ECCC: All Offices Must Be More Efficient

Having reduced its total anticipated operating costs by 16 percent, the Khmer Rouge tribunal will now require greater efficiency from all its offices, the court’s deputy director of administration Knut Rosand­haug said Tuesday.

In a $143 million revised budget draft presented to donors in New York this month, the tribunal is seeking a little less than $87 million in additional funds for a further two and a half years of operations, down from the $114 million the court asked for in January.

“It’s going to be more sweat but the same product,” Rosandhaug told reporters in Phnom Penh. “It has to be an efficiency increase across the board. Clearly we want to complete this as soon as possible, so everyone has to chip in,” he said.

For operations until the end of 2009, the court is now seeking an additional $6.1 million for its Cam­bodian side and $37.7 million for the UN side, Director of Adminis­tration Sean Visoth said in prepared remarks.

He added that some donors proposed deleting an $11 million contingency fee for unforeseen expenses at the tribunal.

Despite some complaints, the court remains confident of continued support, Sean Visoth said.

“I think that we can see we are quite optimistic that there will be contributions from donor countries,” he said.

This year, Japan, France and Australia have announced pledges totaling about $4 million for the Cambo­dian side and $750,000 for the UN side of the court. Last week, Japan authorized the transfer of nearly $3 million in Cambodia-specific development funds to the budget of the court’s Cambodian side.

A Japanese government official who asked not to be named said Monday that his government was not considering any further donations to the tribunal.

“Our standpoint is that we are not going to contribute to the UN side,” the official said. “Our financial situation is very bad in Japan. It’s the basic reason.”

Despite some concerns about corruption allegations made last year, donors have expressed broad approval of the new budget and recently enacted human resources reforms, though some were concerned about the court’s proposed $11 million contingency request, the Japanese official added.

“I hope the secretariat will reconsider the revised budget, especially the contingencies,” he said. “We are concerned about the corruption issue, but to be honest it is not so critical for us.”

Following Tuesday’s news conference, the tribunal’s Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis said that Japan’s contributions to date were already greatly appreciated.

The court’s largest donor, Japan contributed $21.6 million toward the tribunal’s initial budget.

“I think it would be inappropriate to be suggesting that they should be giving any more at this point,” Jarvis said.

US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said Tuesday that the US was continuing its review of whe­ther the tribunal meets international standards, a condition for US funding, and was examining the new draft budget.

“[O]ur initial impression is that it is a serious attempt to better evaluate the budgetary needs of the tribunal as it moves forward and that the request was done in a more transparent and objective fashion,” he wrote in an e-mail.

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