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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KR court graft review unfairly names and shames, govt says

KR court graft review unfairly names and shames, govt says

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UN has yet to officially inform government of nature of corruption complaints made against Cambodian officials at UN-backed tribunal

Heng Chivoan

Sok An, shown here in a file photo, has written to the UN.

THE government has criticised a UN review of kickback complaints at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, saying that Cambodian officials have yet to be officially informed of the allegations and that the naming of more than one individual suspected of graft showed a lack of due process.

A statement released Friday by the Council of Ministers also says that the review, which was submitted to the government last week, failed to detail the complaints made against staff on the Cambodian side of the UN-backed court, amid allegations that some Cambodian tribunal employees were forced to hand over significant portions of their salaries to their bosses. 

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who has been corresponding with the UN over the graft scandal, has "expressed his concerns regarding lack of due process, including the naming of individuals who have not been informed of the charges against them", the statement said.

The exchange is the latest in a row over who should handle corruption allegations made against the Cambodian side of the court, which is being heavily funded by foreign donors.

The government maintains that a 2003 agreement on the tribunal "places responsibility for the management of the Cambodian staff on the Cambodian government, but until now none of these complaints have been presented to any competent Cambodian authority".

Court spokeswoman Helen Jarvis, one of the tribunal's two ethics monitors, said she had not yet seen the UN review, but reiterated that "we have never received [the complaints], no one has ever received them".

She did say that a recently formed government task force was investigating a fresh corruption complaint filed by a court employee last week.

Keeping a lid on corruption

According to an August circular by Sok An, all future complaints will now go directly to the ethics monitors, and will remain confidential until received by the task force.

Observers to the tribunal say that it is still unclear whether this process will be used for previous graft allegations once they are received by the government.

"We are concerned about how the government will deal with the allegations of the past once they are received," said Long Panhavuth of the legal NGO Open Society Justice Initiative.

"One of the greatest problems is the lack of information currently coming out of the court," Long Panhavuth said.

"It would be good for the court to release more information about what is going on so that people's trust can return." 

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