Review Finds Reforms on Track at KR Tribunal

Reforms made to the Cambo­dian side of the Khmer Rouge tribunal in the last year are sufficient to minimize the risk of corrupt hiring practices, according to an independent review released Friday.

In announcing the report’s findings, overseers of funding for the Cambodian side also said they hoped to restore confidence among donors to the court after da­maging allegations arose early last year that Cambodian staff were paying bribes to obtain jobs at the court.

The court is currently seeking an additional $114 million to cover operations until 2011.

The two week-review, carried out in late February by consultants from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and a local consultant, was to determine whether the court was acting on recommendations made by successive human re­sources audits and reviews performed in 2007.

It found that nearly all recommendations were being satisfactorily taken on board but found some areas wanting improvement.

“Robust [human resources] systems have been developed and implemented to address previous shortcomings, to give effective support to the judicial process and to minimize the risk of questionable […] practices occurring in the future,” the report concluded.

Sean Visoth, director of administration at the Extraordinary Cham­bers in the Court of Cambodia, said the court had faced down considerable difficulties.

“If I say that the ECCC is corruption free, that means I lie to you,” he told reporters at a news conference at the court’s new information center in Chamkar Mon district.

“I don’t see anywhere in the world that is corruption free. But if you have some common sense, you may look into how we have been doing so far to tackle all these issues,” he said.

The report found that new policies on hiring guidelines contained in a new personnel handbook, including measures on recruitment records and minimum qualifications, as well as staff salary scales and awareness of a new code of conduct, were satisfactory.

The court’s Project Board in February also decided to give three months’ notice to five employees whose qualifications, according to the reviewers, did not match minimum job requirements.

The board is an oversight committee of officials from the court, the European Commission, the UN’s Development Program and Depart­ment of Economic and Social Affairs, which manages $6.4 million in UN and EC funding and also requested the review published Friday.

In addition to ensuring that references and supporting documents are verified before job offers are made, the reviewers recommended training court staff in interviewing techniques and job performance assessment. Failure to report misconduct should also be penalized, the reviewers said.

UNDP Country Director Jo Scheuer said the report had not been intended to determine whe­ther kickbacks had in fact been paid but to assess whether the court’s structure will be able to resist graft in the future.

“A few months ago it was felt that more might have to be done to restore donor confidence that things are in order in the court,” Scheuer said.

“We believe and we hope that with this independent report we’re issuing today to the public, this issue has been addressed and can be put behind us,” he said.

Rafael Dochao Moreno, Charge d’Affaires for the EC, which has contributed $1.2 million to the Cambo­dian side of the court, said the EC was currently evaluating how much it planned to offer the court in additional funding.

Heather Ryan, a court monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, which in February 2007 first publicized allegations that some Cambo­dian staff were paying as much as 30 percent of their salaries in kickbacks, said OSJI had, as yet, no comment on whether those allegations had been adequately ad­dressed.

However the court’s efforts at reform were laudable, she said.

“I think that as a result of the auditing processes the court has obviously made huge strides in developing adequate human re­sources practices and protections and their willingness to make these changes is certainly an encouraging sign,” she said.


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