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Sok An, Donors Meet Over Tribunal Funding Woes

Cabinet Minister Sok An on Tuesday urged representatives from 30 donor countries to consider additional funding for the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, which is facing shortfalls for this year and next.

Sok An, who met the donors along with the UN's top tribunal envoy, Clint Williamson, said the government of Cambodia had supported the tribunal and he urged additional support.

“We are committed to the judicial ‘due process’ and will work with the UN to ensure international standards are met,” he said in a statement.

Chan Tani, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, which overseas the tribunal, said the UN side was facing a funding shortfall of $6.4 million for the rest of this year and a shortfall of $29.8 million for 2011. The Cambodian side of the hybrid court was short $1 million for 2010 and more than $7 million for 2011, Chan Tani said.

Williamson, meanwhile, briefed ambassadors of donor countries like France, the EU, Japan, the UK and the US on the progress of the court, which has successfully tried one Khmer Rouge prison chief and is working toward the trials of four senior leaders of the regime. He also said the tribunal, known by the official acronym ECCC, had an important role as a model for the Cambodian court system.

Japanese Ambassador Masafumi Kuroki, who co-chairs the Friends of the ECCC, said in a meeting Tuesday that fundraising was critical for the next two years and the success of the court.

But the court has had difficulty convincing donors to fund its operations, with cash-flow problems earlier this year resulting in the suspension of pay for Cambodian staff members.

The Open Society Justice Initiative, which monitors the court, has said the tribunal suffers from fractured leadership and needs sustained, high-level UN leadership.