A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website]on Friday urged the Cambodian government to give its full cooperation to the new judges [text] that will eventually be appointed to investigate the genocide during the Khmer Rouge regime [BBC backgrounder]. The statement also explained that the secretary-general will begin the process of selecting a new Co-Investigating Judge and reserve Co-Investigating Judge to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive]. These appointments have become necessary after both previous judges, Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet and Judge Siegfried Blunk [JURIST reports], resigned citing interference on the part of the Cambodian government in relation to cases 003 and 004 [case materials]. The secretary-general noted the importance of government cooperation in this matter in his statement:
It is essential that the Royal Government of Cambodia extend full cooperation to the new judges once it has been informed by the Secretary-General of their selection. ... The Royal Government of Cambodia should afford the new international Co-Investigating Judge every assistance and full cooperation to carry out his or her functions. The United Nations will remain vigilant in its efforts to ensure that such assistance and cooperation are provided. ... The Royal Government of Cambodia and the international community [should] view the selection of the new judges as an opportunity to move forward beyond recent events, and enable the ECCC to carry out its obligations in full by considering all of the cases before it in accordance with international standards of fairness.The court is charged with leading the investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for an estimated 2.5 million deaths hundreds of thousands reported instances of torture.
There has been much controversy surrounding the ECCC, including questions of its legitimacy coming from two separate reports: one report [JURIST report] from the International Bar Association [official website] and another report [JURIST report] from the Open Society Justice Initiative [advocacy websites]. Thus far, the only former Khmer Rouge leader to be convicted [JURIST report] is Kaing Guek Eav [ECCC materials], who was sentenced to life in prison last year. In October, accused Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen [BBC profile] for interfering with the UN-backed war crimes tribunal. In October 2010, Hun Sen informed the UN that Cambodia will not allow further prosecutions of low-ranking Khmer Rouge officers [JURIST report].