Khmernews

Lack of Funds Worries Civil Society’s Officials

Posted by khmernews on December 28, 2007

Chan Chamnan

The budgetary problem the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is facing has concerned civil society organizations’ officials, and some officials have voiced their concerns over the future of the hybrid tribunal. “Can Khmer Rouge Tribunal go forward or will it be halted in the middle of the process when the remaining funds have run out in April 2008?” they questioned.

“Victims who have been waiting for more than 28 years firmly hope that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal can seek justice for them because the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is moving forward smoothly. However, they become hopeless when they have heard that the tribunal is facing budgetary shortfalls of $8 million of $56.3 million,” said Kim Eng Yong, director of People Center for Development and Peace (PDP).

“I am worried about justice for Cambodians and especially about the process of the tribunal to find justice for the people,” Kim Eng Yong added.

“If more funds cannot be found to complete the budget in the near future, the process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal may be obstructed, and especially it will have the consequences on the victims and witnesses,” said Hisham Mousar, a legal counselor for the rights group Adhoc. However, hopes that there will be no negatives effects on the hybrid tribunal since at the moment there are many donors including the United States.

Hisham Mousar claimed that what he was concerned was that the “opaque” expense of the Cambodian side would lower the quality and efficiency of the trial that Cambodians had expected.

However, Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s Spokesman Reach Sambath still claimed that the process of the tribunal would be going on without any obstruction. “Although there is shortage of funds and need of time for one more year to finish the process of the Khmer Rouge trial, the United Nations and donors will not let the tribunal be halted,” said Reach Sambath.

“They are thinking about the problem, and we are optimistic that the court will receive enough funds to continue its process,” said Reach Sambath. “What we are doing is very positive, and we are also appreciated by other international courts,” he said. The spokesman said that it was planned that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal would spend 3 years and $56.3 million, but that the tribunal still lacked more than $8 million.

Meanwhile, international court experts estimate that the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders will not be finished in 3 years and it needs to be extended through 2010 and requires more than $100 million.

Khmer Rouge regime has been condemned for mass killings of at least 1.7 million Cambodians between April 17, 1975 and early January 1979. Currently, five former senior Khmer Rouge leaders and people most responsible for the Khmer Rouge regime are being detained at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal awaiting trial in mid-2008. However, amongst them no one dares to admit responsibilities for the mass murder during their reign of terror.

Those five Khmer Rouge leaders include Nuon Chea, former president of the National Assembly and Brother Number Two of the Khmer Rouge regime, Khieu Samphan, former president of the Khmer Rouge State Presidium, Ieng Sary, former deputy prime minister, minister of foreign affairs and Bother Number Three of the Khmer Rouge regime, Ieng Thirith, whose original name was Khieu Thirith, former social affairs minister, and Kaing Guek Eav, a.k.a. Duch, former Tuol Sleng prison’s chairman.

The five suspects have been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes and will be tried by the Extraordinary Chambers.

On November 20-21, 2007 the Khmer Rouge Tribunal held the hearing of the appeal by Duch’s Co-Lawyers against order of his provisional detention. It should be noticed that many people participated in the court. On December 3, 2007 the Pre-Trial Chamber’s Judges announced the verdict to continue to detain Kaing Guek Eav and explain clearly the reasons Duch is not allowed to stay outside detention. The rule of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s Judges has received great support from civil society’s officials, national and international observers and all Cambodians.

On February 4, 2007 the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will hold the hearing of appeal by Nuon Chea’s Co-Lawyers against his provisional detention.  However, many people predict that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will not grant bail to Nuon Chea since the former president of the National Assembly of the Khmer Rouge regime has been charged with severe crimes like crimes against humanity and war crimes. Besides, the appeal by Ieng Sary’s and Ieng Thirith’s Co-Lawyers will not have different results from that of Kaing Guek Eav.

Cambodians living inside and outside the country want the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders to get underway as soon as possible in order to reveal the founders of the Khmer Rouge regime and the reasons of the mass killings of more than 1.7 million people during the “Killing Fields” regime which lasted three years, eight months, and twenty days. Especially, they want to know countries which were strongly supporting the Khmer Rouge regime, although the law of the Khmer Rouge trial does not state the trial of related countries.

Observers of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have noticed that the five former senior Khmer Rouge leaders, especially Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, who are being detained at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, are very old and menaced by illnesses. Therefore, their trials should be held as soon as possible so that the Khmer Rouge leaders can tell the truth of the mass murder during the Killing Fields time.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol. 14, #3346, Tuesday, December 25, 2007.
 

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