Khmernews

Great Khmer Rouge Tribunal Exhausts [Funds]

Posted by khmernews on December 28, 2007

Roth Visal

The five former Khmer Rouge leaders who are in custody awaiting trial next year are the remaining leaders of the murderous regime which was overthrown 3 decades ago. The Khmer Rouge Tribunal, organized to try these leaders, is claimed to be on the way towards justice, but running out of money.

The possibility of the tribunal moving smoothly forward will depend completely on the funds from foreign donors. However, the donors have criticized the tribunal for corruption and mismanagement of the funds and want the tribunal to clear up their financial issues and to make more transparent before they inject more funds to continue its process.

Generally, the tribunal is said to have taken a great positive move towards justice through the public hearing of the appeal by Kaing Guek Eav, known as Comrade Duch, former chairman of Tuol Sleng prison, last month against the order of his provisional detention in public. Kaing Guek Eav and 4 suspected, including Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Khieu Samphan presently are detained in ECCC’s detention facility pending the trial against crime against humanity and war crime.

Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s officials said they had a lot to do in the trial to find justice for nearly two million Cambodian victims who had died of unjustifiable reasons at the end of the 1970s.

The tribunal is appealing for more funds in addition to the planned budget of $56.3 million because it is expected to be extended through 2010.

“The funds will have run out in the middle of 2008 due to expenses on services which are not in the budget plan,” said Khmer Rouge UN Spokesman Peter Foster. “We are not talking about the purchases of a Mercedes and a helicopter. We are talking about the important issues of this international tribunal,” he said.

The tribunal has not commented directly on the additional amount of money it needs. However, Helen Jarvis, Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s Public Affairs Chief appointed by the Royal Government of Cambodia, raised some examples of needs for the work such as the need for more interpreters and translators from 14 at the present to 40, and victim supports, as long as other necessary services the tribunal would require.

Countries and institutions which provide funds to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have expressed their concerns over the expenses of the tribunal since it was formed until now and then a UN’s report revealed the mismanagements of the administration in the tribunal, which included the corruption allegations and criticism of abnormal financial management.  Another irregularity is about the duty and responsibility of Cambodian and foreign staff working under Cambodian law.

“It is expected that the donors will provide more funds if the tribunal can show its clear accountability, effective process and without corruption,” said David Scheffer, former U.S. ambassador for war crimes and currently Northwestern University law professor in Chicago.

U.S. Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said that “The United States does not primarily provided funds to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal yet, considering whether to fund the tribunal or not, the U.S. was observing the ability and impartiality of the tribunal.” adding that “If we would decide that the current process of the tribunal conforms to the international standards, it seems we are not responsible for using funds we get from American taxation, it had to be waited until [the U.S.] believed that the tribunal was well undertaken.”

The corruption allegations were made earlier this year when New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative’s legal group accused Cambodian staff of bribing government officials to work in the tribunal.

The country that the corruption became civil servants’ life path, jobs in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal getting high paid are the cause of competition for the employment. Although, getting half of salary from tribunal in comparison with UN-appointed staff, Cambodian staff still get salary ranging from $2,300 to $5280 per month, it is still high salary in the country. 

Jarvis has overruled the alleged corruption and it was only rumor. The UNDP’s audit in June in order to check Cambodian side’s budget in the tribunal did prove evidence of kick-off. Even though UNDP said that the majority of recruited Cambodian staff didn’t fulfill minimum of job requirements.

Another UN’s report also in June alleged that the two administrative systems, Cambodian and UN, could only make it complicated to find justice.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Sralanh Khmer, Vol. 03, #586, Thursday, December 27, 2007.

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