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France Adds $1 Million to Tribunal Budget

The French government has announced it will give $1 million to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, which continues to face a budget shortfall in its attempts to try five jailed former leaders of the regime.

“For France, justice is one of the crucial issues,” said Rama Yade, secretary of state for the French Foreign Affairs Ministry, before concluding a brief visit. “Impunity is shameful.”

Tribunal officials have said they will need as much as $114 million on top of the $56 million budgeted for the courts, if they are to continue proceedings to their conclusion, perhaps as late as 2011.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said Yade had pledged the $1 million, expected later this year, during meetings with tribunal officials.

“A pledge is encouragement for the Khmer Rouge tribunal, even though only 25 percent of its budget is pledged to support the Cambodian side” of the courts, he said.

The European Commission has contributed about $1.5 million to support the Cambodian side of the hybrid tribunal. The Cambodians have had to take sharp measures to extend their operations in the face of dwindling finances.

In March, Khmer Rouge officials led by chief administrator Sean Visoth met with donor country representatives in New York, to fill them in on the progress of the tribunal.

Donors have been reviewing the proposed extended budget of the tribunal, and following the visit tribunal officials said they were revising their proposed funding needs.

A new budget proposal would be completed by late May, Sean Visoth said Friday.