Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KRT could face major layoffs, Scheffer tells staffers

KRT could face major layoffs, Scheffer tells staffers

KRT could face major layoffs, Scheffer tells staffers

Members of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Photograph: ECCC
Hundreds of international employees at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal could be laid off at the end of the year due to a severe funding shortfall, staffers were told Friday morning in a confidential meeting with UN Special Expert David Scheffer.

According to a source who attended the closed-door meeting, the court needs $3 million to make up a 2012 budget shortfall and another $5 million for the first quarter of 2013.

If the shortfall is not met, contracts will likely not be renewed at the end of the year, the source said.

Since late last year, contracts have been awarded only on a month-to-month basis because of the UN's inability to guarantee long-term payment, while a hiring freeze – in place since July – has prevented the court from replacing outgoing personnel.

Compounding difficulties, Scheffer told the staffers, is the recent pullout by a donor country that had previously pledged to make up the 2012 shortfall.

He did not disclose which country.

The announcement comes just days after the court's Trial Chamber stunned lawyers, donors and trial observers by announcing that the inability to replace half its staff had led to a backlog of work, which could be rectified only by cutting back on the number of days judges sat and heard testimony.

While the court has routinely struggled with financial woes, the past year has proven an especially difficult one for both the Cambodian and international sides.

Cambodian staffers went months without pay, while an unusually late submission of the proposed budget earlier this year left the international side scrambling to piece together funds from donors who had pledged their aid elsewhere months earlier.

It is unclear what will happen if the shortfall is not met. In a report released last month to the UN General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the court's financial crisis "could jeopardize the judicial proceedings before the Chambers."

To contact the reporter on this story: Abby Seiff at [email protected]


  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all