Several months into the worst financial crisis in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s history, the entire Cambodian staff of the Pre-Trial Chamber and Trial Chamber have now given notice, informing court administrators that they will leave their jobs in 10 days if no donor pledges are forthcoming.
Cambodian staffers working in the Pre-Trial Chamber informed judges and the court’s Office of Administration yesterday that they would be forced to seek new work by March 1 if there was no word on when they would receive their salaries, which have gone unpaid since October.
Trial Chamber staff on the national side sent a similar letter last week. Already, six key staff members in the Office of the Co-Prosecutors have departed due to the lack of funds.
It was unclear yesterday how this would affect the progress of the Case 002 trial, which depends heavily on Cambodian staff. Hearings are now in recess but are scheduled to resume on March 12.
“They informed the judges at the Pre-Trial Chamber and also the Trial Chamber that if there is no pledging from the donor countries and if there is no information about when they can get the salary and all the back salary, they will stop to work temporarily and take this time to look for other jobs,” said Neth Pheaktra, a spokesman for the Cambodian side of the court. Mr. Pheaktra could not provide the exact number of staff members who intended to leave.
All Cambodian staff members at the court have gone unpaid since the end of January, while judges, prosecutors and their legal officers have gone unpaid since October. At a meeting last month, national staffers were informed that they could not expect to be paid until April at the earliest. The international side of the court is also struggling, with funds set to run dry in the second quarter of the year.
The court’s directors are now in New York to submit the court’s $89 million 2012-2013 budget to donors at the UN. They are scheduled to meet with the court’s steering committee and the group of interested states on Friday.
“The late payment has demoralized the staff of the court,” said Mr. Pheaktra. “We hope we will get the good news from donor countries.”