Victims of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

To date national staff members at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have gone without pay for over three months. According to the news articles, donors are to be blamed for failing to continue funding the national component as they used to fund the national component in the past. The reason that national staffers are not paid is because donors would like the Royal Government of Cambodia to fulfill its obligation regarding national staff salaries.

Having gone without pay for several months, the interpreters and translators from the Interpretation and Translation Unit, one of the very key organs in the hybrid court, which provides translation and interpreting services for the whole court in three languages: Khmer, English and French, are now staging a work boycott. They won’t return to work unless their salary for the month of December is fully paid and their employment contract for the year 2013 is signed.

What is the impact of the belated payment?

About 300 national staffers at the court are now the direct victims of this problem. They have been performing their tasks without fail. They had hoped they would get paid each month. Yet they have not received the salaries since December. This causes a serious violation to their rights as employees. In other words, their human rights are also abused. Paradoxically, the court, which is supposed to bring justice to victims of the Khmer Rouge regime, is now bringing injustice to the incumbent national staffers.

Civil Parties, who are the direct victims of the Khmer Rouge regime, have been longing for justice and reparations. They have filed their complaints for that purpose. It is too bad that they will have to wait longer as current work boycott will surely protract the court proceedings. The Civil Parties are now double victims. Firstly they are direct victims of the Khmer Rouge regime. Secondly they are victims of the delayed court proceedings. They should not have fallen victims of the latter. They have been waiting far too long; and it is just about time for them to see justice before it gets too late.

The third victims of the delay are the Accused. They have the rights to an expeditious trial. They have been under detention for over six years now. Any delay to the court proceedings means they will have to be detained here for a few more years. Given their fragile health conditions and advanced ages, they perhaps will never live long enough to see through their trials.

Who is responsible for this?

According to Article 15 of the Agreement between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations, the former is fully responsible for this. But that does not mean the United Nations do not have a part in it. The UNs have agreed on the endorsed budget and they had been helping raise funds for the national component for the last six years. If the UNs or donors had decided to stop funding the national component they should have done so by informing the national staffers beforehand. They should not have been silent until this moment. The UNs and donors, therefore, are to be blamed for this. They also bear this responsibility.

Essay by : NOL Dara

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