GOVERNMENTS PLEDGE $38.48 MILLION FOR KHMER ROUGE TRIALS IN CAMBODIA

28 March 2005
L/3082

GOVERNMENTS PLEDGE $38.48 MILLION FOR KHMER ROUGE TRIALS IN CAMBODIA

28/03/2005
Press ReleaseL/3082

Pledging Conference for UN

Assistance to Khmer Rouge Trials

PM Meeting

GOVERNMENTS PLEDGE $38.48 MILLION FOR KHMER ROUGE TRIALS IN CAMBODIA

Member States this afternoon pledged a total amount of $38.48 million towards the establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers for the Prosecution under Cambodian Law of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea, $4.52 million short of the goal of $43 million.

[The Extraordinary Chambers for the “Khmer Rouge” trials are part of an agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Cambodia, ratified by that Government on 19 October.  The agreement stipulates, among other things, that the expenses of the Extraordinary Chambers should be borne by voluntary contributions from the international community.  The draft agreement was approved by the General Assembly on 13 May 2003, when it adopted resolution 57/228B without a vote.]

At the outset of the meeting, Warren Sach, Acting Controller, Department of Management, read out a statement on behalf of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.  He said that, after many years of negotiations, the legal framework to establish Extraordinary Chambers within the existing structure of Cambodia for the prosecution of crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea was now in place.  If that framework was to be put into practice, Member States would need to be generous with voluntary contributions.

The estimated total budget for the three years was $56.3 million.  Of that amount, the share of the United Nations, through voluntary contributions, would be $43 million.  Cambodia’s Government would provide the remaining $13.3 million.  The process of setting up the Extraordinary Chambers could only begin once enough money had been raised to fund their staffing and operations.  That condition would be met when pledges for the full three years have been received, along with actual contributions for the first year.

The crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge were of a character and scale that it was still almost impossible to comprehend, according to the Secretary-General.  The victims of those horrific crimes had waited too long for justice.  “By your generous contributions today, you can send a message that the international community will do its part to ensure that, however late, and however imperfect, impunity will not remain unchallenged, and a measure of justice will be done.  That will be a precious and important gift to Cambodia”, he said.

Placing the pledging conference into an historical context, Sean Visoth, Executive Secretary of the Royal Task Force on the Khmer Rouge Trials, in a message read out on behalf of Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sok An, noted that this April would mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Khmer Rouge’s coming to power.  On 17 April 1975, the people had celebrated the end of a bitter and tragic war, flooding the streets of Phnom Penh to welcome the liberating troops.  That happiness, however, had been short lived.  Plunged into a nightmare that lasted three years, eight months and twenty days, Cambodia had lost a quarter of the population -– about 3 million people –- to starvation, untreated illness, torture and execution.

He was confident that the Extraordinary Chambers would not only meet Cambodia’s needs for justice but would also provide a model court meeting international standards.  It had taken a generation to arrive at the current moment, and there was only one final hurdle to jump before establishing the Extraordinary Chambers, namely securing the $56.3 million needed for the Extraordinary Chambers to function for a three-year period.  He hoped the thirtieth anniversary would be approached with the knowledge that the long-delayed process of achieving justice for the people of Cambodia would at last be implemented.

Joining the conference later, Secretary-General Kofi Annan conveyed his gratitude to the governments that had made pledges today.  He said the pledges had moved the establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers an important step forward.

Representatives of some countries, such as the United Kingdom, explained that their pledges were contingent on their national budgetary procedures.  For the same reason, other countries, including the Republic of Korea, said their pledges were only intended for the first year, while further commitments would be made for the following years.

The representative of the United States said that, over the last decade, his country had paid $7 million towards documentation and research costs for the crimes committed in Cambodia.  Legislative restraints made it impossible to pledge moneys towards the Tribunal.

Pledges

Japan

$21,600,000

France

$4,800,000

Australia

$2,350,000

Canada

$1,610,000

Germany

$1,000,000

Netherlands

$2,000,000

Denmark

$525,000

Luxembourg

$66,000

Austria

$360,000

Sweden

$150,000

United Kingdom

$2,870,000

Norway

$1,000,000

Republic of Korea

$150,000

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For information media. Not an official record.