Gov’t Says KR Trial Is in Donor, UN Hands

In what some observers called a challenge to the international com­munity, the government re­leased a statement Monday an­nouncing its completion of the legal legwork for the Khmer Rouge tribunal and passing re­sponsibility for the trial’s future to the UN and donor nations.

Barely two weeks after Senate President and acting Head of State Chea Sim signed off on the re­maining amendments to the 2001 Khmer Rouge tribunal law and approved the UN-Cam­bo­dia agree­ment on the trial, the state­ment from the Ministry of Fo­reign Affairs stated that the UN’s desire and ability to raise money remained the trial’s only obstacle.

“Therefore, the Royal Go­vern­ment of Cambodia has completed her legal procedure and wishes to see the United Nations [undertake] the necessary steps so that the Khmer Rouge trial can be ex­pedited,” the statement said.

“They’re trying to say the ball is in the UN’s court,” said an Asian diplomat familiar with the trial.

Government officials and trial ob­servers alike have long maintained that the budget is now the trial’s greatest sticking point, with estimates ranging from a donor-favored $30 million to a government price tag of $60 million.

Sean Visoth, head of the government’s task force on the trial, said  that the tribunal will cost around $57 million. “We have the agreement ratified…we have approved the amendments,” he said. “What re­mains is the budget issue.”

The UN-Cambodia agreement on the trial states that the Cam­bo­dian government will contribute to some of the tribunal’s cost. How­ever, budgetary difficulties on the Cambodian side could mean that the government will look to donors for help with the domestic share as well.

“They [the government] have no money,” the diplomat said.

“In principal it should be shared, the costs of the tribunal,” said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cam­bo­dia. He said the tribunal funds should be part of next month’s Con­sultative Group meeting, where donors discuss aid allocation for the upcoming year.



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