US Envoy Weighs In on Tribunal Corruption
Original report from Phnom Penh
21 May 2009
The top US envoy for war crimes called on the Khmer Rouge tribunal Thursday to resolve lingering allegations of corruption and mismanagement, a government spokesman said, following meetings with officials from the court.
US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Clint Williamson met with tribunal administration, legal affairs and public affairs officials.
“He raised an administration mechanism to deal with discontent and resolve complaints from both sides, international and national staff,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said.
The UN and Cambodia are at odds over how corruption complaints should be handled, following reports by Cambodian staff they pay kickbacks to work at the court.
Money for the Cambodian side of the UN-backed tribunal is running out, with donors unwilling to pay for a substandard court and the UNDP withholding funding until the corruption issue is dealt with.
However Phay Siphan said Williamson appreciated the court’s work so far in keeping costs low and the quick arrests of five suspects, as well as the timely approval of internal rules.
Williamson is expected to hold a press conference Friday to further detail his five-day trip, which ends Saturday.
His visit follows failed talks in April between Peter Taksoe-Jensen, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, and Council Minister Sok An.
The UN has said complainants at the hybrid court should have their identities protected, but the Cambodian side says anonymity can lead to false claims.
The two sides had agreed in February to a basic mechanism to solve corruption issues “which is not quite different” from Williamson’s proposal, Phay Siphan said.