Andrew Cayley, the international prosecutor for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website], the tribunal covering the Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] trials, announced [official statement] Monday that he is resigning effective September 16 for personal reasons. Cayley joined the staff of the UN-backed ECCC in 2009. Cayley has worked with a Cambodian prosecutor [AP report], and a tribunal spokesperson said that Cayley's departure should not disrupt the workings of the tribunal. Cayley's replacement, Reserve International Co-Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian, will arrive in October. The ECCC is currently on a break during the trials [JURIST report] of two Khmer Rouge leaders which began in 2011, former head of state Khieu Samphan [ECCC profile] and Nuon Chea [ECCC profile] for crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and other charges.
The Khmer Rouge has been blamed for the deaths of more than 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution between 1975 and 1979. Last week, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that the refusal by the government of Cambodia to pay Cambodian staff at the ECCC was an attempt to undermine efforts to bring former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice. Approximately 100 tribunal staff members went on strike [JURIST report] earlier that week to protest the unpaid wages, while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] urged [JURIST report] donors to provide financial support to keep the tribunal running. Tribunal employees reported to HRW that they are also bitter due to "government interference and corruption at the court," [JURIST commentary] which has been a cause of concern since the trials began. The ECCC was established in 2001 to investigate and try those responsible for the Cambodian genocide, which resulted in the deaths of approximately one-third of the Cambodian population.