As part of a budget proposal under consideration in New York this week, UN judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have asked for wage increases of between 40 and 60 percent to help make their salaries match those of other tribunals, according to budget documents.
Planning a 7 percent staffing increase that will bring the total to 515 UN and local employees and a peak of activity over the next two years, the court is now seeking a 28 percent budget increase for 2010 to a total of $46 million.
In the latest version of its indicative timetable, the court said it expected to close in 2015 with as many as 10 Khmer Rouge suspects tried.
Currently chaired by the US, the six-nation “steering committee” of the court’s heavy-hitting financial backers was scheduled to meet in New York yesterday to review final details to the budget proposal.
In an annex to budget documents presented in December to donor representatives in New York, the tribunal noted that in 2006 international judges were promised annual pay of $129,400, or $10,783.33 per month, over a three-year period, that has now expired.
“The initial salary of ECCC judges is not only significantly below the basic salaries offered to judges in other international tribunals but results in internal discrepancies,” according to the annex.
“Correction is required to ensure that the international judges earn more than the […] Deputy Director of Administration and Senior Judicial Coordinator.”
Judges serving at UN tribunals may hesitate to accept pay cuts by working at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia while current judges could reconsider their positions in the coming year “if service at the ECCC is not extended on mutually acceptable terms.”
Judges at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is staffed by UN judges and prosecutors, earn about $180,000 per year. At the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, they are paid salary and living allowances totaling $208,000 a year, according to the budget annex.
“[A] median figure falling between these two comparators, namely a net base salary of $190,000 […] is suggested as a more meaningful starting point,” according to the budget annex.
The wage increase would also apply to the UN Co-Prosecutor.
Under a 2004 agreement, the court’s Cambodian staff are paid half of the gross pay of UN personnel. However the pay of Cambodian judges, who currently earn about $5,300 per month, will not be affected by the proposed changes.
The court is, however, requesting raises for lower-level Cambodian staff of between 5 and 17 percent.
Lars Olsen, UN legal affairs spokesman for the tribunal, said that as the budget has yet to be approved he could not comment on it.
In an interview on Saturday, James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, which has monitored the tribunal since operations began in 2006, said the ECCC and other hybrid tribunals suffer such salary inequalities.
“The hybrid tribunal model is plagued by this problem of the gross disparities of pay between the domestic staff and international staff and the international community has yet to find a good solution to that,” he said.