US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues Clint Williamson concluded a three-day visit to Cambodia December 7, part of an ongoing assessment of whether the Khmer Rouge tribunal merits US assistance.
Several sources close to the court said the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia is likely to need another $100 million to continue operations into 2011, though the court has yet to release official figures.
Williamson said he was “encouraged” by the tribunal’s progress, but that it is too early to say when—or whether—the US would decide to commit funds. The recent arrests of five suspects by the ECCC has helped neutralize long-standing concerns that the Cambodian government has little desire to see trials commence, Williamson said in an interview.
His December 7 meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An was “very productive,” he added.
The US has yet to provide any direct assistance to the court but Williamson said that the visit, his first, is a sign of the increasing seriousness with which the US is considering direct funding. Williamson’s deputy, Milbert Shin, has visited Cambodia three times this year.
The US, like other donors, has said that funding would be contingent on the court correcting its troubled administration and addressing, even if quietly, allegations of corruption.
Williamson declined to say what specific conditions the US might consider putting on its aid if it does decide to fund the court.
The US was closely involved in the negotiations that led to the establishment of the ECCC, but the US’ Congress blocked direct funding, until the Secretary of State certified that the court can meet ill-defined “international standards.”
Direct funding, Williamson said, is “something that’s going to require Congress shifting on. We’ll see if that happens or not based on the discussions we have when we get back.”
The US has given more than $500 million to the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and provided 41 percent of the budget for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Williamson said.
ECCC Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis declined to comment on the details of talks with Williamson, saying only that the court welcomes funding from all sources.