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UN Delegation To Discuss Tribunal Financing

An overview of the U.N.-backed court, Monday, June 29, 2009, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
An overview of the U.N.-backed court, Monday, June 29, 2009, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

A senior UN diplomat will lead a delegation to Cambodia next week to discuss the Khmer Rouge tribunal, which is facing mounting financial pressure at it seeks to try two aging regime leaders.

Miguel de Serpa Soares, who is head legal counsel for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will meet with government and court officials, in a visit from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29, according to a UN spokesperson who told VOA Khmer by phone from New York.

The trip follows an agreement between Ban and Prime Minister Hun Sen at an Asean summit last year. The delegation will include Gina Casar, the UN Controller, and David Scheffer, the UN’s special expert for the tribunal, officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

“The purpose of the mission will be to discuss matters relating to the financing and work of the ECCC with senior officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia and to meet with officials of the ECCC,” said Eri Kaneko, deputy spokesperson of the UN.

The UN-backed court has been hampered by financial problems, government interference, and continued criticism it has not done enough to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.

“We want an agreement on the cooperation between the government and the UN to push this tribunal to complete its work in giving justice for the victims,” said Long Panhavuth, a tribunal monitor for the Cambodian Justice Initiative.

Cambodia has provided nearly $3.5 million for the national side of the court for 2014 and 2015, but Long Panhavuth said international donors need to put in more money.

Latt Ky, an independent tribunal monitor, said victims have been disappointed with the court, its funding woes, and delays in trials. Outreach to the public has been poor, and now the court’s legacy is in jeopardy, he said.

“If the UN experts are coming, we are pleased to meet with them and discuss and learn how these issues can move forward,” he said.

The court has so far successfully tried only one defendant, Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch, head of Tuol Sleng prison. Two more defendants, Nuon Chea, 87, and Khieu Samphan, 82, are in detention awaiting the second phase of a trial against them.