PHNOM PENH – Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge war crimes court has been dogged by controversy since its creation, but the U.N.-backed tribunal now faces a potential threat to its very existence after running out of money.
The court’s 2013 budget still has not been approved by international donors, who have appealed in vain for Phnom Penh to provide extra funding before they inject more money themselves.
While the contracts of the tribunal’s international employees have been extended until June, around 270 Cambodian workers, including judges and prosecutors, have not received any pay since November. The court, whose top donors include Japan, the European Union, Australia, France, Germany and Britain, urgently needs $9.5 million for 2013.
Set up in 2006 after years of negotiations, the tribunal has so far survived allegations of corruption, political interference and slow progress in achieving justice, as well as a string of high-profile resignations.
The tribunal has spent $179 million but has achieved just a single conviction, sentencing the Khmer Rouge’s former prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, to life in jail for overseeing the deaths of 15,000 people.