UN Requests Court Officials For KR Trial

The UN has called on member countries to submit the names of international judges and prosecutors they would like to see nominated for the Khmer Rouge tribu­nal.

The UN Secretariat sent a letter to member countries on June 30, with nominations for the positions—a total of nine from the in­ternational community—to be submitted by Aug 29.

“On behalf of the Secretary-General [Kofi Annan], I have the honor to invite your government to suggest the names of individuals whom the Secretary-General might nominate for appointment,” wrote Nicolas Michel, the UN’s un­­dersecretary-general for legal af­fairs.

Eight international judges and one international prosecutor will work alongside 11 Cambodian judges and one Cambodian prosecutor during the trial’s expected three-year duration.

The international court officials will make $129,400 per year calculated upon how long they actually work, the letter said. The officials will start at different times and serve for varying lengths of time de­pending on the phase—investigation, trials and appeals—of the tribunal they are involved in.

The judges and prosecutor will not receive medical insurance or a pension, the letter said, and no in­formation about per diem al­low­ances was included.

Once the submissions are re­ceived by the UN, a list of at least 13 nominees will be forwarded to the Supreme Council of Mag­is­tracy, which will select the final list of officials who will preside with Cambodian judges and prosecutors, the letter said.

Sean Visoth, secretary of the government’s Khmer Rouge Tri­bu­nal Taskforce, said the government has been told about the letter.

“We have been aware of this letter the UN Secretariat sent to the member [countries] asking for ap­plications for prosecutors and judges,” he said Tuesday before saying he was too busy to comment further.

Canadian Ambassador Donica Pot­tie described the call for nominations as “particularly good news.”

“I hope this will get excellent candidates,” she said, adding the call wasn’t a surprise to her considering the UN wants to ensure it has personnel in place and is rea­dy to act whenever the tribunal begins.

In recent weeks, international diplomats have said that the UN is in the final stages of choosing a de­puty coordinator for the tribunal who will work with a Cambodian coordinator to oversee the trial’s ad­­ministrative needs.

In addition, the UN Web site has been calling for applications for a person to oversee the tribu­nal’s financial unit as well as chief of the tribunal’s personnel de­partment, both of whom will work under the deputy coordinator.

The deadline for applying for either position is today.

“I am hoping both the UN and [government] will speed up the ap­pointment and recruitment pro­cesses,” said Youk Chhang, executive director of the Document­ation Center of Cambo­dia.

“They should widely an­nounce and publicize it so that they can draw in many excellent candidates.”

But several observers were ta­ken by surprise by the call for nominations.

One senior diplomat praised the UN, but said there are still other obstacles to overcome.

“We’re all focused on finding the funding on the Cambodian side right now,” the diplomat said.

Sean Visoth has repeatedly stated that the tribunal cannot move forward until all funding, specifically an $11.8-million shortfall on the Cambodian side, has been se­cured.

The government has maintain­ed that it is waiting for international donors—many of which have already pledged money for the tribunal—to cover its shortfall.

In addition, Sean Visoth said last month that an offer to use Ja­pan­ese bilateral aid—money that Cam­­bodia already has—to pay for the tribunal would only be used as a “last resort.”

International donors have ex­pressed frustration and impatience with the government’s apparent lack of will in finding al­ternative sources of income, and ob­servers have questioned the gov­ernment’s commitment to the tribunal.

Rights groups have also asked for more information about the process through which Cambo­dian and international judges will be chosen by the Supreme Coun­cil of Magistracy, the step many consider the most important for ensuring the tribunal meets international standards.


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