An adviser to the government’s Khmer Rouge tribunal taskforce said Thursday that several countries have agreed to use aid money for Cambodia left over from the early 1990s to fund the trial.
All countries approached have so far agreed to a UN proposal that the money from the Untac period be used to help the government cover its remaining share of the trial budget, Helen Jarvis said at an event to raise public awareness of the trials.
The leftover funds, which are retained individually by the countries, could be used to muster $6.9 million for the trial.
“At the moment, the UN is asking those countries if they agree,” Jarvis said, though she did not name them. “So far they have all said ‘yes,’” she said.
The idea of using the funds was first made public last month by the UN’s tribunal deputy coordinator Michelle Lee, who said the countries that contributed the money, including Japan, Denmark and Australia, will have to agree to release it for that purpose.
Jarvis said the government is expecting formal confirmation next month from the UN as to whether the money will be made available.
“We are expecting in February to get the official letter,” Jarvis said. “That should help,” she added.
According to an agreement between the government and the UN, the international community will pay $43 million for the $56.3-million tribunal and Cambodia will pay the remaining $13.3 million.
The government has said it can only afford to contribute $1.5 million and has been appealing to donors for help. India, Thailand and the European Commission have pledged funds to help pay for the government’s shortfall, leaving about $9.6 million more to be found.
Mogens Christensen, head of mission for the Danish development agency Danida, said he had been notified of the proposal but added that the decision lies with Danish officials in New York. He did not know if the plan had been accepted.
Christensen said if the Danish government gave permission, the funds would be administered by the UN Development Program.
“I expect they could release the funds for specific purposes,” he said. “I don’t believe it will be a block transfer to the government.”
Yonnezawa Atsushi, a Japanese Embassy official working on the tribunal, said he was not aware of the UN or Cambodia contacting the Japanese government regarding the left-over funds.
“Maybe we would consider if the UN asked us,” he said.