Cash-Strapped ECCC Showcases Court Transparency
The Mekong Times Daily
A delegation from the ECCC yesterday returned from a high profile meeting with donor countries and high-ranking UN officials in New York. As budget fears grow, the delegation reportedly took the opportunity to present a recent glowing review of the trial’s much maligned human resource process.
A delegation from the cash-strapped extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) returned yesterday from a meeting with international donors in New York where a positive report on the court’s hiring and firing procedures was presented.
ECCC Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis said the meeting, attended by representatives from some 20 potential donor countries and high-ranking UN staff, was both “productive and fruitful,” but stressed that the even was never supposed to produce immediate concrete conclusions on funding.
She said the main purpose of the meeting was for the ECCC to present the UN with a report of its recent progress and the successful results of a recent review of the trial’s human resources procedures.
The ECCC recently warned its more than 200 Cambodian staff that salary funds will run out by May, while NGOs have cautioned that the court’s lack of transparency, particularly in human resources, may impede its desperate quest for funding.
New York-based legal NGO the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) in Feb 2007 accused Cambodian staff of giving kickbacks to ensure their positions. The UN Development Program (UNDP) released another damning report in June 2007.
“We are still working on the budget and establishing a precise timeline for it,” said Jarvis, adding that the UN has introduced a new special expert to evaluate the court.
The review of the ECCC’s human resources management, the full results of which will be released Apr 4, was carried out by a team of consultants from Cambodia and auditing company Deloitte India, and from said a recent press release.
“[The audit] has been able to show that a robust human resource system has been developed to effectively support the judicial process to minimize the risk of the questionable practices occurring in the future,” said the ECCC statement.
It went on to praise “job-matching,” or finding the right person for the job, saying the court “has taken a pragmatic approach in addressing the inherent constraint of Cambodia’s limited personnel pool.”
Job matching was an area attacked by the June 2007 UNDP human resources which found unqualified staff were being hired, uncovering discrepancies in the selection of candidates, and “weaknesses in the performance evaluation process.”
Long PanhaVuth, OSJI’s Cambodian justice initiative director, said his organization will welcome the findings of the report only of it has been conduced transparently, independently, and objectively.
He said he was unsure if the process was transparent, and warned the court may struggle to find funding if its process is not made more visible to the public and civil society.
The ECCC is currently seeking an additional US$ 114 million, over its initial projected budget of US$ 56.3 million, and a mandate extension from 2008 until 2011.
-The Mekong Times, Vol. 01, #40, Tuesday, April 01, 2008.