Khmer Rouge tribunal secures loan to pay striking workers

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website], the tribunal covering the Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] trials said Wednesday that it has obtained a loan to pay the overdue salaries of its workers. The USD $1.15 million loan from UN donors will cover unpaid salaries [AP report] for 140 workers who have been on strike [JURIST report] since the start of September. A UN spokesperson said that the ECCC still lacks $1.8 million to fund operations from September through the end of the year. Due to budget shortfalls and the poor health of many defendants, some of the trials may be discontinued before a verdict is reached. The ECCC is currently trying two top Khmer Rouge officials for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Khmer Rouge have been blamed for the deaths of more than 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution between 1975 and 1979, but the tribunal has been plagued with budget shortfalls and accusations of corruption. Last week the ECCC's international prosecutor announced his resignation [JURIST report] from the tribunal. Two weeks ago Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that the refusal by the government of Cambodia to pay Cambodian staff at the ECCC was an attempt to undermine efforts to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice. Approximately 100 tribunal staff members went on strike earlier that week to protest the unpaid wages, while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] urged [JURIST report] donors to provide financial support to keep the tribunal running. Tribunal employees reported to HRW that they are also bitter due to "government interference and corruption at the court" [JURIST op-ed], which has been a cause of concern since the trials began. The ECCC was established in 2001 to investigate and try those responsible for the Cambodian genocide, which resulted in the deaths of approximately one-third of the Cambodian population.

 

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