IFJ Condemns Jailing of Radio Station Owner and Activist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its Cambodian affiliate,

the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ) in strongly condemning the 20-year jail sentence handed down to

independent radio owner and activist Mam Sonando on October 1, by the Phnom Penh Municipal

Court.

 

Mam

Sonando, 71, is the owner of Independent radio station Beehive Radio, President

of the Democrats Association, and a prominent public critic of human rights

abuses in Cambodia. He was arrested on July 15 on orders from Prime Minister Hun

Sen, accusing him of attempting to establish a secessionist movement in Kratie

province.

 

Mr

Sonando has been arrested twice before on spurious charges after openly

criticising the Cambodian government.  This latest arrest followed Beehive Radio broadcasts covering the complaint

brought to the International Criminal Court accusing the Royal Government of

Cambodia of crimes against humanity, and an incident in Kratie Province, where

there is a land dispute between local families and the Casotim, in which Government

security forces stormed Broma village, forcibly evicting families and shooting

and a 14-year-old girl in the process.

 

Mr

Sonando was convicted on all charges including insurrection, illegal

interference in public function performing and inciting people to take up arms

against the state. In addition to the harsh sentence, presiding judge Ms Chang

Sinat ordered Mr Sonando to pay 10 million riels (2500 dollars) compensation.

 

“I

am very happy to serve my people,” Mam told reportedly told the media before

police took him away to the capital’s Prey Sar prison.

 

The

verdict has been widely condemned by international human rights groups and the

case seen as reflecting the deteriorating freedom of expression in Cambodia.

 

In

August, the IFJ joined other international organisations in writing an Open

Letter to the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, expressing grave concern over the detention of Mam Sonando.

 

“Mam

Sonando’s sentence is a reflection of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s

continuing attack on freedom of expression and is in direct contravention of

Cambodia’s positive obligations under national and international law” said IFJ

Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

 

“We

are deeply concerned for the health of Mr Sonando, which according to reports

has significantly deteriorated while in detention. We join the CAPJ and human

rights groups in calling for his release.”

 

  

 

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0950

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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