Joint Statement: Cambodia: Mam Sonando Released

22 March 2013

 

Cambodia: Mam Sonando Released

 

Centre

for Law and Democracy (CLD), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LWRC) are pleased to note that Mam Sonando, a

Cambodian broadcaster who had been detained for exercising his right to freedom

of expression, has been released. He was released only after spending eight

months in prison.

 

At

an Appeal Court hearing on 14 March 2013, at the prosecutor’s request, the more

serious charges against Mam Sonando, namely insurrection and incitement to take

up arms against the State, were dropped, while charges of obstruction of

officials and unlawful interference in the discharge of public functions were

maintained, and a charge of and occupation of forestry land was added. The

Appeal Court cut his sentence to five years, suspended the remainder of his

sentence, but placed him on probation for three years. The probation may place

Mam Sonando at heightened risk of further arbitrary detentions for peacefully

exercising his right to freedom of expression.

 

We

believe that the charges against Mam Sonando were politically motivated and

unsubstantiated, as we made clear in a letter to His Excellency, Prime Minister

Hun Sen on 5 October 2012 (available at: http://www.law-democracy.org/live/media/letters/).

 

Mam

Sonando is the owner of one of Cambodia’s few independent radio stations and

has been a prominent critic of the Cambodian government. His arrest was

announced last July, the day after he appeared at the International Criminal

Court to make a presentation to the Office of the Prosecutor on behalf of the

Khmer People Power Movement on alleged crimes against humanity by the Cambodian

government. Mam Sonando had been arrested twice before on spurious, politically

motivated charges, both times after publicly criticising the Cambodian

government.

 

We

call on the Government of Cambodia to request that Mam Sonando be pardoned in

relation to all charges. We also call on the government to respect the right of

everyone, including those who criticise government, to freedom of expression.

 

For further information, please contact the organisations listed in 220313 Cambodia-Sonando PR final.pdf