Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN gives green light to trial, despite lack of money

UN gives green light to trial, despite lack of money

UN gives green light to trial, despite lack of money

The United Nations Secretary-General has announced that the agreement establishing

a Khmer Rouge tribunal has taken effect, despite a $14 million shortfall in funding

pledges.

On April 28, Secretary General Kofi Annan notified Prime Minister Hun Sen in a letter

that the legal requirements of the UN had been met, meaning the long-awaited tribunal

could begin.

Annan had previously stated that he wanted the pledges secured for the $56.3 million

tribunal and the first year's contributions deposited in the bank before the trial

could start.

Japan transferred its $21.5 million dollar pledge to the UN on March 30, fulfilling

the first year's contributions, but the remaining pledges have fallen short.

The $43 million to be covered by international donations to the UN is $4.4 million

short. The Cambodian contribution of $13.3 million is $11.8 million short.

The Cambodian government has begun its task of seeking bilateral assistance for the

remaining funds, and Hun Sen has said he will request further financial assistance

from Japan during a trip to the country this month.

The European Commission pledged $1.3 million on April 28, but it is unclear whether

this is to be allocated to the UN or to the Cambodian share of the funding, according

to Helen Jarvis, advisor to the government on the Khmer Rouge Trials.

The Cambodian government has pledged $1.5 million in cash from its national budget,

as well as an in-kind contribution of $5.3 million.

The in-kind component includes provision of the premises, security services, detention

facilities, public outreach and media, utilities, and medical support for witnesses

and defendants.

"Salaries [for civil servants] at national government rates [will be] from the

government payroll, [with] supplements from bilateral contributions to the Cambodian

side of the budget," Jarvis said.

The 2003 KR tribunal agreement - ratified in 2004 - stated that the UN would cover

salaries for the international judges, leading to concerns over inequitable pay.

Kek Galabru, a member of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition

of 18 local organizations, said she is concerned that lower salaries for Cambodian

judges could erode local commitment to high standards of judicial practice.

"Maybe the judges will ask, 'How come [international judges] have five or 10

times more money than us?'" Galabru said. "Maybe nobody will be willing

to be committed like the international judges."

"I don't think they will say it, but inside I think this will matter to them."

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