UN Team Sets Return for KR Tribunal Talks Talk

A UN delegation will return to Phnom Penh on Tuesday to hammer out a budget and make other preparations for a trial of surviving Khmer Rouge leaders.

Om Yentieng, adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, said Thursday that the UN’s deployment will revolve around two meetings—one with their counterparts on the government’s tribunal task force and one with the government, plus representatives of potential donor states.

The former will focus on security, while the latter will try to produce a budget, Om Yentieng said.

So far, the budget has tripped up the whole process of getting Pol Pot’s aging cadres into the dock, as donor nations are suffering from what some observers re­fer to as “tribunal fatigue.”

With similar endeavors to atone for genocide and crimes against humanity having broken budgets and time frames, some nations have indicated that they are not willing to dole out similar amounts to prosecute about a half-dozen old men in Cambodia, observers and diplomats say.

One source following negotiations has described the balking a few months ago as a “full-scale revolt” led by nations that have long urged Cambodia to bring the Khmer Rouge to justice.

The source fingered France, Japan, and Australia as the ringleaders, with support from the US, the Netherlands and other nations.

But Om Yentieng expressed confidence in next week’s meeting.

“I think we can finalize the budget because I discussed it many times already,” he said.

Om Yentieng said that the return of the UN delegation was not brought about by Hun Sen’s abrupt cancellation on Wednesday of his trip to UN headquarters in New York, which had been scheduled for later this month.

A UN official, who declined to be named, confirmed that the visit had been planned days before Hun Sen announced he would send Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong to New York in his stead.

The official said that the UN’s tribunal coordinator Karsten Herrel had been trying to arrange this visit since the new government came together in mid-July. The official said the bilateral meeting with the Cambodian camp would also address the administration of the tribunal, as well as security.

Hun Sen’s decision to stay in Cambodia until the Asia Europe Meeting next month in Hanoi has sparked some speculation as to why the premier would skip out on meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and addressing the General Assembly.

But most diplomats declined to comment Wednesday. One Asian diplomat did say that there was no reason so far to doubt the government line: Hun Sen has work to do at home.

Hun Sen had also said in July that he would go to UN headquarters after the National Assembly had adopted the bill to establish the tribunal. The bill has yet to reach the Assembly.


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