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EU to help government cut tribunal spending

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The European Union will help the government trim costs at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, with the aim of recouping badly needed funds, a government spokesman said yesterday.

Speaking following a closed door meeting between EU Ambassador Jean-François Cautain and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Council of Ministers communications chief Om Chandara said the officials agreed to draw up a revised administration plan for the embattled court.

“The two parties have agreed to revise the infrastructure of the tribunal, especially looking into ways to reduce unnecessary staff in order to reduce expenses. They will set up a strategy plan to seek for financial support from donor friends of the tribunal,” said Chandara.

The Cambodian side of the court has been battling a $7 million shortfall in funding for the year.

Early this month, at least 30 staffers went on strike  over non-payment of salary.

Though they ended it two weeks later, Cambodian employees of the court have yet to be paid salaries since December. Sok An has held a number of meetings, calling for foreign funding, but thus far, all recent donations have been to the international side of the court.

Under the ECCC law, the Cambodian government retains the responsibility of paying national staff. Officials have repeatedly said, however, the government has no available funds.

Chandara called the agreement a preliminary one and said it would be “up to the ECCC’s administration to work it out”.

Court spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the administration has repeatedly revised its infrastructure and reduced staff regularly since 2009 to cut costs.

“At least 10 to 20 staff members were cut each year due to finished contracts and projects,” Pheaktra said, adding that he believed further cuts would be possible.  

“The revising will not cause the staff to be angry, because we will focus on the contracts and projects that could not be continued,” said Pheaktra.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at sokheng.vong@phnompenhpost.com

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