By Kristy Tridhavee
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Asia
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – After allegations of kickbacks and malpractice, a recent audit of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal shows that there have been significant improvements in management and steps have been taken to reform procedures.
Jo Scheuer, the country director for the U.N. Development Program, said a recent audit showed “significant improvements,” and there were “no questionable financial transactions, misallocated resources and no incomplete or missing documentation in support of disbursements” of money since 2006. Jo Scheuer also added that there was “no conclusive evidence” to support allegation of kickbacks in exchange for jobs with the tribunal.
The positive audit is to serve as a reassurance to potential international financial backers of the tribunal. Rafael Dochao Moreno, charge d’affaires of the European Commission’s mission to Cambodia, said, “This special review has shown that we (now) have a system that can work.” Tribunal administrative director Sean Visoth added, “With the results of the special review we are sharing with you today we can finally close this chapter and move on to continue the very positive achievement the (court) has made in discharging its historic mandate.”
The Khmer Rouge Tribunal is in need of funds to continue proceedings. Although five former Khmer Rouge regime leaders have been charged and arrested, trials have yet to begin. With an original budget of $56.3 million, the tribunal’s costs have soared as a result of undue delays and political wrangling. The decade long delay has caused costs to rise to about $170 million. Presently, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has sufficient funds until September.
Recently, French Human Rights Minister Rama Yade announced that France will donate an additional $1 million in funds to the tribunal to help with its financial troubles. The recent contribution is in addition to a previous $5 million donation France gave when the tribunal first appealed for financial help. French Human Rights Minister Rama Yade commented, “One of the priorities for French diplomatic action abroad is international justice and the fight against impunity.” She added, “Human rights should not just be words.”
For more information, please see:
AFP – Cambodian Genocide Tribunal Denies Financial Mismanagement – 25 April 2008
The China Post – France Pledges Extra US $1mil. to Cambodian Genocide Court– 26 April 2008
International Herald Tribune – Audit Says Management of Cambodian Tribunal Has Improved Since Call for Reforms – 25 April 2008