The UN Development Program-commissioned audit of the human resources section of the Cambodian side of the Khmer Rouge tribunal was triggered by concerns about the transparency of hiring procedures, the UNDP said in a statement Tuesday.
“Various reports in the latter part of 2006 raised concerns about transparency of hiring procedures of the [Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia]. UNDP takes such matters very seriously and, in response, immediately commissioned an internal audit of the ECCC,” the statement reads.
The audit was conducted from Jan 29 to Feb 2 and an audit report is currently being drafted, the UNDP said.
Officials from the European Commission, the Canadian Embassy in Phnom Penh and the Netherlands Embassy in Bangkok on Tuesday said they had not received the audit report and declined to comment further.
“We want to see the issue clarified as soon as possible,” German Ambassador Pius Fischer said.
The Open Society Justice Initiative, a New York-based legal group, issued a statement Thursday urging a speedy and thorough investigation into allegations that Cambodian tribunal staffers, including judges, have to kick back significant percentages of their wages to government officials in exchange for their positions.
In response, the tribunal’s Director of Administration Sean Visoth said that he would no longer cooperate with the NGO’s staff Helen Jarvis said, the tribunal’s chief of public affairs.
In a letter dated Friday to James Goldston, OSJI’s New York-based executive director, Sean Visoth wrote that he wished to have no further cooperation with the NGO. Sean Visoth called OSJI’s statement “offensive and destructive,” and described the group’s allegations as “unspecific, unsubstantiated and unsourced.”
Sean Visoth also took the group to task for suggesting that the UNDP’s human resources audit was related to allegations of kickbacks.
Goldston, speaking by phone from New York on Tuesday, said, “We have heard these allegations made by a number of persons closely involved in the court.”
He added: “I don’t believe they are a secret to the court.”
A source close to the court said Tuesday that the audit’s mandate did not include an investigation of the alleged kickbacks.
“The auditing group privately expressed its concern about the possibility of that type of corruption to UN officials,” the source added.
For now, the relationship between OSJI and the ECCC seems to be in limbo. The source close to the court claimed that the tribunal’s administration office Monday decided not to accept OSJI funding for two outreach officers in the public affairs office. Jarvis declined comment on the court’s relationship with OSJI.
In an interview Tuesday, ECCC Co-Prosecutor Robert Petit said, “OSJI has always been a positive influence at the court. I don’t see any reason for that to stop.”
Goldston said that OSJI would not terminate its relationship with the court. “The most important work we have done with the court is monitoring its activities and publicly disseminating information about its activities. That will continue,” he said.