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UN Loan To Pay Striking Cambodian Tribunal Staff

An overview of the U.N.-backed court, ECCC, in Phnom Penh, file photo.
An overview of the U.N.-backed court, ECCC, in Phnom Penh, file photo.
PHNOM PENH - The United Nations will provide a loan of $1.15 million to the Cambodian side of the beleaguered Khmer Rouge tribunal, enough to pay three months of salaries to 250 staff who went on strike earlier this month.

The UN-backed court, which is undertaking only its second trial of senior Khmer Rouge leaders has struggled with funding all year.

“The United Nations has successfully worked with a group of major donors to secure their authorization to make a further loan to national component of the [tribunal] for the payment of arrears of national salaries,” Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the UN side of the court, said in a statement Wednesday.

The funding will provided salaries for the months of June, July and August and would be in the hands of staff “in the coming days,” he said.

What happens next is an open question. Donors have proven reluctant to continue funding the tribunal, especially the Cambodian side, which has been plagued with allegations of corruption and mismanagement since the 2006 inception of the court.

Neth Pheaktra, a spokesman for the Cambodian side of the court, said the money would be sufficient to continue operations through September, after which the Cambodian side would need another $1.8 million to run through the end of the year.

Olsen said Wednesday that the Cambodian government must find a way to fund the national side of the court. “Any further strikes could risk delaying the judicial proceedings and jeopardize the court’s ability to function,” he said.