[New York | Author: DESA/UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials]
More than 170 UN staff members in Cambodia are engaged in a technical assistance project to support the Khmer Rouge trials and thereby contribute to the long-term reconstruction of the judiciary of the country. Last week Member States pledged more than $16 million at a conference for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) opened by the Secretary General, while $49 million more is still needed for 2010/2011.
The UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT) staff work hand-in-hand with the 344 Cambodian staff of the ECCC, which was established to prosecute those accused of committing atrocities during the period of Democratic Kampuchea, when at least 1.7 million people are believed to have died.
The ECCC is funded by voluntary contributions. Last week Member States pledged approximately $13.5 million to the international component of the budget, and $2.9 million to the national component. These pledges will assist to fund the ECCC’s budget for 2010, but further pledges of approximately $49 million are required to fund fully the budget for 2010 and 2011.
Since commencing work in January 2006, the ECCC has made impressive progress. Hearings against Kaing Guek Eav, the Secretary of the notorious S-21 Security Centre, concluded in November 2009. The Trial Chamber will deliver its verdict on 26 July 2010. Court-initiated investigations including an additional four leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, among them the former Head of State, Khieu Samphan, concluded in January 2010. The Co-Investigating Judges are expected to issue a closing order, which may include an indictment, in September this year.
The hearings demonstrated the deep interest of the Cambodian people in the Khmer Rouge trials. Over 31,000 people visited the Extraordinary Chambers to witness the hearings personally, most of them Cambodians who had travelled to Phnom Penh, often overnight, from 14 of Cambodia’s provinces. The closing arguments were broadcast live on all Cambodian television stations.
The conference which took place at Headquarters in New York was opened by the Secretary-General, Mr. BAN Ki-moon, and heard statements from HE Mr CHAN Tani, Secretary of State of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia; Ms Patricia O’Brien, the Legal Counsel, who recently visited the ECCC; HE Mr KRANH Tony, Acting Director of Administration at the ECCC; and Mr Knut Rosandhaug, Coordinator of UNAKRT.