REPRESENTATIVES of the Cambodian government and the United Nations met with donor countries yesterday in an attempt to drum up support for Cambodia’s cash-strapped war crimes tribunal.
Government officials and representatives from 22 countries joined Clint Williamson, the UN’s special expert to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the Khmer Rouge tribunal, to discuss fundraising and a completion strategy for the court.
“We ask you to continue to give full support to the tribunal and its endeavour to bring justice to victims of the Khmer Rouge,” Deputy Prime Minister Sok An told the gathering.
The UN side of the hybrid court faces a budgetary shortfall of US$6.4 million for this year and $29.8 million for 2011, according to Chan Tani, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers; the Cambodian side faces shortfalls of $7.7 million for next year and $1 million this year, he said. A report issued last week by the Open Society Justice Initiative said the national side is short $3.6 million for this year.
Japanese Ambassador Masafumi Kuroki urged donors to come forward with donations, calling increased funding “crucial” as the court prepares for its second trial. Sok An noted that the court is “the least expensive of all existing UN-assisted tribunals”.
Court monitors have alleged that the government has failed to offer full support to the tribunal, citing a decision by six senior government officials to ignore summonses to testify in the court’s second case. Sok An said yesterday, however, that the government was committed to the work of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, as the tribunal is formally known.
“The Royal Government of Cambodia is committed to ending impunity for the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge,” Sok An said. “We fully support the ECCC, and respect its independent judicial process.”