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
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
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.
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.
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.
verdict has been widely condemned by international human rights groups and the
case seen as reflecting the deteriorating freedom of expression in Cambodia.
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.
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.
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.”
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