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UN outmaneuvered

Dear Editor,

The United Nations Development Program has once again been totally outmanoeuvered by the government on the issue of corruption allegations within the ECCC. In refusing to release salary payments to the ECCC's Cambodian staff, the UNDP has again chosen to play a last-gasp brinkmanship.

Almost everybody has some legitimate concerns about various aspects of these trials. Nevertheless, as a friend of two men who were tortured and murdered by the Khmer Rouge, I can assure the Professors-of-Perfect-Process at UNDP that the majority of  Cambodians want these trials to continue regardless. It has been 30 years coming and we insist upon accountability - right here and right now.

After closely observing the local ECCC staff, one cannot help but be impressed. Despite these new threats to their livelihoods, they will probably quietly persevere, just as they did for long months without pay last year. As one of them expressed to me [recently], "For years we have worked so hard for what is happening inside this courtroom today. We will continue for as long as we can." He also said that worries about job security were the first thing that staff talked about every morning. Please remember that these people are the original victims of the alleged corruption.

Does the UN, itself riddled with squandering and corruption, really want to close down the courts over this issue? Or is this posturing simply to divert attention from its own failure to improve procedures? In any case, it is unjust to inflict its retribution upon the innocent. It is both the Khmer Rouge victims and the dedicated local ECCC staff who bear the brunt of this carelessly applied high-mindedness.

Paul Everingham

Phnom Penh

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