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US Group: Tribunal Needs Adviser

A US-based monitor said Saturday donors need to pressure the Khmer Rouge tribunal to select an independent adviser to ensure the trials of former regime leaders meet international standards.

The Open Society Justice Initiative, which has rankled officials in the past with accusations of corruption within the courts, made its recommendation as US officials weigh whether to give direct funding to the tribunal.

Robert Varenik, acting excecutive director of OSJI, told VOA Khmer from New York that the tribunal, known officially as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, needed funding, but that funding should have conditions.

“States should insist that the United Nations and the Cambodian government appoint an independent special adviser to help address the ECCC’s administrative and operational problems, and demand an investigation into long-standing corruption allegations, which, if left unchecked, could undermine the possibility for fair trials,” Varenik said.

Critics worry the tribunal will run out of money before it is able to try all the leaders who stand accused of atrocity crimes, but UN spokesman Farhan Haq told VOA Khmer recently the tribunal should have enough funds to continue.

“The Extraordinary Chambers need more money if they are to fulfill their historic task of trying Khmer Rouge leaders fairly,” Varenik said. “But the ECCC can achieve this only if the institution as a whole operates transparently.”

US officials have denied pushing for an advisory role in exchange for tribunal funding.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel said on a recent visit that an adviser would make it easier for the US to offer funding, but was not a requirement.