The executive secretary of the government’s Khmer Rouge tribunal task force on Wednesday brushed off his New York-based UN counterpart’s concerns that communication between them regarding the tribunal had stalled.
In a July 19 e-mail, the UN’s tribunal coordinator Karsten Herrel wrote to Sean Visoth that potential foreign donors had hoped to meet the task force in Phnom Penh to finalize tribunal budget discussions before the end of July.
That request was conveyed on July 7, Herrel wrote, according to a copy of the message obtained by The Cambodia Daily.
“Regrettably, my message has remained without reply to date. Repeated phone calls to the Task Force Secretariat and to the Cambodian Permanent Mission to the United Nations also have failed so far to elicit a response,” Herrel wrote.
The formation of a new government prevented him from answering Herrel, Sean Visoth said Wednesday. “Mr Herrel doesn’t know and doesn’t understand that the Cambodian government is just being formed,” he said. “We are very busy. Why does he want to visit our house now?”
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is scheduled to report to the General Assembly in August on tribunal preparations.
Herrel wrote that it would be “desirable—and indeed in the interest of the project” if a consensus on the budget could be reported then, along with an indication of what aspects of the tribunal Cambodia is prepared to take responsibility for. Regarding the budget, Sean Visoth said Annan will “make a report in July or August. Then we will see.”
As for Cambodia’s commitments to the tribunal, he said only that the government would pay for the Cambodian staff.
Sean Visoth also confirmed that an orientation seminar planned for Friday at the Royal School for Judges and Prosecutors has been postponed until the National Assembly ratifies the agreement with the UN to establish the tribunal. That bill is still being drafted, Sean Visoth said.
In addition, Chan Ven, Deputy Secretary-General of the National Assembly, said Wednesday that the legislature’s composition is not yet known, as some parliamentary candidates will take government positions and need replacements.
Both officials said that the tribunal remains the Assembly’s priority.
“Everything has just taken longer than everyone expected,” task force adviser Helen Jarvis said, adding that she had spoken to Herrel several times in recent weeks. “There is certainly no hostility or reneging on our side.”