The Open Society Justice Initiative has asked the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Director of Administration Sean Visoth to reconsider his decision to cease cooperating with the NGO.
Sean Visoth formally cut off cooperation with the New York-based legal group Feb 16, two days after the organization called for a thorough investigation into allegations that Cambodian staffers paid kickbacks to government officials in exchange for their positions at the court. Several officials at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have denied the allegations.
In a letter dated Thursday, James Goldston, OSJI executive director, asked Sean Visoth to reconsider his decision, but added that making public the results of a “thorough, fair, and independent investigation into corruption allegations” would be in the best interests of the court.
“Public release of investigative findings is necessary so that these allegations can be laid to rest, or, if warranted, effective measures can be instituted to counter corrupt practices,” Goldston wrote. He added that the group’s Feb 14 statement had been made “in good faith” and was based on “reliable and credible information from various sources.”
Peter Foster, ECCC public affairs officer, said Monday that no response was required from the UN side of the court. “It’s in line with what we have been saying all along,” he said.
Helen Jarvis, ECCC public affairs chief, declined comment on the letter. She did say, however, that Sean Visoth had taken “immediate measures” in response to the “unspecific allegations” made by OSJI.
On Wednesday, “[Sean Visoth] called a meeting of the Cambodian staff at which he reaffirmed the clear policy of the ECCC against any irregular financial transactions, including forced kickbacks,” Jarvis wrote in an e-mail. “He announced new measures including…the construction of suggestion boxes for the lodging of signed or unsigned comments or complaints on any matter,” she added.
The UN Development Program has commissioned an audit of the human resources section of the Cambodian side of the court. UNDP spokesman Men Kimseng declined to say whether the audit, which the UNDP has said was triggered by reports of concerns about the transparency of the court’s hiring procedures, would cover the kickback allegations.
According to a UNDP statement on the audit issued earlier this month, “Internal audit reports are management tools that are therefore not released to the public as is standard practice in the UN.”