Global Policy Forum

Cambodia PM Rebukes Partners

Associated Press
September 16, 2004

Cambodia's prime minister Thursday delivered a sharp warning to the foreign partners in a planned Khmer Rouge genocide trial, saying they shouldn't send personnel who would just collect high salaries without working much. Hun Sen also said his poor Southeast Asian country can only pay in kind its share toward the cost of conducting the U.N.-backed international tribunal.

His strongest comments were reserved for critics who accuse Cambodia's court system of being too weak and corrupt to hold a fair trial to bring to justice the remnants of the Khmer Rouge. "I'm quite angry. Every day, there's a cry that Cambodia's courts are corrupt, corrupt. It really makes me boiling mad," he said. "Not everything Cambodian is inferior and everything foreign is intelligent. Not everything white-skinned is good," he said in a speech at the inauguration of Cambodia's Bar Association's offices.

Cambodia's Parliament has yet to ratify last year's agreement with the United Nations - reached after five years of negotiations - to establish the tribunal. None of the top Khmer Rouge leaders have faced trial for the deaths of 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution during its 1975-79 rule. The movement's chief, Pol Pot, died in 1998. The planned trial will have mixed teams of Cambodian and foreign prosecutors and judges, with Cambodians in the majority, and any decisions will require a vote of a majority plus one.

Hun Sen said the foreign prosecutors and judges should be familiar with Cambodia's recent history, and not just come to collect high salaries. "Judges and prosecutors in a number of their countries are unemployed, so they want to get high pay from the United Nations ," he added. "Let's be frank about this."

Hun Sen also said while the tribunal agreement calls on Cambodia and the international community to split the trial's costs 50-50, the country can't pay that much in cash. He said Cambodia's contribution can be in form of facilities, utilities and security. "If Cambodia is asked to put up cash, I say no. If you want to prosecute them (Khmer Rouge leaders), you pay," he said.

The only cash Cambodia planned to spend on the trial was for the salaries of Cambodian personnel, said Sean Visoth, a senior member of the government's task force on the tribunal . Sean Visoth said Cambodia will hold new talks with a U.N. team about the budget after the agreement is ratified. He gave no date. He said the latest estimated budget is $57 million, higher than the $40 million originally proposed by the government.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on the Special Tribunal for Cambodia
More Information on International Criminal Tribunals and Special Courts


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