Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Money woes take spotlight, but flurry of work ongoing in preparation of KR trial

Money woes take spotlight, but flurry of work ongoing in preparation of KR trial

Money woes take spotlight, but flurry of work ongoing in preparation of KR trial

As funding for the Khmer Rouge tribunal edges closer to finalization, attention is

now turning to the tribunal's daunting "to do list".

Top priorities for the Royal Government of Cambodia's task force on the tribunal

are: recruitment and training of an estimated 300 personnel; coordination of the

logistical needs for computer systems, data management and security; and confirmation

of the trial's location.

Helen Jarvis, an advisor to the government on the KR trial, said although most of

the tasks are on hold until all the money is in the bank, some preparations are underway.

"Formally speaking, we haven't got the green light from the UN yet, but we are

extremely confident the shortfall will come within days," she said April 4.

At a United Nations pledging ceremony on March 28, countries donated $34.8 million

to the UN fund, approximately $5 million short of the $43 million goal for international


The Cambodian Government initially agreed to pay $13.3 million from its national

budget for the trial, but has since reduced this offer to $1.5 million, appealing

for assistance from other countries to help make up for the shortfall.

Jarvis said bilateral agreements may cover the $12 million difference once the international

funds are secured.

Meanwhile, work has begun in the areas of preliminary judicial training, translation

of legal documents, outreach services, and site confirmation.

The task force, together with the UN Development Program, trained 30 Cambodian judges

and prosecutors on international criminal and humanitarian law in September last


The second two-week training session begins April 25 and will discuss the way Cambodian

rules of procedure and evidence will be supplemented with international rules when


Up to 15 of the 30 judges will be selected for the tribunal.

The task force so far has translated 90 of 100 relevant Cambodian and international

laws into the three official tribunal languages: Khmer, English and French.

The resulting compendium includes articles from the 1956 Penal Code of Cambodia,

1993 State of Cambodia Criminal Code, 1950 Nuremburg Charter and 1949 Geneva Convention.

A glossary of legal terms has been produced by the task force and a pre-trial book,

Guide to Cambodian Criminal Law, is currently being printed.

Jarvis said that since last year the task force has been using Khmer Unicode for

all Khmer-language documents. The Unicode Standard is an international font standard

to which Khmer has recently been added.

Aside from the crucial paperwork and training, the controversial change of venue,

from the Chaktomuk Theatre to the new military barracks located about 11 kms west

of Phnom Penh, is being finalized.

Jarvis said that a UN technical team "signed off" on the new venue for

security and logistics reasons in January. The shift is now under consideration at

the UN headquarters in New York.

Proposed locations for staff housing during the trials are Northbridge International

School or a residential unit in Toul Kork district. Free buses for staff will likely

run to and from the trial venue at least four times a day.

Once funding is secured, the first step is to appoint a UN deputy director and a

Cambodian director to the Office of Administration, Jarvis said.

Formal recruitment and training can then begin for both the international and Cambodian

investigative and prosecuting judges. Other staff, including court officials, translators

and interpreters, will be recruited at the same time as judges, Jarvis said.

The task force sent out e-mails last month inviting people to register as potential

translators and interpreters.

Of the 300 estimated staff for the three-year tribunal, 200 will be Cambodian and

100 international appointees.

Finding Cambodian and international judicial personnel who can work as a team will

be an important factor once the funding is secured, Jarvis said.

"[The trial] is going to be a big challenge to carry out," she said. "The

task is very heavy and within a short timeframe, so it must be a strong team working


Scott Worden, a former legal advisor to the Cambodia Defender's Project who has been

observing trial preparations from Phnom Penh, agreed that teamwork between the international

and Cambodian judiciary will be necessary for the success of the tribunal.

"If there isn't cooperation and consensus, then communication could break down,

preventing the court from getting to the substance of the trials," Worden said.

"Any number of small issues could cause a snag that would tear the whole process


Worden said that focussing now on legal questions about the tribunal's rules of procedure

and evidence would help prevent delays once the trial was under way.

The tribunal automatically adopts Cambodian court procedures but will use international

rules when needed. At present, however, it is unclear which international rules will

be used, and this will be decided on an ad hoc basis.

"Relying on Cambodian laws and procedures, and filling in any gaps with international

procedures is inconsistent," Worden said. "A new code of procedures for

the new court is crucial for the fairness and efficiency of the trials."

Craig Etcheson, author of the soon-to-be published Extraordinary Chambers: Law, Politics

and War Crimes Tribunals, also foresees problems arising if the rules of procedure

and evidence are overlooked.

"The bottom line is that if the Extraordinary Chambers does not have its own

internal rules of evidence and procedure, then endless confusion and delays are likely

to ensue in the course of the proceedings," Etcheson said by e-mail.

"I am afraid that the Royal Government has not yet focused adequately on this

matter," he said.

Jarvis estimated that once the full funding is secured, it will take about three

months for the trial to get under way.


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