The United States will provide additional funding to support the work of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Ambassador Stephen Rapp, United States Ambassador at Large for War Crimes, made the announcement March 31st in Phenom Penh. He said that the court made significant progress last year, and in light of that progress, the U.S. Government plans to contribute $5 million to support the court's operations in 2010.
Ambassador Rapp said, "This decision to provide further funding for the court reflects our commitment to see this process through to its conclusion and help Cambodia build a society based on the rule of law." The planned contribution will bring total U.S. financial support for the United Nations sponsored tribunal to $6.8 million.
When the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975, Cambodia had a population of over seven-million people. By the time that regime was overthrown in 1978, an estimated one-million-five-hundred-thousand Cambodians had perished.
The Khmer Rouge regime targeted military and civilian leaders of the former government, ethnic minorities, intellectuals, physicians, teachers, and other professionals. Those who resisted or questioned the regime were often tortured and killed. The Khmer Rouge systematically emptied urban areas, forcing residents into the countryside, where they lacked food, tools, medical care and other necessities. Many died from disease and malnutrition.
The United States has long been a supporter of efforts to bring to justice senior leaders and those most responsible for the atrocities committed under the Khmer Rouge regime. Thirty thousand Cambodians witnessed the proceedings of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in person and millions more watched on television. "The whole world," said Ambassador Rapp, "is aware that Cambodia is truly moving forward from a dark period in its history."