Addressing an expanded assembly of diplomats from 22 nations and the European Union at the Council of Ministers, Cabinet Minister Sok An yesterday called on willing nations to help assure the legacy of the Khmer Rouge tribunal as it prepares to try the most complex criminal cases but again faces financial difficulties.
Mr Sok An, who was absent from a May pledging conference when donors offered only modest support, said the tribunal had attracted “world record” attendance with entrances to the courtroom’s public gallery during last year’s trial of former secret police commander Kaing Guek Eav and proven its ability to conduct fair trials.
Contributions to the court this year are $10 million short of approved spending and nearly $40 million short for 2011. Four Khmer Rouge leaders are imminently expected to be committed to trial in what court administrators describe as the most complex criminal prosecutions ever.
Donors have said their reticence to contribute is a result of straightened fiscal conditions after the global economic crisis of 2008.
Yesterday’s meeting was attended by the visiting UN Special Expert on the Khmer Rouge trials Clint Williamson, who briefed donors along with Secretary of State Chan Thani.
In an address, Mr Sok An said that, in addition to assisting the work of the court’s judicial officers, donors should help guarantee that Cambodian courts and the public as a whole benefit from the work of the tribunal.
“We wish to reiterate that now is the time to make sure that the skills and knowledge accumulated over the last five years are simultaneously transferred to local judiciary,” he said, according to a copy of his remarks. “This absolutely needs to be started ‘now’ or the opportunity will be lost.”
“In all the other internationally assisted tribunals considerable effort has been devoted to developing a coherent and realizable completion strategy,” he said.