A financial shortfall, fewer defendants on trial and a revised budget mean that the national staff at the Khmer Rouge tribunal will face a 10 per cent reduction in personnel beginning in June, according to a court spokesman.
Neth Pheaktra, public information officer for the national side of the hybrid court, said in an email that an annual audit of staffing to ensure cost-effectiveness isn’t new, but now, due to recent financial constraints, “we review our staffing for two times: from June and at the end of this year.”
He said that all the departments in which the 267 employees work on the national side – including general service, judicial bodies and public affairs – will be affected, but that some of the upcoming reductions will come through abolishing vacant posts and not renewing contracts.
Even with planned cost-cutting, a loan from the UN, pledges from the Cambodian government – which is responsible for funding the national side – and Germany, Pheaktra said that the national side is still short almost $4 million for the 2013 budget.
The measures come on the heels of talks between European Union Ambassador Jean-François Cautain and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An at the end of March, when a spokesman said officials had agreed to put together a revised administration plan for the court that included trimming expenses.
March was a tumultuous month at the court, marked by the death of defendant Ieng Sary and the first-ever labour strike due to unpaid salaries on the national side.
Though the boycott didn’t last long, a second walkout scheduled for April 1 was only averted at the last minute with an infusion of $2 million from the court’s international side.
National staffers have been paid through March and expect be paid this week for April, according to someone familiar with the matter. Since April 8 – not counting a break for Khmer New Year – the court has gone back to its daily business of hearing witness testimony in Case 002.