KRT’s Cambodian Side Likely Funded Through 3rd Quarter of 2010

The nearly 300 unpaid employees of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Cambodian side will receive two and a half months in back wages later this month after Japan announced Friday it had approved the transfer of funding pledged in May, Japan and the court announced.

The Japanese funding appeared likely to be exhausted quickly, however, and a court spokesman said that even with donations from Europe and Australia, the court’s Cambodian side is still unfunded for the last quarter of this year.

The single largest donor to the court and the strongest backer of the Cambodian side, Japan in May reduced its support for the tribunal by 75 percent, announcing pledges totaling $5.16 million, of which about $2.26 million were for the court’s Cambodian side, which has a monthly payroll of $485,000.

After the exhaustion of funding, Cambodian employees were reduced to half pay in April and have not been paid since.

Reach Sambath, the court’s chief of public affairs, said the Cambodian side of the court expected to be paid sometime in the next two weeks.

“Although this money is not going to last a long time, at least the Cambodian side is funded till the third quarter,” he said, noting that European Union and Australian pledges of about $3.3 million were likely to be disbursed this month as well.

In a time of increasing budget austerity, donor countries have maintained robust support development in Cambodia, pledging over $1 billion in aid last month.

However, despite the urging of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in May, support for the Khmer Rouge tribunal has been very weak and left 2011 almost completely unfunded.

Mr Sambath said yesterday that the European Commission had concluded an agreement with the UN management agency UNOPS to manage donations for the Cambodian side of the court.

European officials entered into discussions with UNOPS but had hesitated to conclude an agreement due to uncertainty that UNOPS could effectively replace the UN Development Program, which ended its role as a fund manager last year.

Questions submitted to the European Commission in Brussels last month have yet to be answered.

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