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UN Insists Tribunal Strengthen Management

The UNDP called on Khmer Rouge tribunal administrators Friday to improve some of their operations in order for the courts to continue to meet international standards, but said a recent review had found some improvements.

A UNDP-sponsored review in February made “positive findings,” said Cambodia’s UNDP director, Jo Scheuer, said at a Press conference Friday. “The special review team noted significant improvement in all of these areas and there is no recent allegation of mismanagement in the ECCC.”

But that did not mean the management system of the courts was now perfect, he said.

The independent Open Society Justice Initiative said in 2006 the courts were facing allegations of corruption.

The corruption allegations and previous findings of poor management practices are important because donor countries like the US say the tribunal, known officially as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, must meet international standards before more money is promised.

“There is a need for continued capacity development support to the ECCC, [so that] systems are further strengthened in order to continue to meet international standards,” Scheuer, said Friday, referring to the tribunal by its official acronym.

“The report also identifies some areas that need to be further strengthened, such as in goal setting and performance evaluation, in the conduct of job interviews, job classification and the definition of appropriate minimum qualifications for recruited positions,” he said.

The tribunal’s administrative director, Sean Visoth, said at the press conference the tribunal was “capable and committed.”

“I am not satisfied with the results of this review,” he said. “But I was always confident to say [the courts were] maybe not perfect, maybe not the best possible, but capable and committed.”

As administrative director, he had never “resisted nor rejected” proposals to address shortcomings in the courts.

“The ECCC has suffered considerable damage, including to the morale of the staff, on this issue, over the past eighteen months, following certain broad-brush allegations that were raised in late 2006 and early 2007,” he said. “These included recruitment of unqualified staff, excessive salaries and supposed kickback by judges and other officials for appointment at the ECCC.”

Cambodian judges have strongly denied they pay kickbacks in order to sit in the courts.