ECCC Reparations

This blog is designed to serve as a repository of analyses, news reports and press releases related to the issue of RERAPATIONS within the framework of the Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a.k.a. the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

KRT funding frozen over fresh corruption allegations

By Craig Guthrie
The Mekong Times
Thursday, August 07, 2008

With less than a month until its first trial, allega­tions of corruption made by staff at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT) are be­ing reviewed by the UN and as a result its funding is being withheld, said UN and court officials.

"More than one allegation was submitted in June and will be sent to a UN oversight committee in New York," said Peter Foster, a spokesman for the tribunal's UN side, stress­ing that the complaints are being reviewed and not inves­tigated.

However, the UN Develop­ment Program (UNDP) said in a statement yesterday that it is taking the new allegations "very seriously," and is re­viewing the implications with donors so they can agree how to move forward.

Funding for July was al­ready held up as the UNDP was awaiting a spending plan from the court when "new al­legations of kickbacks arose," it said. The UNDP added it is seeking a quick resolution of the issue "without sacrificing the integrity of the funds sup­porting [the KRT]."

Helen Jarvis, the KRT's public affairs officer, said that it "was a bit of a shock," that the salaries for around 250 Cambodian employees had not arrived, adding the spend­ing plan was sent to the UNDP in mid-July.

This should have given the UNDP plenty of time to orga­nize payment, she said, add­ing that she hopes the issue is resolved swiftly.

Legal watchdog the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) alleged in February last year that staff from the Cambodian side of the court were being required to kickback "signifi­cant" amounts of their sala­ries to government officials to keep or attain their positions.

Although a UNDP-sanctioned human resources re­view carried out earlier this year was declared a success and presented to international donors, the OSJI renewed calls for a probe into the potential kickback scandal in May.

"The [court] has not yet ad­opted mechanisms, such as ... a whistleblower mechanism, that adequately address con­cerns about improprieties such as salary kickbacks," said the group in its monthly tribunal report.

In mid-June a memo was plastered on the walls at the tribunal's offices advising that should any "case of cor­rupt activity arise such as taking deductions from sala­ries or other extortion/bribes, officials or staff must report these to the Complaints Com­mittee..."

It added that KRT officials and staff may not solicit or ac­cept any gift or other item of monetary value from any em­ployee or any person seeking employment at the tribunal.

Foster said it was unclear if the memo had been the reason behind the court staff coming forward. "It could be any com­bination of reasons," he said.

Heather Ryan, the OSJI rep­resentative in Cambodia, said it was "not surprising" that there had been new corrup­tion allegations, but added that it was encouraging that the court now has a system in place for complaints to be submitted.

The allegations of graft come just a few weeks before the court is expected to hold its first public trial, with for­mer S-21 torture center chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, facing charges of crimes against humanity.

Extracted from The Mekong Times
Issue No. 128
Thursday, August 07, 2008


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