UN Asks Gov’t To Endorse Reform at ECCC

The UN has asked the government to endorse several structural reforms at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, which were suggested in a confidential UN expert review conducted in June.

In an Aug 8 letter to Cabinet Minister Sok An, who chairs the government Task Force for the Khmer Rouge Trials, UN Con­trol­ler Warren Sach asked the government to endorse three proposals to ease the awkwardness of the court’s split structure, stave off worries over detention facility oversight, and improve translation.

Sach asked Sok An to allow the administrative structure of the court to be rewired so that the Cambodian director of administration, Sean Visoth, and his international deputy would be responsible for distinct administrative functions. Staff in each section would report directly to either the director or the deputy director, per the recommendations made by the two experts, Robin Vincent, former registrar of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Kevin St Louis, chief of administration at the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Sach also asked that the Cam­bodian-led Court Management Section, which Vincent and St Louis called “not operationally effective,” be relieved of its responsibilities for translation and detention facility liaison. Sach asked that the liaison officer for the court’s government-run detention facility report directly to the director of administration and that translation services be pooled, under the direct supervision of the court’s international deputy director of administration.

ECCC Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis said Sean Visoth replied to the UN on behalf of Sok An in a Sept 19 letter. Both Jarvis and the tribunal’s UN public affairs officer, Peter Foster, declined to say whether the government had en­dorsed the recommendations, saying that was a matter of private correspondence.

In e-mailed comments Wednes­day, Sean Visoth wrote: “We are ready to consider all improvements or reforms as long as they do not impede this strong forward mo­mentum of the court, and as long as they remain within the framework of the foundation documents of the ECCC.”

He said he was “very positive” about boosting cooperation within the Office of Administration and said some of the other recommendations made by Vincent, St Louis, and other UN experts were already underway.

But, he added, “It is our view that it would not be constructive, at this stage of the life of the ECCC, to renegotiate a re-allocation of roles and responsibilities of the two sides, or a re-location of particular units. As we move into the fully operational phase of our work, in our view we should focus on how best to work within the current structure.”


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