Officials Stand By Structure of KR Tribunal

No changes will be made to the basic administrative structure of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, despite two stark assessments—a UN Develop­ment Program audit and a report by two UN experts—calling for major reforms, court officials said Tuesday.

The reports, limited versions of which have been released publicly, found serious problems with the administration and hybrid structure of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

The two UN experts, who have worked at the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, recommended shifting control of crucial court functions to UN administrators. The UNDP au­ditors objected to recruitment ir­regularities, recommending that all staffing decisions on the Cambodi­an side of the court be nullified.

“Both sides are looking at both reports right now and looking at structural changes,” ECCC Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis said Tues­day. “We’re working within the agreements that delineated responsibilities,” she said.

Those agreements included the 2003 agreement between the UN and the government of Cambodia and the 2004 Cambodian law that set up the ECCC, as well as supplementary and budgetary agreements, she added.

The tribunal’s UN spokesman, Peter Foster, emphasized Tuesday that the ECCC operates within the courts of Cambodia and that the UN is here to help, not to lead.

“This is a Cambodian court. We are only mandated to provide assistance,” he said.

The suggestion that the UN take a stronger leadership role in the court is, he said, “an entirely different concept.”

A concept, he added, that would require high-level political re-negotiation of the court’s founding tenets.

“We are bound by the agreements and law and internal rules in place. If there are going to be changes in that, those need to be negotiated at a level above the court,” he said.

“We have two people in detention. The last thing we want is to de­lay the judicial process. Every effort will be made to work within the system we have without reopening ne­gotiation. It took 13 years to negotiate the agreements we have now,” he added.

Foster also said the court’s ad­ministrative problems have not im­pinged on the integrity of the judicial process.

“The checks and balances on the judicial process and maintaining in­ternational standards of law are there,” he said.

“If…any of the international jud­ges felt the structural challenges they saw were affecting international standards of justice they wouldn’t take part in the process.”

Meanwhile, in response to the UNDP audit, the Cambodian side of the court has published a personnel manual, which formalized re­cruitment procedures, adopted a mandatory code of ethics, deepened involvement of international staff in Cambodian personnel management, and embarked on a round of testing to ensure that staf­fers are in fact qualified for their jobs, Jarvis said.

UNDP and members of the dip­lomatic community say that they’re confident these measures will put the court back on a road to health, and Jarvis has said that the court has agreed to all of UNDP’s recommendations.

Jarvis said Tuesday that she did not know whether any Cambodian employees have had their contracts curtailed as a result of the au­dit findings.

Cambodian staff salaries, which UNDP auditors said exceeded the intended ECCC pay scale and were far above local norms, are not slated to be cut, according to Jarvis.

New staff will now have to disclose their family ties to other court and government employees, but she said current staff have not yet been made to comply with the new disclosure requirements.

The Open Society Justice Initia­tive, a New York based court monitoring group, in a report last week urged the court to appoint an om­budsman to whom court employees could report corruption.

They also recommended that the UN increase its oversight by ap­pointing a high-level monitor to ad­vise the UN Secretary-General.

Heather Ryan, OSJI’s Phnom Penh-based court monitor, said by e-mail Tuesday that the agreements that established the court ac­tually allow for “great flexibility in establishing an effective administration system and making modifications to deal with problems that are identified.”

UNDP spokesman Men Kim­seng said by e-mail Tuesday that UNDP has not released a copy of its final audit, which it still considers an “internal document.”


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