Thursday, September 29, 2005

U.N. team to visit Cambodia to wrap up tribunal budget

Friday December 3, 13:13 PM

(Kyodo) _ A U.N. delegation will visit Cambodia next week to wrap up the budget and security details of a planned genocide tribunal for leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, a Cambodian government official said Friday.

Sean Visoth, executive secretary of the government's Khmer Rouge tribunal task force, told Kyodo News the U.N. team will arrive in the country on Wednesday for four days of work.

The six-member delegation will be led by Mohammed Said, the U.N. coordinator for the Khmer Rouge trial.

Sean Visoth said the three-year trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for the deaths of at least 1.7 million in late 1970s is projected to cost $57 million.

The final cost is to be worked out with donor countries or a group of interested states, he said.

Ngy Tayi, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said the budget issue will be raised during a two-day donor (Consultative Group) meeting for Cambodia on Monday and Tuesday in Phnom Penh.

Japan leads in foreign assistance to Cambodia, but a Japanese Embassy official did not confirm Friday whether Japan will raise the issue, saying the Cambodian government and the World Bank, co-chairs of the donor meeting, are still arranging programs for discussions.

After six years of negotiations, Cambodia and the United Nations signed an agreement in June 2003 to set up the tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity during the regime's 1975-1979 rule.

On Thursday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen repeated his concern the budget could be an obstacle for the tribunal.

"We have already had the law to prosecute the Khmer Rouge, but the United Nations claims that they do not have money...Once cash is available, the suspects would have already died," Hun Sen said.

In October, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan warned that the planned tribunal can only begin once there is enough funding.

"The process of setting the chambers can only be initiated once sufficient money is in place to fund the staffing and the operations for a sustained period of time," Annan said in the report, dated Oct. 12, to the 59th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

Annan added, however, that the governments of France and Japan had informed him of their intention to make voluntary contributions in the amount of $1 million and $3 million, respectively, for the first year of the tribunal.

Australia has announced a pledge of A$3 million (US$2.1 million) for the tribunal's planned three years of operation, he said.

All three surviving top Khmer Rouge leaders -- Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea -- are in their late 70s and live freely in the country. Supreme Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998.

Only two senior Khmer Rouge figures are now in custody -- former military commander Ta Mok and Kaing Khek Ieu, better known as Duch, who ran a Khmer Rouge torture and interrogation center in Phnom Penh.


Post a Comment

<< Home