Global Policy Forum

Price of Justice for Khmer Rouge Up $10m


By Richard Woodd

Phnom Penh Post
June 17, 2004

The estimated cost of the proposed Khmer Rouge genocide trial (KRT) in Phnom Penh is now over $60 million, which is up $10 million on the initial forecast. The United Nations is expected to meet 75 percent of the cost. Cambodia is relying on donations from member countries to cover its share but so far only Australia has made a commitment of $2.2 million.

Trial task force secretariat member Dr Helen Jarvis confirmed the estimated cost was now over $60 million and it was subject to discussion and review by potential donors, the Government and the UN. "Although we are concerned about the cost we have to be careful not to jeopardise the international standards required," Jarvis said. "There is a risk that could happen with budget cuts.

"Compared to the cost of other current ongoing genocide tribunals, it is a modest amount for the estimated three years the trial is likely to run. The Yugoslavia tribunal is costing $200 million a year, Rwanda over $100 million a year [and not scheduled to end until 2010] and Sierra Leone $60 million a year."

She said the secretariat was very pleased about the Australian Government's decision to double its original pledge and hoped this would encourage other donors. Asked whether the Government was concerned about meeting its share of the cost, Jarvis said: "We understand that the reason no further donors have come forward is they're waiting for a final budget figure before making commitments. I don't think they're holding back for any other reasons. "The Interested States [group of UN member countries which have actively supported the KRT] have put forward 50 different ideas and suggestions for enhancing processes and facilities, or reducing costs. Everyone is taking a supportive, realistic view."

The question of what might happen to the trial if there was no National Assembly to pass the additional enabling legislation drafted since the first law on the establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers was passed in 2001, had not arisen, she said. KRT Task Force was "using this period to advance the preparations to a higher degree than is usually possible with these courts". A security committee was appointed in March, and work was proceeding to create a separate victim and witness support unit, governed by internationally agreed standards.

The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, on May 18 appointed Nicolas Michel from the Swiss Foreign Ministry as the new head of the UN legal office, replacing Hans Corell (Sweden) who has retired after 10 years service, which included negotiation of the Extraordinary Chambers agreement with Cambodia. Jarvis said Michel would be involved in advising on the selection of nominations for international judges for the KRT. This is the most complex section of the EC law and agreement.

Meanwhile, there have been interesting developments around an order from the General Prosecutor of the Appeals Court Hangrau Raken requesting the prosecutors of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap Courts to charge and arrest three former KR leaders, Khieu Samphan, 73, Ieng Sary, 75, and Nuon Chea, 77. The order dated April 9 stated that it resulted from a petition of April 5 by representatives of the National Assembly and heads of various NGOs. They were concerned that the three "may go into hiding abroad, given that all three are in possession of passports." The charges were to be laid under articles of the 1994 law outlawing the Khmer Rouge.

The General Prosecutor finally noted that it would be necessary to first examine the 1996 Royal pardon of Ieng Sary, against his conviction and death sentence (in absentia) by the genocide tribunal in 1979. However, none of the prosecutors acted on the order, saying they lacked documented evidence, funds or judicial power. Two other former KR leaders Ung Choeun a.k.a. Ta Mok, 77, and Kaing Khek Iev, alias Duch, 62, were arrested in 1999 and have been detained without trial ever since under a special law to keep them in custody.

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