The ECCC Might Have Run Out of Funds By April 2008

Posted by khmernews on July 17, 2007

According to a Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s official who spoke in the condition of anonymity, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) for the prosecution on former Khmer Rouge leaders would have run out funds by early 2008, say, one year before the ending its 3 years term. The news has made observers and diplomats show their concern on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which has always been facing obstacles successively. Especially, the budgetary shortfall in the last year of its operation might become an obstacle to divert the people from justice.

Concerning the problem, Helen Jarvis, spokesman to the ECCC, has recently claimed that the budget can sustain till April 2008. “The ECCC is a bit concerned since it needs funds to complete the task well. However, it is looking for more funds,” she said. Observers of some civil society organizations said that the shortage of money is a new obstacle while the ECCC is under the eyes of Cambodians both living in Cambodia and abroad.

It should be noticed that the ECCC, known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, needs US$56.3 million for spending in 3 years. The Cambodian government agreed to provide US$13.3 million, but later on said that it didn’t have enough funds. For this reason, civil society organization’s officials have criticized the government for having no willingness in finding justice for the victims of the Killing Fields. If the government had willingness, US13.3 million is not a concern since the government has, so far, paid millions of dollars to the World Bank and World Food Program instead of corrupt officials.

Recently, because of the budgetary shortfall, officials of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and administrative officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have met to discuss and consider the salary cut of Cambodian staff, judges, and prosecutors. However, they reacted strongly and warned to walk away if the plan to cut their salary was carried out. The reaction has made the UNDP’s and Khmer Rouge administrative officials silenced and dare not to reveal the result of the meeting to the public.

So far, the adoption of the internal rules had been stuck for several months because the Cambodian Bar Association (CBA), led by Ky Tech, set the foreign registration fees too high. Now, the internal rules have been adopted, but a new financial crisis occurs. This is not a small problem since if the Khmer Rouge Tribunal cannot find enough budgets, it will be stuck in April 2008.

Living former Khmer Rouge leaders have been condemned for the massacre of 1.7 million Cambodian people during their reign of terror from April 17, 1975 to early January 1979. At the present, only has Kang Kek Ieu, known as Duch, former chief of Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison, been detained in prison awaiting trial after Chhit Choeun, former senior KR commander, died of illnesses in Preah Ket Mealea Hospital on July 21, 2006.

Other former Khmer Rouge leaders including Ieng Sary, Nuon Chea, Ieng Thirith, and Khieu Samphan are living freely. Observers of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have insisted on prosecuting the Khmer Rouge leaders as soon as possible so that Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan can reveal the truth in court since they are the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime and they cannot escape the accountabilities.

Analysts point out that if we look at the real situation at the present, the ECCC is becoming a worthless affair which has no dependable policies. Moreover, the Cambodian government seems to be unconcerned about finding the funds to fill in its counterparts as stated in the agreement [with the UN].

Informal Translation
-Extracted from Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, vol.14, #3079, Friday, July 6, 2007.


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