Thursday, December 29, 2005

Europe Pledges $1.2 Million for KR Tribunal

The Cambodia Daily
Volume 33 Issue 38
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Lee Berthiaume
The European Commission announced Wednesday that it will provideapproximately $1.2 million to help cover the Cambodian government's shareof the Khmer Rouge tribunal budget, to be spent on the salaries ofCambodian judges and prosecutors.
The EC is hopeful an international tribunal will offer long-term benefitsin the form of an improved judicial system, said Daniel Costa, acting ECcharges d'affaires.
The money was originally pledged in April but, he said, it was unclear atthe time whether the money would be used to help cover the UN portion ofthe budget or the Cambodian share. "
In the end, it was more relevant to participate on the Cambodian side,"Costa said Wednesday after EC and UN Development Program representativessigned an agreement setting the details of the contribution. "
The UN is making some steps [towards fulfilling its budget requirements].On the Cambodian side there are still some question marks," he said.
According to an agreement between the government and the UN, theinternational community was to pay $43 million for the $56.3 milliontribunal and Cambodia was to pay the remaining $13.3 million.
However, the government has said it can only afford to contribute $1.5million and has been appealing to donors for help.
With Wednesday's announcement, the EC joins India as the only donor to havecontributed money for the government's share of the budget. Now $9.6million more needs to be found.
Costa said the EC grant, which will be dispersed when the starting date ofthe tribunal is officially announced, will not be administered in the sameway as the Indian contribution.
While the Indian money will be deposited into a Cambodian government trustfund, Costa said, the EC funds will be administered by the UNDP to ensuretransparency and accountability.
"We are contributing to the Cambodian side of the subject, but not directlyto the Cambodian government," he said. "We are cautious with this."
Some diplomats have expressed frustration at the government's requests formoney to cover its side of the budget, and its apparent unwillingness topursue alternative funding methods.
The EC's financial support will give it more leverage in pushing thegovernment to take action to start the tribunal, Costa said. "If we don'tsee any results in a few months," he added, "we will start puttingquestions to them.
"Tribunal coordinator Sean Visoth said he was too busy to comment, andtaskforce member Helen Jarvis could not be contacted.
Youk Chhang, executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia,who has called on the government to be more active in securing money forits share of the tribunal, welcomed the news. "It's great to see some support is coming," he said.

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