Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday that problems in establishing the Khmer Rouge tribunal are giving him a “headache” and warned there won’t be a trial if the government’s share of the trial’s budget is not covered by the international community.
Hun Sen noted it is taking longer to establish the tribunal than it did to abolish the Khmer Rouge during the 1990s, and he questioned why UN countries appear reluctant to give Cambodia more money for the trial.
“Other countries share their money and give to the UN,” he told reporters at the Council of Ministers building. “They know Cambodia is poor. Why don’t they give us the money?”
The delays, he said, “have given me a headache.”
“If they don’t give us money, I will not have the trial,” Hun Sen warned. “If they don’t give money, I don’t have money [to try the Khmer Rouge].”
However, Hun Sen qualified his threats saying his statements “do not mean we have no will to try the Khmer Rouge.”
Last year, Cambodia and the UN agreed that the international community would contribute $43 million of the tribunal’s $56.3-million budget.
Cambodia was to contribute $13.3 million but in March announced it would only be able to afford $1.5 million and would need help from other sources.
A Japanese offer to use bilateral aid—money that Cambodia already has—to pay for the tribunal has not yet been accepted.
International donors have expressed frustration and impatience with the government’s apparent lack of will in finding alternative sources of income, and observers continue to question the government’s interest in the tribunal.
One foreign diplomat said Monday that the UN has met its obligations, and things are now up to Cambodia.
Another foreign diplomat said the government would likely find more donors if reform of the judicial system was undertaken.
“If the government made some positive moves to reform the judiciary, undoubtedly a number of countries would make a move to contribute,” the diplomat said.