‘Isa Mosa’, Adhoc’s Khmer Rouge trials coordinator, believes that the UN will not allow the old crisis to happen again. However, some people think in the opposite way since so far even a minor problem could block the process of the tribunal. And the financial problem which is related to million dollars is not a small issue because Cambodian judges and prosecutors are not happy with the plan to cut their salaries in the middle of the process like this.

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal has been started for over one year since the commencement of its Office of Administration in February, 2006. While the tribunal has its term of three years, there have been a lot of concerns on the delays of its judicial process as the victims of the Killing Fields have been waiting longingly for justice. Moreover, some Cambodian people don’t even have faith on the tribunal because since its establishment it has done nothing but interminably faced obstacles. Especially, the suspicion on corruption makes the tribunal carry a not-so-good reputation while the UN seems to try to conceal the audit results on the corruption.

The general public wants the trials on former Khmer Rouge leaders to be held as soon as possible so that the living Khmer Rouge leaders can clarify the reasons behind the crimes in the Killing Fields. If there are any more delays, those aging former Khmer Rouge leaders including Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea, Ieng Thirith, and Khieu Samphan might die one after another before the trials take place since at the present they are very old and some are with serious illnesses.

Some civil society’s officials recommend that the UNDP must abandon the salary cut plan on the Cambodian staff, judges and prosecutors as their salaries are only half of those of the international staff, judges and prosecutor already. On the other hand, the UN and the Cambodian government should try to find funds to fill up the budgets. If they really have a willingness to find justice for victims, the financial problem shouldn’t be a concern.

Informal Translation
-Extracted from Samleng Yuvachun, vol.14, #3073, Thursday, June 28, 2007.


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