ECCC Delays Appeal for More Funding

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia has push­ed back its planned fundraising ap­peal, originally scheduled for this month, and will likely need to ex­tend its three-year mandate into 2010, court officials and diplomats said Thursday.

The tribunal’s UN spokesman Peter Foster said a date for the fundraising appeal has not been set.

“We expect it will happen before the end of the year,” Foster said, adding that fundraising strategies and a budget for the tribunal have yet to be finalized.

ECCC Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis said the court is already talking with donors in Phnom Penh.

The court will present donors with budgets for the tribunal to continue through to the end of 2009 and 2010, which she said was a “more realistic” scenario.

Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong also said Thursday that the Khmer Rouge trials could well extend through 2010.

“There could be a lack of budget, but it will not be a huge shortage,” he told reporters. “I hope the international community will help on this issue,” he added.

The clock is ticking for the $56.3 million tribunal, which will start running out of funds next year.

In an August report made public Thursday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the General As­sembly that delays in adopting the tribunal’s internal rules had push­ed back the judicial process. The court’s three-year initial mandate, he wrote, has proven “too optimistic.”

So has the tribunal’s budget, which is small by international standards.

Ban Ki-moon wrote that preliminary estimates suggested that $25 million more will be needed for the court, $16.7 million for staff and the rest for operations.

Phnom Penh-based diplomats have said the number is likely to be nearer $35 million. No final figures have been released.

The funding appeal has become a touchstone for management re­form at the court, with donors calling more strongly—and more publicly—for change.

Moreover, allegations that staf­fers had to kick back significant portions of their salaries in ex­change for their jobs, which had little political traction earlier this year, have lately become a public focus of concern.

“We are concerned about the al­legations of corruption, which serve only to undermine the credibility of the Court and which should therefore be addressed,” British Ambas­sador David Reader said in an e-mail Thursday.

“I remain confident that the Court can resolve its well publiciz­ed administrative difficulties in or­der not to impede the ECCC’s overall progress nor undermine the ju­dicial legitimacy and legacy of the Court,” he added.

Foster said he was not concern­ed about the court running out of money.

“We’re too far along in the pro­cess and too much money has been invested by the donor community and the government of Cambodia to let it fail,” he said.

But the debate about reform is rekindling a decade-old face-off about the balance of national and in­ternational control at this unique hybrid court.

The most bracing remedies suggested by the donor community to fix the court’s management ills in­volve strengthening international oversight, a prospect the Cambo­dian side of the court has resisted on the grounds that it would stretch the legal agreements that established the ECCC as an essentially Cambodian court.

“No one is going to want to spend American taxpayer money on an administrative process which is not transparent and above board,” US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli told reporters Thursday.

“There is a grave urgency to find new outside mechanisms that can oversee the administrative process to ensure people are qualified for their jobs and that they are not giving part of their salaries back to those who hired them,” he added.

Echoing the sentiment of others in the donor community, Musso­meli said that putting structures in place to eliminate the possibility of future corruption was far more im­portant than substantiating past infractions.

The US has yet to give money directly to the ECCC. Under orders from the US Congress, the Secre­tary of State must certify that the tribunal can deliver justice that meets international standards before dir­ect funding can be delivered.

That evaluation is now underway and this week, Milbert Shin, deputy of the State Department’s Office of War Crimes Issues, visited Cambo­dia, Mussomeli said.

Some donors have privately ex­pressed reluctance to route money through the Cambodian side of this hybrid court, a prospect Jarvis said was a non-starter.

“We are confident there will be funding for the Cambodian side. We think it would be strange if anybody imagined this court could proceed as an entirely international op­eration. That’s not a conceivable op­tion. This is a hybrid court. There must be funds for both sides,” she said.

Under the agreements that set up the ECCC, the Cambodian side of the court is responsible for paying the salaries of Cambodian na­tional staff, she added.

Government spokesman and In­formation Minister Khieu Kanhar­ith declined to comment Thursday on whether the Cambodian government, which has given $1.5 million in cash and an estimated $5.3 million in kind, might step in with additional funds for the Cambodian side of the court.

“When the time comes we will make you know,” he said.

  (Additional reporting by Kay Kimsong)

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