[JURIST] Approximately 100 staff members at Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website], went on strike Sunday in protest of unpaid wages. More than 250 staff members, including judges, prosecutors and interpreters, have not been paid since June of this year because of budgetary problems. The Khmer Rouge tribunal is backed by the UN and receives its funding [official website] solely from voluntary contributions. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] urged [JURIST report] international donors to provide financial support to keep the tribunal running. The court is currently preparing to prosecute [VOA New report] high-level Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan [ECCC profiles], both of whom are charged with war crimes. According to media sources, the strike may affect the progress already made in the trials. Khmer Rouge tribunal workers also went on strike in March for unpaid wages.
The Khmer Rouge have been blamed for the deaths of some 1.7 million people [PPU backgrounder] from starvation, disease, overwork and execution between 1975 and 1979. 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. In June 2011 the ECCC began hearings [JURIST report] for four former leaders of Khmer Rouge. Nuon Chea was arrested and charged in September 2007 and said that he was never in the position to order the deaths attributed to him but that he would cooperate with the ECCC [JURIST reports]. Ieng Thirith and Ieng Sary were also arrested and charged in September 2007, though Sary died while on trial and Thirith has been released [JURIST reports]. The other defendant Khieu Samphan is a former head of state. In 2010, the ECCC handed down its first and only conviction [JURIST report] against Kaing Guek Eav [TrialWatch profile], better known as “Duch”, who was in charge of the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh.