Just over a year after taking office, the head of the Khmer Rouge’s tribunal’s victims unit said Monday she had notified the court of her intention to resign.
“It is a personal issue that I wanted to resign,” Keat Bophal said, declining to elaborate. She said she had informed the court’s office of administration of her intention not to renew her contract but had yet to receive a response.
Keat Bophal’s impending departure follows the recent departure of the unit’s deputy chief, Gabriela Gonzalez-Rivas, who stepped down in December.
The focal point for victims at the court, the unit accepts victim complaints, processes applications to become a civil party to a trial and provides legal services.
Though the court has celebrated the fact that it is alone among modern tribunals in allowing victims to be parties to trials, the victims unit was among the last organs of the tribunal to become fully operational in January 2008.
The office received no allocations in the court’s initial 2004 budget and though a revised budget in 2008 allocated $776,100 to the unit, it was obliged to begin its own fundraising campaign. It received a $2.4 million pledge from Germany in July.
Court spokesman Reach Sambath said Keat Bophal’s contract is due to expire on April 30th but, as the notice of resignation has yet to be officially accepted, he would not comment on attempts to name a successor.
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which delivered over 1,000 victim complaint forms to the tribunal, said Monday he was saddened to learn of Keat Bophal’s decision.
“I think she did a great job. She’s very sincere,” he said. “I hope the court will not accept her resignation.”
“I would hope that she wasn’t discouraged by all the problems and took them as challenges, because it’s noble work,” he added.