In handing over an initial contribution of $1.8 million to
the Khmer Rouge tribunal, the US
expects the courts to handle corruption issues, a State Department spokesman
"We believe that the court is now capable of meeting
international standards of justice, and our decision at this time to identify
funds reflects our belief that the court has the capacity to respond
effectively and appropriately to these allegations," the spokesman, Sean
The tribunal, which has five former Khmer Rouge leaders in
custody and is on the verge of its first trial, for Tuol Sleng prison chief
Duch, has been undermined by allegations of corruption. In June, Cambodian
staff complained they were asked to make kickbacks to their superiors, an
allegation that was followed by a freeze in funds from some donors.
However, McCormick said the US
funding, announced earlier this week in Phnom
Penh by visiting US Deputy Secretary of State John
Negroponte, was a nod toward tribunal efforts to tackle corruption and
The tribunal has added an international deputy administrator
and established an investigation team to handle the allegations.
Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the US pledge was a significant
political signal, even if the amount was small.
Tribunal officials have said they need around $50 million
added to their budget in order to continue operations through 2009, with $40
million of that going to the UN's side of the hybrid courts.
"Even though the monetary support through the Deputy
Secretary of State is not much, we can say that less is better than nothing and
slow is better than not giving, or coming, at all," he said.
The tribunal remains committed to preventing corruption, he said, including the appointment of a monitoring official and the
transfer of some officials from the personnel office.
Negroponte said Tuesday the $1.8 million only signaled an
initial contribution, and more could follow.