New corruption allegations won't be "swept under the carpet"

opinion pieces about the tribunal for the Wall Street Journal, weighs in on the new corruption allegations against the court in a recent issue of the Cambodia Daily. For some reason, I haven't been able to find this piece anywhere online, so I'll summarize some of the highlights: For the first time in the tribunal's history, staff members making accusations about the court have been willing to put their charges in writing. Unlike alleged complaints of kickbacks from last year "it seems unlikely that (these new) allegations can be swept under the carpet," according to Hall. They will prove a significant test for the tribunal's new anti-corruption mechanisms, which UN special expert David Tolbert has spent the last few months drafting. Moreover, how the Cambodian government handles the allegations could signal a turning point for the court. "The recent changes in the international management team at the tribunal appear to have encouraged the Cambodians to step forward," Hall writes. " />

New corruption allegations won't be "swept under the carpet"

He says the first whistle-blower approached recently appointed Deputy Director of Administration Knut Rosandhaug, who has openly pledged his commitment to fighting corruption.

"That such complaints have been filed at all is unprecedented within the notoriously corrupt Cambodian judicial system," writes Hall, who adds that those who have come forward are putting their careers -- and perhaps personal safety -- on the line.

If Tolbert's anti-corruption mechanisms are successfully implemented, the courageous staffers may see tangible results. When allegations of kickbacks were raised in 2007, the UN could only ask the Cambodian side to investigate the charges.

"The result was predictable: Nothing."

However, under Tolbert's plan, the UN conducts an initial review of any allegations, forwarding its findings and recommendations to the Cambodian government for a potential investigation.

With this process, "the UN will be much better informed of the substance and weight of the allegations and in a much stronger position to demand that the Cambodian government proceed."

Unfortunately, the Cambodian government has already shown some resistance to this course of action. Cabinet Minister Sok An has sent a letter to the UN apparently asserting that the body lacks jurisdiction over the recent allegations.

Given this situation, Hall suggests the court may need to implement additional safeguards:

"And what if the Cambodian government simply ignores any (UN) recommendation, or launches a half-hearted or sham investigations? If that happens, those individuals who have come forward at great risk will have done so for nothing."

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