Khmer Rouge Tribunal funding: worth it?

E1CBD863-8888-42FA-9EE5-E453AF1901D2_w640_r1_sSo Australia has just committed another $3 million to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, bringing Canberra’s total support to date to $24 million, second only to Japan.

Since the Tribunal began in 2006 it’s secured just one conviction, the notorious Deuch, in charge of the torture centre at Tuol Sleng on street 113. Two more cases are in the works with verdicts due on 7 August. And that’s it. One case completed, two more almost so. Not that you’d realise it if you read the UN press release: “Important progress has been made”, it says.

Personally I’m not convinced. Those eight years have cost $155 million in foreign donor funding. That’s well over $50 million per case. Plus another $50 million from the Cambodian side.

Where has it all gone? Mostly on expensive international lawyers.

Could it have been spent instead on schools, roads, clinics and other things?

Is anyone, anyone at all, apart from the lawyers, getting value for money out of this?

This afternoon I’m going to a book launch, Hybrid Justice, by John Ciorciari and Anne Heindel. Apparently the authors “examine the contentious politics behind the tribunal’s creation, its flawed legal and institutional design, and the frequent politicized impasses that have undermined its ability to deliver credible and efficient justice and leave a positive legacy.” (That’s from the blurb at Amazon).