Gov’t, UN Concerned About KRT Budget Shortfall

Currently visiting Phnom Penh, the UN’s top lawyer yesterday joined Cabinet Minister Sok An in calling on foreign donors to give money to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, where salaries for Cambodian staff may be short by as much as half this month.

In a joint statement, UN Undersecretary General for Legal Affairs Patricia O’Brien and Mr Sok An said they “express their concern about the financial situation, including the cash flow, of the ECCC” and called on donors “to come forward with pledges.”

Donor representatives are scheduled to gather Thursday at the Japanese Embassy and will be asked to provide funding to cover this month’s payroll, according to Dim Sovannarom, a Cambodian spokesman for the court.

The current payroll for the 294 employees on the court’s Cambodian side stands at $485,000 and 2010 budget plans call for a 17 percent staffing increase to 344 employees, Mr Sovannarom said, adding that without additional contributions this month, Cambodian pay will be reduced to half for the month of April.

“It’s too soon to say whether it will be half, two thirds or the totality,” he said of salaries to be paid at the end of this month.

Donor representatives in New York approved court plans in February to spend $43 million this year, of which $10.7 million is earmarked for the Cambodian side of the tribunal.

Lars Olsen, a UN spokesman for the court, said yesterday that the court’s UN side had “no immediate concerns” for the continuation of pay but will require funding for operations through 2010.

The UN Development Program ended its role as a fund manager for the tribunal’s Cambodian side last year after unfreezing funds withheld in 2008 due to corruption allegations.

Rafael Dochao Moreno, charge d’affaires for the European Union, said yesterday that negotiations were continuing in Brussels so that the UN Office of Project Services could replace UNDP as a fund manager.

The EU on Nov 30 pledged to make 2 million euro, or nearly $2.7 million, available to the court’s Cambodian side via the UN, which can help guarantee the traceability of funding.

“Our funds will not be ready until all of these things have been finalized,” Mr Dochao Moreno said.


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