KRT Ethics Monitor Submits Report to UN, Cambodian Gov’t

The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s ethics monitor said yesterday he had submitted his findings this month to the government and UN in a review of complaints from court staff.

It was unclear yesterday what information about the matter would be released to the public.

Auditor-General Uth Chhorn, who was jointly appointed as Independent Counselor in August by the UN and the government, announced in March that he had received complaints from a UN court employee and two Cambodian staff members, one of which alleged the improper solicitation of money from a subordinate.

“I will discuss later,” he said when asked if the report would be published, referring questions to the government and UN. A UN spokesman was unavailable and a spokesman for the Council of Ministers said he had no information on the matter.

A day after Mr Chhorn made his announcements in March, the US government, which helped devise Mr Chhorn’s position, certified to US lawmakers that “the court appears corruption-free at this time.”

“Since before the departure of the ECCC Director of Administration, there have been no reports alleging new instances of corruption at the Khmer Rouge tribunal,” US Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew wrote in a March 23 letter to the US Senate Committee on Appropriations, which approves funding for the tribunal.

The US Embassy said yesterday that since the letter of certification US officials had maintained regular communications on the tribunal with US lawmakers.

“We remain in regular consultation with the Congress and stand by our statement that the court appears to be corruption free at this time,” spokesman John Johnson wrote in an e-mail.

Under spending legislation, the US government was required to certify that there were acceptable efforts to combat corruption at the court. The letter referred to Director of Administration Sean Visoth, who was sidelined in a 2008 corruption scandal but has angrily rejected accusations that he took bribes.

In a speech in December, a European Union representative said that the UN Development Program had withdrawn as a fund manager for the tribunal partly due to a lack of confidence in the Independent Counselor mechanism.

Donors were told that “UNDP does not find this measure…a sufficient guarantee that funds contributed will be used appropriately,” Roland Tricot, legal counselor at the EU delegation to the UN, said in remarks delivered at a tribunal budget presentation in New York in December.

UNDP in December unfroze all remaining funds but no longer manages contributions for the Cambodian side of the court. However the UNDP office in Phnom Penh last month said it believed the Independent Counselor office would be effective.

“UNDP welcomes the agreement between the UN and the Royal Government of Cambodia establishing an Independent Counselor at the ECCC,” the agency said in response to questions.

 

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