A UN review of alleged kickbacks at the Khmer Rouge tribunal has identified more than one individual suspected of wrongdoing and named them in findings submitted to the government, the Council of Ministers announced Friday.
The Council also said Friday that an initial complaint of irregularities at the court had been received by the court’s new Cambodian “ethics monitors” and was being reviewed by Cabinet Minister Sok An.
Cambodian officials said this week that the government had received the results of an independent UN review of multiple kickback allegations made earlier this year by Cambodian staff at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
The government’s response to the UN’s review of the kickback allegations has not been disclosed.
However, in a statement, the Council of Ministers said that while the actual complaints of wrongdoing had been kept from Cambodian authorities by the UN, the targets of the allegations had been named in official UN correspondence, though this information remains confidential.
Under a 2003 treaty with the UN, Cambodia is responsible for managing the Cambodian side of the court, the Council of Ministers noted in its statement.
“[B]ut until now none of these complaints have been presented to any competent Cambodian authority. HE Sok An [has] also expressed his concerns regarding lack of due process, including the naming of individuals who have […] not been informed of the charges against them,” the statement said.
“HE Sok An [has] pledged on numerous occasions that [if] any of those complaints are submitted to the Cambodian authority, appropriate action will be taken,” the statement added.
Officials at the UN Secretariat and Office of Legal Affairs in New York were not immediately available for comment on Friday.
Since the UN announced in August that a review of the allegations was underway, Cambodian officials have stressed their commitment to preventing corruption and announced new procedures for the handling of complaints.
Tribunal Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis, who last month was named an “ethics monitor” along with Supreme Court Chamber President Kong Srim, said Friday that Sok An was in the process of establishing a panel to review an anonymous complaint of unspecified irregularities at the court.
Under new rules created on Aug 29, Sok An may refer the complaint to criminal authorities if the panel feels this is warranted.
Jarvis also said she felt it had been unfair for the UN findings to conceal the identities of the complainants while naming those that were accused.
“If you’re talking about confidentiality, then the presumption of innocence should go all ways,” she said.
In making their allegations of kickback, Cambodian staff at the tribunal crossed an administrative divide to lodge their complaints with UN officials.
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defender’s Project, said Friday that Cambodia had little if any means of protecting whistleblowers.
“ I have never seen the chief of police send some police to secure someone,” Sok Sam Oeun said.
“Whistleblower protection? I don’t think that Cambodia has it,” he said.