No Money Slated for KR Trial in 2005 Budget
The Cambodia DailyFriday,
December 24, 2004
By Yun Samean
Notably absent from the 2005 national budget, approved by the NationalAssembly on Wednesday, were provisions for a long awaited Khmer Rougetribunal, prompting one opposition parliamentarian to question thegovernment's commitment to prosecuting aging ex-Khmer Rouge leaders.
A final $56.3 million price tag for the UN-backed tribunal was establishedearlier this month, with the government announcing it would shoulder$13million.
But the Assembly's Finance and Banking Commission Chairman Cheam Yeap saidThursday that funds were not set aside for the tribunal in the 2005 budgetbecause the UN has not established a date for the trials to start.
"There is no specific schedule from the UN to prosecute the Khmer Rougeyet. That is why we do not record the budget for the prosecution," he said.
Lawmakers on Wednesday gave their final approval to allow the government tospend $792 million next year, up $40 million from the 2004 budget.
A reserve of $300 million is included in the 2005 national budget, whichwill be used in case of natural disasters or in the event of other urgentexpenditures, Cheam Yeap said.
Though the tribunal costs are not included in the national budget, thegovernment can use some of those reserve funds to pay for trials if the UNsets a start date, he said.
Opposition lawmaker Keo Remy charged that the government may put thetribunal on hold, citing lack of funds.
"It is clear the government does not want to prosecute the Khmer Rougeleaders," he said Thursday. "The government should make clear in the budgethow much money the government will spend.... to prosecute the Khmer Rouge.
"Calls to Sean Visoth, the secretary-general for the government's tribunaltask force, were unsuccessful Thursday.