Lawyers of the Cambodian Defenders Project who represent civil parties at the Khmer Rouge tribunal said they will cease work at the court if they do not receive funding soon.
CDP lawyers have been working pro bono for tribunal civil parties since July, when funding from France and Germany ran out, lawyer Hong Kimsuon said.
“If I have no money for working more, [by the] end of January 2009 my colleagues and I will stop working,” Hong Kimsuon said.
“I’m working hard like other parties, like [the] prosecution and defendants’ [lawyers] also,” he said, adding that he and his colleagues should therefore receive funding from the court like the prosecution and defense teams.
The lawyers have appealed to all donors since October, but have only received a promise for funding from DED, the German development agency, he said.
His colleague Kong Pisey said he was considering stopping work but would not give himself a deadline. They said their colleague Yong Panith, who could not be reached Sunday, was also considering no longer working at the court. Together, the three lawyers represent 19 clients in the ECCC proceedings—13 court-recognized civil parties and six Khmer Rouge victims in the application process, they said.
The lawyers work 40 to 50 hours a month on civil parties’ cases and are asking for $1,200 each a month, Kong Pisey said.
“Last year, we get only six months [of funding] and the [other] six months, we worked free. This year, we are still waiting for the new funds, if there are new funds coming,” he said, adding the lawyers were discouraged.
ECCC spokeswoman Helen Jarvis said she could not comment in detail because she had not received a formal complaint from the lawyers.
“If they write us a letter about it, I’m sure we’ll take it seriously,” she said. “Of course we want to facilitate the representation of the victims within the means that we have.”
(Additional reporting by Chhorn Chansy)