Cambodia: Twenty year jailing of radio journalist sends chilling message
02 Oct 2012
ARTICLE 19 is concerned about the 20-year prison sentence given to the Cambodian journalist, Mam Sonando for attempting an ‘insurrectionary movement’ and urges the judge to reverse the decision and release him.
“Mam Sonando’s conviction is unfounded. He has done nothing but exercise his right to freedom of expression. The government’s linking him to a fabricated secessionist movement and court’s unjustified verdict, is a clear move to silence Sonando and to send a threatening message to other critical voices,” says Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.
“This proves that the Cambodian government will go to great lengths to silence any dissenter, and that the judicial system is not able to adequately protect human rights,” she added.
Sonando, 71, is the owner and director of the independent station, Beehive Radio, and holds both Cambodian and French citizenship. On 22 June 2012, Sonando went to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands to report on a presentation by the Khmer People Power Movement – which accused the Cambodian government of committing crimes against humanity.
Sonando’s report was aired over Beehive Radio on 25 June. The next day, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for his arrest, accusing him inciting a“secessionist” movement in Kratie province.* Sonando voluntarily returned to Phnom Penh on 12 July and was arrested a few days later.
Since the start of 2012, the state of freedom of expression in Cambodian sharply declined, with an increase in gun violence and legal threats used against those peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
ARTICLE 19 strongly urges the Cambodian government to take heed of its legal obligations, and to uphold the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in both the Cambodian Constitution and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Cambodia is a party. ARTICLE 19 also calls upon the ruling judge to immediately release Mam Sonando and reverse the conviction.
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