Thursday, January 19, 2006

STATEMENT ON THE HANDOVER OF THE REMISES FOR THE EXTRAORDINARY CHAMBERS IN THE COURTS OF CAMBODIA

Kingdom of Cambodia
Office of the Council of Ministers

Nation Religion King
Secretariat of the Task Force
Press Release

By His Excellency Sean Visoth, Director of the office of Administration and Executive Secretary of the Royal Government Task Force for the Khmer Rouge
Trials

Today, Wednesday 18 January 2006, part of the High Command Headquarters of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces at Kambol is being handed over to the Royal Government Task Froce for the Khmer Rouge Trials. Two buildings and their surrounds are to be dedicated for use as the premises of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea (ECCC).

This handover is an important milestone in the long history of bringing accountability for these crimes - committed almost 30 years ago. The forthcoming trials have three goals: to offer justice to the victims and survivors, to prevent similar atrocities in the future and to give the younger generation a clear picture of what happened. A whole generation has grown up and is seeking information on what happened and who should be held responsible.

On behalf of the Task Force, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, we wish to express our appreciation to the RCAF for agreeing to postpone by three years their occupancy of the new headquarters, which they have been looking forward to. Both the Cambodian side and the United Nations side believe that this is an ideal site for the ECCC -- providing in a single site the necessary space for both offices and the court room, as well as being more secure and less disruptive to the population of Phnom Penh during the duration of the proceedings.

We take this opportunity also to thank to donors - both those who have contributed to the UN side of the budget as well as to the Cambodian side, which has received recent contributions from the European Union ($1.2 million) and Thailand ($25,000) to complement those from India ($1 million) and the Royal Government of Cambodia ($1.5 million) We are confident that the remaining funds will be soon be secured.

We are now building a joint start-up team for the Office of Administration. Our counterparts from the United Nations, led by Deputy Director of the Office of Administration Michelle Lee, will be arriving in Phnom Penh in the following weeks and we intend to move into these premises in early February after some necessary minor alterations are undertaken.
In the legal and judicial area, the final stages of appointing both Cambodian and international judges, co-prosecutors and co-investigating judges are under way, and we would expect to be able to announce their names shortly. Other preparations are also being carried out, such as development of a compendium of over 100 basic legal documents in the official languages of the court (with assistance from the Government of Norway) and for a regional outreach program (funded by the Government of Australia).

Today marks in bricks and mortar the realisation of the long-awaited establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea.

We know that the tasks ahead for all the staff and judicial officers will be challenging and demanding, but we pledge to do our best to carry out the responsibilities to which we have been assigned so that justice delayed will not mean justice for the Cambodia people.

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