A visiting UN delegation met Tuesday with Cabinet Minister Sok An for talks about the Khmer Rouge tribunal but then canceled a press conference scheduled for today. The talks were widely expected to focus on resolving the matter of kickback allegations reported earlier this year by Cambodian staff at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
After 90 minutes of closed-door discussions at the Council of Ministers, the three-member delegation, including Assistant UN Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Peter Taksøe-Jensen, Nicholas Haysom, director of political affairs in the office of the UN Secretary-General, and UN Legal Officer Patricia Georget, left without taking questions from reporters.
Council of Ministers adviser Pen Ngoeun told reporters that both sides would release a joint statement today, adding that the discussion was “very, very fruitful.”
A statement issued late Tuesday night by former UN tribunal spokesman Peter Foster said a press conference scheduled to be held this evening by the UN delegation had been canceled.
“A press statement regarding this visit will be issued at a later date,” the statement said.
Sok An in August told the UN Office of Legal Affairs that Cambodia, and not the UN, had the legal authority to respond to any irregularities on the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Cambodian side. The government in September also reacted with dismay to the findings of a UN review of the allegations, which it said had unfairly identified Cambodian court staff.
Heather Ryan, a tribunal monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, said Tuesday she believed greater cooperation between both
sides was necessary.
“The court is facing many challenges now and hopefully increased cooperation between the government of Cambodia and the United Nations may help the court overcome them,” she said.
In a statement released Friday, the UN Office of Legal Affairs said the purpose of the meeting was “to address a number of issues of common concern to the UN and the Cambodian authorities.”