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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN seeks money for KR Trial

UN seeks money for KR Trial

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has formally invited member states to pledge funding for the Khmer Rouge trials, but countries remain reluctant to quantify their commitment.

A letter dated 17 December, 2004, was sent with an attached "pledging form" to member nations, asking them to respond as soon as possible.

"The Secretary-General plans to hold a pledging conference at a time early in the new year, and urges Member States to come and pledge their contributions to the special trust fund established for this purpose," the letter stated.

The letter said budgetary requirements for establishing and operating the three-year trial were finalized during a December visit by Mohammed Said, the U.N.'s task force coordinator.

Of the total $56.3 million budget, the United Nations will contribute $40 million to the tribunal while the Cambodian government is responsible for $13.3 million, according to the letter.

Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, has repeatedly said that the trial would only begin once actual cash donations for the first year had been received and a further two years' funds pledged.

The Australian government has given $2.1 million for the anticipated three-year trial, while Japan has pledged $3 million for the first year and France has pledged $1 million.

Other UN member states have so far been reluctant to pledge.

At a canal inauguration ceremony on January 8, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen said the ball was now in the international community's court.

"I went to the meeting and met Secretary-General Kofi Annan; only to shake hands, [say] thanks [and] compliment with the congratulations that His Excellency [Hun Sen] already did what Kampuchea had to do - that means ratification and budgets between the United Nations and Kampuchea," said Hun Sen.

"I told him that now it's time for you to make an effort to find the money," said the PM.

"I also make an effort to find the money and asked John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, for helping more to have the trial quickly," said Hun Sen.

"If [the trial] already judge Pol Pot, it means justice for Cambodia has succeeded."

Hun Sen also made controversial comments comparing the outpouring of sympathy and international aid to victims of the December 26 tsunami to the world's response to the deaths during the Khmer Rouge years.

"If we check what damage by tsunami compared to the scale of damage during Pol Pot regime, it's not equal to 10 percent," he said. "According to the estimate, the dead and missing [might] increase to 200,000. We are very sorry."

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