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Little advance in KRT funding-fix meetings

Two closed-door meetings between Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and the ambassadors of Japan and Australia yielded little in the way of concrete solutions to the funding crisis at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, a spokesman said.

Government spokesman Ek Tha, speaking to reporters just after the meetings, said that neither Japan nor Australia – the court’s largest and second-largest donors, respectively – had promised any new funds to the court’s national side. More than 130 national staffers are currently striking over unpaid salaries.

However, Tha said, Japanese Ambassador Yuji Kumamaru agreed in principle with An’s suggestion of taking a portion of its donations to the court’s international side, and diverting them to the national side.

“The most important thing is that Japan agreed to share an amount of its funds for the UN side to support the national side to move [the court] towards stability,” he added.

Embassy of Japan Counsellor Takayoshi Kuromiya said yesterday that Japan would continue to support the tribunal, but noted that his country had shouldered more than 40 per cent of the court’s total budget since its inception.

“As the ECCC was established based upon the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, it is important that a larger number of countries provide assistance so that the ECCC will be able to secure a stable budgetary basis,” he said in an email, adding that it was important that Cambodia “plays a further greater role to strengthen the budgetary basis of the ECCC”.

However, the embassy did not respond to questions about whether the ambassador had agreed to divert any donations to the national side.

Like Kuromiya, a spokesman for the Australian Embassy reiterated Australia’s support for the court, and noted that it was “concerned” by the current strike, but went on to “encourage the Royal Government of Cambodia and other donors to continue to contribute to a successful trial process”.

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