Government Pledges to Meet $1.8M Khmer Rouge Tribunal Shortfall

Prime Minister Hun Sen has agreed to release $1.8 million of government funds to see the cash-strapped Khmer Rouge tribunal through to the end of the year, according to senior CPP minister Kao Kim Hourn.

Mr. Hun Sen returned to Cam­bodia on Thursday night after spending Tuesday and Wednesday in Brunei for the 23rd Asean Summit, where he met with key heads of state and appealed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for financial help for the court, which was facing a shortfall of $1.8 million.

“His Excellency Ban Ki-moon congratulated Samdech Prime Minister on gaining his fifth mandate in the elections,” Mr. Kim Hourn said. “Ban Ki-moon also asked the prime minister to help the government fund the Cambo­dian side [of the court]. The prime minister agreed to give $1.8 million to the Khmer Rouge tribunal from now until the end of 2013.”

The pledge comes after the government spent most of the past year insisting that it did not have the funds to honor its side of the agreement upon which the U.N.-Cambodian hybrid war crimes court was established.

Though under that agreement the government is responsible for paying salaries to national staff at the court, it has instead made multiple calls for international donors to step forward and pay the funding shortfall. The latest international donation was made in the form of a bridging loan to cover national staff salaries for June, July and August, and on the strict conditions that it be paid back.

National court staff have gone on strike twice this year over their unpaid salaries.

Mr. Kim Hourn said Mr. Hun Sen also spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and appealed for their countries’ help as the war crimes court moves into 2014.

Mr. Kerry said that the U.S. would consider the request, Mr. Kim Hourn said.

“Ban Ki-moon also promised to appeal to other countries to support the Khmer Rouge tribunal,” Mr. Kim Hourn added. Mr. Ban has already made two public appeals on behalf of the court this year.

Court spokesman Neth Pheak­tra said he had heard of Mr. Kim Hourn’s announcement regarding the $1.8 million, but said the court is still awaiting official confirmation.

“If the Cambodian government decides to provide money to the national side, I think it’s good news for staff from the national side of the court,” he said.

“We will not be faced with a serious financial crisis for the rest of the year.”

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