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Tribunal graft monitor silent on activity report

Tribunal graft monitor silent on activity report

THE office of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s anticorruption monitor had yet to release a report on its activities as of Tuesday, despite the fact that an official there said earlier this year that such a report would be made public “in April or May”.

Last August, National Audit Authority (NAA) head Uth Chhorn was appointed to be the first independent counsellor for the tribunal, charged with monitoring and addressing allegations of corruption and misconduct.

In March, Prom Vicheth Sophorn, deputy director of the NAA’s Audit Department 3, said the office was set to release a public report of its activities after consulting with UN and government officials.

He said at the time that the independent counsellor’s office was in the process of investigating three complaints: two alleged wrongful dismissals and an allegation that members of the court’s security staff had been forced to pay kickbacks to their superiors.

Uth Chhorn said Tuesday that he was “too busy” to discuss the issue, and referred questions to his deputies. Prom Vicheth Sophorn and Auditor General cabinet officer Chea Sophat could not be reached for comment.

The independent counsellor’s office was established in part to satisfy donor concerns about corruption at the court. A press release issued by the government and UN at the time of Uth Chhorn’s appointment did not mention an obligation for the office to make its findings public, saying that the independent counsellor was to carry out his responsibilities “in strict confidentiality”, aside from reporting to the government and the UN.

Long Panhavuth, a project officer at the Cambodia Justice Initiative, said it is important that the independent counsellor’s office make its findings public “to demonstrate that it is working to stop the corruption or the malpractice within the ECCC, and also to build confidence from international institutions”.

“I would say that from the beginning ... one of the problems that concerned us was the transparency in the operations of that office,” Long Panhavuth said, though he added that the office needs to balance this obligation with protections for whistleblowers.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Tuesday that he was abroad and thus did not have up-to-date information on the issue.

UN court spokeswoman Yuko Maeda said she could not comment on the work of Uth Chhorn’s office, as it operates separately from the tribunal.

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