‘I want to use this opportunity to make a special appeal on behalf of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. This Court has achieved important successes in prosecuting the brutal crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge regime.’ Ban Ki-Moon told an audience of dignitaries who were in The Hague to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Peace Palace. ‘Yet today the Court is in crisis. The voluntary contributions on which the Court depends have run dry. Cambodian staff have not been paid since June. The very survival of the Court is now in question.’
Amid the deepening funding crisis, at a court already bogged down by resignations and the ill health of its elderly defendants, Cambodian staff threatened to go on strike on 1 September unless they are paid their overdue wages. Court spokesman Neth Pheaktra confirmed an internal announcement that “despite recent efforts from the government and U.N…and visits to five Asean countries, there is still no news on new pledges and the Cambodian side has a problem with cash flow.”
On August 18, U.N. special expert David Scheffer embarked on a six-day mission in the region to try and secure funding for the court. Tribunal observers have said the international community is cautious about funding the national side of the tribunal because of allegations of government interference and corruption.
The funding dispute puts into question the commitment of the Cambodian authorities, who have been accused of interfering behind the scenes to limit the scope of investigations.
‘Financial failure would be a tragedy for the people of Cambodia, who have waited so long for justice. It would also be a severe blow to our shared commitment to international justice.’ Ban Ki-Moon said, ‘I call on the international community to come forward with the financing to continue this most important judicial process – not just for the weeks ahead, but to see all the cases through to their conclusion.’
Between 1.7 million and 2.2 million people -almost a quarter of Cambodia's population, died between 1975 and 1979 under the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge - many of them from overwork and torture.
You can read more about the cash challenges facing the tribunal here
You can read UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s statement here
To read about donations already made to the tribunal, click here
Story sources: United Nations and The Cambodia Daily.
Image : Photos of young Khmer Rouge fighters ( on display at the tuol sleng Museum, Phnom Penh)
Source: Adam Carr at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons