[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] was cleared of financial mismanagement in an independent audit [PDF text; summary, PDF] released Friday. The review was ordered by the ECCC Project Board in hopes that it would quell concerns raised by some foreign donors after the court made a formal request for an additional $114 million [JURIST report] last month that would increase the court's budget from $56.3 million to $170 million and allow it to continue operations until March 2011, past its originally scheduled completion date in 2009. The audit found:
Combating the dual challenges of a past which has left behind a nation still struggling to achieve modern management practices and the daunting task of meeting the expectations of the international community has been an uphill task for the ECCC.The ECCC currently has five former Khmer Rouge [JURIST news archive] leaders in custody charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for their roles in the Communist regime of the 1970s, but to date, no top officials have faced trial. AFP has more.
In this critical phase of its operations it was encouraging see that there is a willingness and commitment to meet the expectations of the international community. A great deal of standardization has happened over a very short period which has replaced the ad hoc arrangements that used to be the norm when ECCC commenced its operations. The recent reviews and audits have also helped in highlighting areas of weaknesses which have been improved upon.
Robust HR systems have been developed and implemented to address previous shortcomings, to give effective support to the judicial process and to minimize the risk of questionable HR practices occurring in the future. There is however a degree of hand-holding and capacity building necessary to support ECCC to continue to meet expected international standards. Zero tolerance for non-compliance with HR systems and the Code of Conduct will also support ongoing improvement in the performance of the ECCC.
The Khmer Rouge is generally held responsible for the genocide of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] who died between 1975 and 1979. The ECCC was established by a 2001 law [text as amended in 2005, PDF] to investigate and try surviving Khmer Rouge officials. In December 2007, Cambodian students and Buddhist monks held protests [JURIST report] over concerns that the trials were moving too slowly and that many former Khmer Rouge leaders in UN custody could die before facing justice.