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Tribunal Progress ‘Wonderful’: Ambassador

[Editor’s note: Carol Rodley became Cambodia’s ambassador in October 2008. In an interview with VOA Khmer in March, she discussed the growing relationship between Cambodia and the US, on topics ranging from the Khmer Rouge tribunal to the global financial crisis. Below is the fifth of a six-part series resulting from the interview.]

Q. Regarding the Khmer Rouge tribunal, when US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was here last year, he committed $1.8 million to the Khmer Rouge tribunal. Does the US have plans to provide more money to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia?

A. I can’t say definitely because our budget process is still going on, but we are exploring ways to provide an additional contribution to the ECCC. Our first contribution went to the UN side of the tribunal, and I would expect future contribution would also go to the UN side. I am a big supporter of the tribunal actually. It’s not perfect but it is a very, very big and important step forward.

I went to the opening of the Duch trial. I was very moved by what I saw there, to see for the first time a member of the Khmer Rouge facing justice in front of a panel of Cambodian and international judges, sitting side by side in the courtroom, being questioned by Cambodian and international judges, sitting side by side and working together in the courtroom with the participation of the civil parties representing the victims. It was quite wonderful.

Q. Hopefully when the tribunal is all over, the Cambodian judicial system will be improved by the experience of the ECCC.

A. I definitely hope so, and I take encouragement from the fact that the Cambodian people express a lot of confidence in the ECCC. We have done some polling on this. And a big percentage of Cambodians say that they have confidence in the ability of the tribunal to render some justice for the senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge.

Q. There have been accusations about corruption and kickbacks in the hiring practices of the ECCC. Has the court done anything to improve the situation?

A. We have made this point to the government a number of times, that they need to take action to address the allegations of administrative corruption in the tribunal on the administrative side of the tribunal. I think they are making progress, working with the UN office of legal affairs to set up a procedure that will allow the donors to have more confidence in the administration of the tribunal.