Phnom Penh, 8 April 2009
I had several meetings with H,E. Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on 6, 7 and 8 April 2009, to discuss developments at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) and to follow up on our meeting of 23 February 2009, during which we agreed to set up a structure devoted to strengthening the ECCC's human resources management, including anticorruption measures.
I welcome the significant progress made in the first trial before the ECCC, which is an important step towards addressing impunity for the crimes of the former Khmer Rouge regime. The United Nations continues to be convinced that the Court will meet the principle of fair trial. The United Nations reminds all concerned of the essential requirement set out in the statutory framework of the Court agreed between the Government of Cambodia and the United Nations, according to which the Court must be able to carry out its functions with full respect to the need for judicial independence.
I met with H.E. Sok An with the ambition to work together to put the issue of corruption behind us by concluding an agreement, which would establish a credible mechanism addressing allegations of corruption. In our discussions we reaffirmed the need for one national and one international Ethics Monitor. We did not manage to reach final agreement today. However, I have submitted to H.E. Sok An - for his consideration - a draft Exchange of Letters setting out an ethics monitoring mechanism acceptable to the United Nations, which in my view should also be acceptable to the Cambodian Government.
In the meantime, the United Nations continues to believe that for the ethics monitoring system to be credible the staff should have the freedom to approach the Ethics Monitor of their own choice and put forward complaints without fear of retaliation. Such freedom of choice is an imperative element of a trustworthy ethics monitoring system. It remains critical to the United Nations that allegations of corruption and other misconduct are effectively addressed. Therefore, we will further strengthen our own anti-corruption mechanism within the Court. From now on, a UNAKRT Ethics Monitor will advise and guide staff on ethics, and continue to forward all complaints received to the United Nations Headquarters in New York for its review and action, as appropriate. Any complaint received will be shared with the Cambodian authorities while respecting confidentiality in a way that ensures full protection of staff of the ECCC against any possible retaliation for good faith reporting of wrongdoing, as appropriate.
The United Nations welcomes the fact that the joint sessions will continue to meet on a regular basis with the objective to strengthen the ECCC's entire administration.