Rights Group Concerned About KR Trial Funds

Representatives from the Cam­bo­dian Human Rights Action Com­­­mittee said Monday that they are skeptical that the international community will cover the government’s Khmer Rouge tribunal funding shortfall.

Although the agreement with the UN states that Cambodia will pay $13.3 million toward the $56.3-million tribunal, the government stated last month it would only contribute $1.5 million in cash and would seek bilateral partners to cover the rest of its share of trial funding. The remaining $43 million was to come from the UN through the in­­ternational community. So far, $38.67 million has been pledged by 14 countries.

The European Union and New Zea­land have yet to announce their highly anticipated funding.

But once these two final contributions are made known, all countries expected to help fund the tribunal will have made commitments, said Kek Galabru, action committee chairwoman and president of local rights group Licadho.

“What I worry about is funding from the Cambodian side,” Kek Galabru said Monday. “I don’t know what country they will look to.”

Fears that the tribunal will not be independent and fair have likely given some countries cause for concern when it comes to funding the trial, Kek Galabru said later.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, felt the global community should take the lead in covering the Cambodian government’s fun­ding shortfall but questioned the government’s commitment to the trial.

Ouk Vandeth, director of Legal Aid Cambodia, said he too was worried “about the commitment to establish the tribunal, not just from the government but from foreign countries.”

Helen Jarvis of the government’s Khmer Rouge tribunal task force said the government re­mains confident the funding will be found and that negotiations with possible bilateral partners are in progress.

“If [the NGOs] are concerned, they can help raise some money for us,” Jarvis said. “It would be very much welcome.”

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